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Spy The Lie

Book Review: Spy The Lie

by Philip Houston, Michael Floyd and Susan Carnicero

    This fun and practical book was written by three former CIA operatives who specialize in detecting false testimony and getting information from interviews.  The book is full of real-life examples of the authors using their skills to garner confessions from real life criminals and intelligence assets.  The book is engaging and full of helpful information and techniques to discern deceptive behavior.  Simply reading this book will not make someone an expert lie detector, however.  This takes practice.

When looking for deceptive behavior, one yellow flag is not enough to be suspicious the speaker is not telling the truth.  Rather, look for clusters of warnings.  

We tend to give way too much weight to global behavior.  There are plenty of reasons a person may scratch their nose or cross their arms.  Many of these gestures vary from person to person.  This is why we want to look for clusters of signals and for changes of behavior.  

People are uncomfortable telling lies and will try to avoid outright lying by using evasive or deceptive behavior.  Pay attention to specific words used, to stalling tactics and to redirection.  Deceptive people will fail to answer the question, fail to directly and simply deny the accusation or give overly specific answers.  Other deceptive behavior includes pointing to one’s reputation, invoking religion, an inappropriate level of politeness, referring to previous statements instead of answering the current question, attacking the questioner, making inconsistent statements, etc.

The first few seconds after a question is asked are vital.  If the interviewee doesn’t show deceptive behavior in the first five seconds, he is probably not lying.  If there is one deceptive behavior in the first five seconds and then at least one more following.  


Trying to impress the interviewer

Attacking the interviewer

Demonstrating an inappropriate level of concern

Convincing statements to prove that the person would never do this, rather than an outright denial