False Memories?

PUBLISHED: 5:54 PM 27 Sep 2018
UPDATED: 9:54 PM 27 Sep 2018

Senator Grassley Questions Blasey Ford Polygraph Reliability

On the eve of her interrogation by the Senate confirmation committee, Chairman Grassley demanded any video, audio or other records that show what happened when the lie detector test was performed.

Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) demanded the accuser’s attorneys bring along everything they have about Ford’s lie detector test.

Just hours before Christine Blasey Ford took the witness stand in front of Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation committee, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) demanded the accuser’s attorneys bring along everything they have about Ford’s lie detector test. Audio, video, notes, the works. The report itself might torpedo Ford’s claims right out of the water.

The results virtually prove that Ford believed what she said during the test, but so did the kids at McMartin preschool. False memories ruined the lives of several people and the impact is well known.

Chairman Grassley also wasn’t happy to read that the reports from the therapist are being withheld. “We will not produce copies of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s medical records,” lawyers wrote in the cover letter with the polygraph report.

Polygraph tests are notoriously inaccurate and the way the test is administered is crucial. In a letter to Ford’s attorneys, Grassley wrote, that “the recordings and data from the polygraph examination” were required “to assess the reliability” of the report, Politico reveals.

Ford’s lawyers were caught off guard, not expecting to be challenged.

Debra Katz and her partner in the firm, Lisa Banks, responded Wednesday night, advising they “are not in a position to produce these materials this evening.” They also pushed back.

“First, we fail to understand how these materials are important” to “gauge” the reliability of her written statement. “At your request, we provided the polygraph examiner’s report, which detailed the methodology and the results, along with his qualifications to perform the examination,” they claimed

Republicans have been focusing on inconsistencies in Ford’s official statement that indicate she may be lying. The number of people present at the time of the incident has been questioned. There are notable differences between the account of events she provided to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and the statement she gave to the polygraph examiner.

The timing of that statement is another thing to take a close look at.

Ford undoubtedly told her story to the lawyers repeatedly and in great detail. They almost certainly had her write that statement down at some point just to have in their file. Instead of handing the examiner a copy of what she had provided several days or weeks before, they had her rewrite a fresh version.

The test was performed in a hotel room which is not unusual. “Accompanying Blasey was Attorney Lisa Banks,” the report notes.

“After introductions were made, this examiner left the room so Blasey and Attorney Banks could discuss this matter.” In other words, get her story straight, some people believe. What else could there be to discuss?

“During this discussion,” (while he was out of the room) “Blasey provided a written statement to Banks detailing the events that occurred on the evening of the assault.”

Putting it all down on paper had Blasey totally focused on the events as she remembered them. It was certain to build up her “anger” which would tend to affect the baseline recordings of the polygraph.

“The statement was provided to this examiner when he returned.” It’s no wonder that the squiggles would indicate “Blasey’s responses to the above relevant questions are not indicative of deception.” It doesn’t mean the allegations are true, only that Blasey believes them.

As explained by Dr. Larry R. Squire in the New York Times, who is an expert in the neuropsychology of memory at UC San Diego, “the field of memory research was rocked by several criminal prosecutions in the 1980’s and early 1990’s that were based partly on ‘recovered memories.’”

One Famous case was the McMartin preschool in California. “Virginia McMartin and six other teachers at her preschool were indicted in 1984 on charges involving ritual sexual and physical abuse of the children, animal sacrifices and satanism.”

Dr. Squire calls the McMartin case a “wake-up call for those of us who study memory.” It was the first time the issue had come up.

“If someone says that kind of abuse happened, we tend to believe them, we think there must be something to it. But there was no other evidence. We all had doubts about whether these memories were real. What could explain it?”

False memories are something that police are now trained to be very wary of. “False confessions can destroy an entire case while police move forward with prosecutors to convict an innocent individual instead of focusing on other suspects,” NITV Federal Services reports.

“It’s important for law enforcement to help suspects and witnesses access their memories with clarity instead of muddying their recall through accusatory methods that may create false memories in frightened or confused subjects.”

Making a witness write down a story they just discussed with their attorney, moments before, would tend to muddy the waters quite well in preparation for a polygraph, critics suggest.

NITV cites a study that found “certain police interrogation techniques can cause false memories.” Sixty “vetted students” participated in “a study about how people remember their childhood.”

They were asked to detail an event they remembered “from when they were between the ages of eleven to fourteen.” They were questioned three times a week apart in 40-minute sessions.

“The researchers asked them to recall both a false event provided to them by the researcher and a true one. The false event did not contain many details but involved contact with police in a minor incident.”

By using “priming techniques” during the course of the interviews, by the end of the experiment, “21 of the 60 participants” were “classified as having false memories of being involved in the criminal event resulting in police contact.” They “not only believed they had committed a crime but provided the details about the event.”

They had to end the study early because they “were worried about the impact this study was having on the participants.”