I Know When You’re Lying…

lies in truth

How much easier would it be if you could know when someone was lying?

Some people have an innate ability to pick up on the small cues and triggers that we give off when we tell a fib.

Others have it trained into them.

Others like CIA interrogation officers!

Check out this article I found on Forbes.com and see if you can learn a trick or two and save yourself a little grief in the long run:

Wouldn’t it be great if we could bottle the collective wisdom of CIA officers who have interrogated hundreds of people, and apply all that experience to situations where we need to know if someone is telling the truth? In their new book, Spy the Lie (St. Martin’s Press, $25), three CIA veterans, Philip Houston, Michael Floyd and Susan Carnicero, have done just that. (The book has one more co-author, Don Tennant, a journalist and former National Security Agency analyst.)

First the authors discuss how we all have built-in barriers to detecting the truth. For one, most of us simply believe that people are not prone to lying. Even CIA officers tend to presume that others are innocent until proven guilty, and they are not very comfortable judging others.

The book offers strategies to counteract these natural tendencies and lays out a methodology for spotting liars, by accounting for behaviors and statements that can offer clues to whether someone is telling the truth.

The authors note that if a person is really innocent, they will usually deny the crime in straightforward language at the beginning of the interview.  In fact, they say the most important clues come just five seconds after a question is asked.

In one scenario, author Houston recounts how one of his employees at The Farm, a CIA training facility, reported to him that forty dollars was missing from her wallet, and there was only one other employee who had been in the room where she had left her purse. Houston knew that if the suspect had not taken the money, he would simply say, immediately, “I didn’t take it and I have no idea who did.”  Instead, the suspect tried to get Houston to walk out to the parking lot and look at his car, where he had a trunk full of bibles. “Every week I take them wherever they’re needed on behalf of my church,” said the suspect. This is one of the big take-aways from the book: In order to convince the accuser, a liar may respond to an allegation with a truthful statement that casts him in a favorable light. It turned out the man with the bibles in the trunk had indeed swiped the $40 and eventually admitted it.

Another entertaining example of a subject countering a question with a statement that is true but doesn’t answer the question: Back in 2004, Vice President Dick Cheney used the “F” word in an exchange with Senator Patrick Leahy on the senate floor. The senate wasn’t in session, so the exchange was not recorded, but several journalists saw what happened. Neil Cavuto of Fox News later interviewed Cheney about the incident. When Cavuto asked Cheney, “did you use the ‘F’ word,” Cheney responded with a true statement that didn’t answer the question: “That’s not the kind of language I usually use.” After Cavuto pressed him further, Cheney finally admitted he had cursed at Leahy.

Other signs of deception: repeating the question to stall for time, going into attack mode against the questioner, trying to butter up the questioner with compliments, invoking religion (“I swear to God I didn’t take the forty dollars”), using qualifiers like “basically” and “usually,” exhibiting selective memory (“not that I recall”), and showing strange emotions while answering questions, like smiling when denying committing a serious crime like homicide.

Accused people also sometimes act like they don’t understand a simple question. A great example of this came when then-President Bill Clinton appeared before the independent counsel in the Monica Lewinsky case in 1997. During the proceeding, Clinton was asked about a statement by his attorney: “Counsel is fully aware that Ms. Lewinsky has filed, has an affidavit which they are in possession of saying that there is absolutely no sex of any kind in any manner, shape, or form, with President Clinton.” When asked whether that was a false statement, Clinton replied, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement.” Trapped by the statement, Clinton had tried to shrink its scope so he could answer truthfully.

There are also plenty of nonverbal cues to lying, though the authors say that averting eye contact, often thought to signify evasiveness, isn’t one of them, since many of us look away during conversations. More telling: hiding the mouth or eyes, throat-clearing or swallowing, biting or licking the lips, and what the authors call “anchor point movement,” shifting weight and position around the body at rest as a way to reduce anxiety, like fidgeting in a chair. To better observe this tendency, the authors like to have their subjects sit in a chair that has wheels or that rocks and swivels, so that the anchor point movements become obvious to the observer. Another clue: what the authors call “grooming gestures,” like brushing hair or adjusting a tie or shirt cuffs, which can signal anxiety. One last cue, which seems straight from central casting: sweating profusely. If the subject takes out a kerchief or simply mops his brow with the heel of his hand, it can signal deception.

In the book’s most entertaining chapter, the authors retrace the episode of Rep. Anthony Weiner, who in the spring of 2011, repeatedly denied having sent lewd photos of himself to a female college student on Twitter. The authors cite it as a textbook case of deceptive behaviors. From the first day the story broke, on May 27, Weiner repeatedly failed to answer questions in a straightforward way and instead made statements that were true but off point. Weiner also attacked his questioners and at other times bent over backward to be polite. He also tried to change the subject and talk about his impending vote on the debt limit. At one point, Weiner used what the authors call a “limiting” statement, when he replied to one of the queries, “I think I’ve been pretty responsive to you in the past,” limiting his answer with “I think” and “pretty.” Of course, when additional evidence came out, Weiner finally admitted his deception on June 6.

Though Weiner offers a textbook case, the authors emphasize that lie detection is far from an exact science. But if you read this book, which is packed with great anecdotes, you will feel closer to being able to flesh out a lie.

Here’s my take on the author’s main points:

1. Look for deceptive behaviors and responses within the first five seconds of asking a question.

2. Someone telling the truth will say immediately and plainly that they did not commit the crime.

3. Liars often respond to questions with truthful statements that cast them in a favorable light.

4. Liars often repeat a question to stall for time, go into attack mode against the questioner or butter up the questioner with compliments.

5. Nonverbal cues to lying include hiding the mouth or eyes, throat clearing or swallowing, grooming gestures like adjusting shirt cuffs, shifting weight around and sweating.

View the original article, Written by Susan Adams on Forbes.com

I picked up Spy The Lie and read through a few chapters of it at the bookstore, I didn't get into the nitty gritty details, but the opening story was pretty good.

Feel free to grab a copy of it and check it out for yourself:


Want more? Check this out:

How To Become A Human Lie Detector Test

6 Responses to :
I Know When You’re Lying…

  1. WorldWatchman says:

    This is very interesting and I also learned something about people who take their eyes off you when asked a question that I had all wrong. I had learned a long time ago that if a person is lying they will not look at you when they’re caught in a lie. That they would quickly look away. This book might be worth a look see. Pardon the pun.

  2. Expat says:

    The above points only work for normal people who do not lie as a matter of course. Others who are programed to lie due to some mental condition will not exhibit these symptoms.
    My sister is one basically lies continuously and without remorse or introspection. It’s her nature.
    One of her favorite tactics is to hurriedly embellish a lie with several anecdotes; Such as (the lie) – “then I remember because my friend came over and saw the same thing”, etc. Doing so removes her from the lie and adds credence to it. The saving grace with those who have to deal with her is we just check the embellishment to find the lie.

  3. kenny says:

    Kind of ironic that after all the vetting that they must do, one of their people would steal $40.

  4. Ferdo says:

    I have been a police detective for around twenty years. I have thirty five years as a policeman and I will tell you none of those always things are always.

    You have to spend time with a person in order to pick up tells.

    These books have some things but if anyone tells you they can tell if someone is not being truthful by listing “tells” they are 100 percent full of crap…

  5. Susan says:

    I think some folks are so professional with their lies they do not show signs…take Obama for example!

  6. Bob says:

    It would be so nice for once to read or participate in a discussion without any politics whatsoever. Surely there are other people who can interact with others without mentioning Obama!


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