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Lunch » Tags » Untagged » Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception » User review

Learning to decipher the truth in answers...

  • Oct 27, 2012
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You ask someone a question... is what comes next an honest answer? The challenge is figuring that out so as to determine the actual truth. Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception by Philip Houston, Michael Floyd, Susan Carnicero, and Don Tennant lays out a method that cuts down the chances of you being led astray by lies. There's no perfect way to detect a lie vs. the truth, but they show there are ways to tip the odds significantly in your favor (provided you're the one asking the questions).

Welcome to Our World; The Difficulty We Have in Calling Someone a Liar; Navigating the Deception Detection Obstacle Course; The Methodology - It All Comes Down to This; The Deception Paradox - Ignoring the Truth in Order to Find the Truth; What Deception Sounds Like; The Most Powerful Lies; The Wrath of the Liar; What Deception Looks Like; Truth in the Lie - Spying Unintended Messages; You Don't Ask, You Don't Get; Managing Deception to Gain the Advantage; Let's Be Careful Out There; A Textbook Case of Deception; Okay, So Now What?; Appendix I - Suggested Question Lists; Appendix II - A Sample Narrative Analysis Based on the Model; Glossary; About the Authors and Writer; Index

The method outlined in Spy the Lie was developed inside the CIA by people who are recognized experts in polygraph testing and interview techniques. Based on how the mind works and responds when faced with questions, they catalogued a number of deception behaviors that people use when trying to avoid the truth. The number of these behaviors that arise within the first five seconds of a response are a strong indicator of whether someone is trying to hide something. A single instance isn't enough to say someone's lying. If two or more show up, and show up repeatedly in the answers, it's time to dig deeper. The interesting thing is that it's not necessarily the exact words that are said, but the types of answers that qualify as deception indicators.

For example, someone may fail to answer the actual question that was asked. A person may have a problem making a direct denial when asked a question. There's repeating the question (trying to gain time to think), making statements that are non-answers, making inconsistent statements, going into attack mode, asking a question as an answer, making overly specific answers, inappropriate levels of politeness, and a number of other indicators. These types of statements, by themselves, are not a red light. But if a number of them occur repeatedly, especially as a response to a single question, there's a good chance that you have someone cornered. If these indicators are followed up with the right types and styles of questions, there's a very good chance that a confession will be forthcoming.

The information in the book is excellent, and the authors do a good job in using well-known examples where these indicators could be tracked. They admit that no method is 100% accurate, and that this is something that can *help* discover the truth, but not guarantee it. I approached the content with some concern for the hindsight bias. It's relatively easy to find examples where you can point to textbook cases of the method working. However, how many people (say, deep cover agents) have been faced with questioning like this and still continue to do their job? The negative can't be proved, and it's something that should be kept in mind when reading the book. I was also a bit bothered by the number of "we'll be covering that shortly" lines in the book. The points were covered, but it's a personal nit of mine when I'm repeatedly told I have to keep reading to get more info.

If the concept of "lie detection" is of interest to you, Spy the Lie is worth reading. Rather than just feeling that politicians are lying when accused of something, you'll be able to explain why you feel that way. :)

Obtained From: Library
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About the reviewer
Thomas Duff ()
Ranked #42
Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
About this product


“This book is both entertaining and highly informative—and it’s the real deal. It gives readers genuine practical tools and tactics to use in all walks of life. I highly recommend it.”

—David J. Lieberman, Ph.D., New York Times bestselling author of Never Be Lied to Again

“For many years, Phil and his team have employed their skills to vet terrorist sources, catch spies, and protect the nation’s secrets. With this book, they have done something perhaps even more remarkable: Equip anyone to reliably detect deception. Consciously or not, we all judge others’ sincerity and truthfulness to protect ourselves. Most of us do it badly. This book will teach you to do it well.” 

—Robert Grenier, chairman of ERG Partners, former director of the CIA Counter-Terrorism Center

"In this entertaining, instructive, and fascinating book, Phil, Michael, and Susan lay out an easy-to-follow process for detecting deception, with real-life stories that are the stuff of spy novels. I have used their model for years with phenomenal results.”

—Marisa R. Randazzo, Ph.D., managing partner at SIGMA Threat Management Associates, former chief research psychologist, U.S. Secret Service

“A terrific resource for anyone who would love to be able to tell when someone is lying. Having undergone their training, I’ve applied their methodology in some critical situations, and I’ve been blown away by its effectiveness. Spy the ...

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