Psychological Techniques

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22 SEPT 93

Philip E. Kubansky's paper on "The Effects of Reduced Environmental Stimulation on Human Behavior" describes several experiments in which sensory stimuli were reduced by placing subjects in water tanks, iron lungs, etc. Samples were frequently small (one experiment used only two subjects) ; the period of sensory deprivation was almost always brief (sometimes a total of three to ten minutes); and the subjects knew that they were in the hands of reputable scientists and could end the confinement or isolation whenever they wished. The resemblance of such experiments to the treatment imposed by a Communist security service is that of a lap dog to a gorilla. Recognizing this gulf, the writer says, "There are no experimental data . . . on the relationship of isolation and deprivation to the amount and accuracy of information which can be obtained when under interrogation. . . . [The experiments conducted to date] have remained within the limitations posed by ethical considerations and have not pushed subjects to their ultimate limits." Science cannot add to knowledge about the interrogation of resistant subjects by such a delicate, humane, and tentative probing of its harsh aspects.

Louis A. Gottschalk, writing on "The Use of Drugs in Interrogation," tells us much about drugs but little about interrogation under narcosis. His chapter is one of the three best because he makes a consistent effort to relate his data to his stated subject. But he too is plagued by a lack of immediately relevant experimentation: "When one examines the literature for experimental and clinical studies that bear directly on the use of drugs in interrogation procedures, one finds relatively few studies." Therefore he has to rely on unscientific reports about the interrogation of criminal suspects and scientific findings which may be interpreted as meaning this or that about interrogation but lead to no firm conclusions.1

R. C. Davis' essay on "Physiological Responses as a Means of Evaluating Information" deals with the polygraph. Its primary evidential basis is an experiment conducted at the University of Indiana nine years ago. It advances three possible explanations of the measurable physiological changes which

1Dr. Gottschalk's findings are reviewed in greater detail in Intelligence Articles V2, "'Truth' Drugs in Interrogation," p. A1ff., especially pp. A7-A10.


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Posted: May 08, 2007 09:01 AM
Last Updated: May 08, 2007 09:01 AM