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« Book Review - Stolen Prey by John Sandford | Main| Book Review - A River Closely Watched by Jon Boilard »

Book Review - Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception by Philip Houston, Michael Floyd, Susan Carnicero, and Don Tennant

Category Book Review Philip Houston Michael Floyd Susan Carnicero Don Tennant Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception
Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception

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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