Detecting Deception

Lenin was right. Basically, if a capitalist or one of his duly appointed representative’s lips are moving then you can be sure he is lying, especially if expounding upon any of the subjects mentioned in the quote. But there is also a more specific and technical way of discovering deception. There is no such thing as a perfect human lie detector, but the ex-spooks who wrote the book, Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception, believe they can give you a powerful advantage when it comes to rooting out lies. As former employees of the world’s most wicked and dangerous intelligence, and primarily covert action, organization they should know a thing or two about deception – how to use it and I suppose how to see through it as well. The authors of this book, as opposed to the ex-FBI agent’s “body language” approach outlined in a previous article, focus more on verbal “tells” and less on nonverbals.

There are three types of lies: lies of commission, omission, and convincing statements. Lies of commission are, of course, when someone says something that is not true, but the key to uncovering deception often lies (no pun intended) in what IS NOT said. Also, liars will very often get defensive when questioned and use what are called convincing statements. These are used to try to convince the interrogator of the subject’s unimpeachable integrity; for example, statements like “I swear to God!” or “I’ve been a party member in good standing for 20 years!” Other related verbal tells of deception are when the subject gets angry or defensive, equivocates or otherwise refuses in one fashion or another to answer a direct question. There are referral statements that a damn liar will use to evade a question. For example, how many times have you heard a public official or spokesperson say in response to a question something like, “I’d like to once again refer you to the statement that I (we) made public recently regarding this matter.”

Those were some examples of lies of omission and convincing statements, but in order to uncover lies of commission you should keep in mind that most people, except perhaps true sociopaths, are uncomfortable with lying and so when they say something they know is not true, they will lack conviction or tell a long story or otherwise answer in a roundabout way instead of giving a straight answer – even to a yes or no question. For example, Question: “Have you ever set foot on the victim’s property before?” Answer: “Uh, well, before this particular incident took place, yes I suppose I have a few times on various occasions.” See the problem here? A truthful answer would probably have been something more like, “Yeah, sure, several times.”

In addition to analyzing the answers given, or in order to elicit detectable deception behaviors or “tells,” it is important to craft proper questions and to make the subject feel comfortable and not as if he is under suspicion. The book goes into the details of how to ask questions properly and even gives a suggested list of questions for different scenarios. You don’t always want to ask direct, yes or no type questions. You want to elicit information that will, over time, cause the liar to hang himself so to speak. Also, like the FBI guy’s nonverbal method, you need to look for “tells” within a few seconds of the stimulus event or question. You’re also looking for clusters of behavior to improve your confidence of correctly identifying deception.

This is great book to get your hands on. I got it used for about a buck or two I think, plus shipping. Get the book (and the FBI book) and share it with your friends and comrades!

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2 Responses to Detecting Deception

  1. R.A.Weir says:

    As a teacher, I could write a book on this myself.

  2. beetleypete says:

    If any organisation should be an expert on how to lie, it has to be the CIA.
    Regards from England, Pete.

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