The PolygraphEditor: In his Nov. 2 Opinion * Commentary...


November 21, 1991

The Polygraph

Editor: In his Nov. 2 Opinion * Commentary article, Donald R. Morris asserted that the polygraph is accurate in sorting the guilty from the innocent. Although he acknowledged that the polygraph machine does no more than measure a subject's pulse, perspiration, blood pressure and breathing, he claimed that the polygraph operator can tell from that data whether the subject is telling the truth. This claim has been considered and consistently rejected by scientists, courts and legislatures.

The use of the polygraph is unreliable because it depends on the operator's interpretation of inherently ambiguous data. Mr. Morris unwittingly highlighted the polygraph's defect by insisting that an experienced polygraph operator can detect a liar even before strapping him or her to the machine to be questioned. According to Mr. Morris, honest subjects are always on time and relaxed while dishonest subjects are invariably late and tense.

No sensible person would trust his employment or her freedom to the guesswork of a polygraph operator. The earnest assurances of polygraph operators that they do not make mistakes cannot substitute for objective proof that their technique is reliable.

Michael Malloy.

Ellicott City.


Editor: As a dedicated member of the Coalition of Concerned African American Organizations of Baltimore County, I must respond to the letter written by Del. Kenneth Masters, who represents Baltimore County's 12th legislative district.

Mr. Masters is to be congratulated in his opposition to schemes of shared legislative districts with Baltimore City. On the other hand, some of the rest of his letter seems to be deliberately misleading and perhaps individually self-protecting. Delegate Masters seems to imply that the federal Voting Rights Act will be satisfied with the new plan adopted by county delegates. This is doubtful.

From our perspective, the crucial issue is whether approximately 80,000 blacks living in Baltimore County will have representation in the state, county, and federal legislatures. This is especially important in Randallstown, Woodlawn and the Reisterstown Road areas.

Mr. Masters' letter recognizes and provides for geographic shifts in Jewish population in Baltimore County. In this regard, we are in total agreement. So, why not accept the plan that was submitted by the Coalition of Concerned African American Organizations and stop trying to save individual politicians who are seemingly in jeopardy.

Frederick A. Johnson.



Editor: Why don't people realize all of the services rendered by our firemen? They are authority figures available 24 hours a day.

They keep vandals away from their area. The drug dealers are never around the firehouse. The children in the neighborhood have good role models.

( Keep all our firehouses.

Harry S. Wolf.


Eastern Rite

Editor: The message of Rev. Robert F. Leavitt's Nov. 8 letter, "Promoting Ecumenical Ties," would not be complete without mentioning that Baltimore's St. Mary's Seminary has been educating not only priests of the Roman rite but was, between the years 1913-1941, an important center for the training of priests of the Ukrainian and other Byzantine rites in the United States.

Pastors of Baltimore's St. Michael's Ukrainian Catholic Church also have served as professors of liturgy at the seminary.

Byzantine or Eastern rite, like the Roman rite, is one of the 18 canonical forms of worship of the Catholic Church. It is different from the Roman rite, yet in unity with the pope of Rome.

On the occasion of St. Mary's bicentennial, Ukrainian Americans are gratefully remembering the brotherly assistance St. Mary's has given to their church in this country. In the Ukrainian style, they extend Mnohaja Lita ("God grant you many years") to the staff of St. Mary's.

Wolodymyr C. Sushko.


Private Colleges

Editor: Rev. Joseph A. Sellinger, in his Nov. 7 letter wrote of the ''state's independent institutions'' grappling with a 25 percent reduction in state funding. He maintains that to suggest that the ''independent colleges'' be eliminated from consideration in the public budget is shortsighted at best.

I'd suggest that such a suggestion is logical and consistent with the assertion by these institutions that they are ''private and independent.''

Rev. Sellinger suggests that these ''independent institutions'' relieve the public of a tax burden of $12 billion annually. Even if correct, this dollar amount has nothing to do with the Maryland budget or funding in Maryland. After all, the entire budget for the State of Maryland is less than Sellinger's amount by more than one billion annually.

Of greater importance than the arguments about funding is the basic question to these ''private and independent'' institutions: What is your mission? Are you being true to that mission? I would submit that most started with a noble purpose but not one was founded to either be on the public dole or to relieve the public of tax burden.

George W. Towle.

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