A live-streamed lie detector test designed to decide the fate of an accused Call of Duty: Warzone cheater ended abruptly this week after doubts arose about the validity of the polygraph and the person taking it.
As reported by defect (opens in new tab)the April 5th event was the brainchild of esports commentator Jake Lucky and Grady Rains of Full Squad Gaming, who invited accused of cheating ShiftyTV (opens in new tab) to his Los Angeles studio to prove his innocence (or guilt). The planned itinerary for the stream would begin with Shifty playing Warzone on a ‘clean’ PC setup to test its performance against his home PC. The stream would end with the results of a polygraph test conducted by John Grogan, a contract polygraph examiner who performed similar tests for Dr. Phil, Vanity Fair and The Late Late Show with James Corden.
A few moments before Grogan shared the test results to viewers, Rains intervened to ask for a break. “Wait, wait, wait, let’s take a break. Let’s take a break real quick. Let’s take a break,” he said. “Can we play a board and take a break real quick?” The broadcast then moved to a waiting screen before finally ending.
Video credit: defect (opens in new tab)
It’s hard to know for sure because the event file was quickly deleted by Full Squad Gaming, but Rains likely ended the broadcast to address the growing number of viewers in the chat, pointing out Grogan’s reputation in the polygraph community. In 2008, retired FBI special agent Jack Trimarco (another polygraph operator who regularly appeared on Dr. Phil before his death in 2018) publicly declared Grogan a “polygraph parasite (opens in new tab)” allegedly convicted of “26 counts of fraud.” Grogan refuted these allegations and later filed a defamation lawsuit against Trimarco that was settled out of court in 2009.
After the broadcast, Lucky apologized to viewers and alluded to the reason behind the sudden end of the broadcast. “At the end of the day, I didn’t feel comfortable sharing these results and I think it was the right decision,” he said.
In the end, I didn’t feel comfortable sharing these results and I think it was the right decision. Thank you so much to everyone who came because, apart from that big mistake, it was a lot of fun for me. More important updates tomorrow.April 6, 2022
The allegations were apparently enough for Lucky’s confidence in Grogan to wane, but they haven’t stopped Grogan in the past. In recent years, he has become the idol of Hollywood poker face (opens in new tab) when you need someone to look at a polygraph test and confidently declare whether or not someone is lying. He tested fraud on celebrities big and small, including Hailey Baldwin, Machine Gun Kelly, The Jonas Brothers, The Try Guys, and Pete Davidson. It will apparently test anyone with $145 to burn (by appointment).
Grogan doubts aside, another good reason to stop taking a polygraph test is, of course, because lie detectors don’t work (opens in new tab). This is a fact that has been pointed out to Lucky and co. several times on Twitter before and after the April 5 broadcast, but was not addressed by anyone involved. This fact is also regularly ignored by every other YouTube channel and TV show that hires people like Grogan to “detect lies”. You could argue that polygraphs are a fun, make-believe activity that makes for a great video. You could also argue that it is misleading and false to portray polygraphs as reliable.
Meanwhile, Shifty, who at the end of the stream was deemed neither cheater nor innocent (although his gameplay looks suspicious to me!), seems to be doing pretty well with how it all turned out.
“Made history today, just got it right,” he tweeted after the aborted polygraph stream.