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Former CIA agent reveals how to tell if someone is lying to you

Former CIA agent reveals how to tell if someone is lying to you

It's more than just facial cues.

If you’ve ever tried to figure out if someone’s lying to you, you've probably done things like checking if they look to the right or avoiding eye contact.

But a former CIA agent has debunked these myths and shared the best way to tell if you're being lied to.

On an episode of the Lex Fridman podcast, ex-CIA agent Andrew Bustamante revealed the method for detecting liars.

'That gets to be more into the training skill side of things,' he said.

In his line of work, Bustamante has spent years determining whether people are truthful, so he knows a thing or two.

'There's body cues. There's microexpressions,' he stated.

However, he added: 'I don't believe microexpressions alone do anything.'

Lex Clips/YouTube
Lex Clips/YouTube

Basically, it's not as simple as to say someone's lying just by the look on their face.

'All the people out there pitching that you can tell if someone's lying to you just by looking at their face, it's all baloney.'

Without knowing that individual's background, or as he puts it their 'baseline', there's no way you can actually tell by expressions alone.

'But when you combine facial expressions with body movements, body language, non-verbal cues and [add in] effective elicitation techniques that you are in control of, you have a more robust platform to tell if someone's lying.'

Bustamante suggests treating it like an interview, not an interrogation.

An interrogation has 'a clear pattern of dominance' whereas an interview is an 'equal share of ideas.'

Regardless, you can control the situation by asking questions to get a clear picture of the person and how they behave.

Emily Morter/Unsplash
Emily Morter/Unsplash

With this approach, you can 'test whether or not the person is being truthful because they're operating within their baseline. Or if you are triggering sensitivities outside of their baseline then you can start to see their tells.'

It's pretty cool stuff and it makes sense. Just because someone avoids eye contact doesn’t mean they’re lying, it might just be their habit, as Fridman humorously referenced himself.

Similarly, people who look to the right might be right-eye dominant or searching for creativity, not necessarily lying.

Fascinated by the detection method, Fridman was curious whether Bustamante considers lie detection an a science or an art.

'Art is taught from a foundation of skills and those skills are taught in a structured manner. And the way that you use the skills after that is more of the artistic grace,' he replied.

'So I've always called espionage an art. Spying is an art. Being able to hack human beings is an art. But it's all based on a foundation of science.'

Featured Image Credit: Lex Clips/YouTube