Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Man Who Talked to Plants

MindTrip Magazine
He talked to plants. And they talked back.

Grover Cleveland Backster Jr. could always spot a liar. As he liked to tell it, he served in the Navy during World War II, but his interest in deception soon led him to the Army Counter-Intelligence Corps, where he specialized in hypno- and narco-interrogation -- a.k.a. "truth serums". Then, in 1948, he joined the C.I.A., where, he claimed, he founded the agency's polygraph program.

A decade later, Backster moved to New York and then opened the Backster School of Lie Detection, where he taught N.Y.P.D. detectives and F.B.I. agents. He testified in courtrooms and before Congress, and his famed Backster Zone Comparison Technique -- a methodology for conducting polygraphs -- is still widely used. Backster's success made him a law-enforcement legend, but he was always happier proving people innocent. "I like to think of the polygraph," he once said, "as a truth detector."

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