Spy the Lie

Title:                      Spy the Lie

Author:                 Philip Houston

Houston, Philip (2012), Michael Floyd, and Susan Carnicero, with Don Tennant. Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How To Detect Deception. New York St. Martin’s Press

LCCN:    2012009737

HV8078 .S66 2012

Summary

  • “Three former CIA officers–the world’s foremost authorities on recognizing deceptive behavior–share their techniques for spotting a lie Imagine how different your life would be if you knew when someone was lying or telling you the truth. Whether hiring a new employee, assessing the veracity of legal testimony, investing in a financial interest, knowing when your boss is being completely up-front, ascertaining whether your child is being totally honest with you, or even dating someone new, having the ability to unmask a lie can have far-reaching and even life-altering consequences. As former CIA agents, Philip Houston, Mike Floyd and Susan Carnicero are among the world’s best at recognizing deceptive behavior. Spy The Lie chronicles the fascinating story of how they used a methodology Houston developed to detect deception in the counter-terrorism and criminal investigation realms, and how these techniques can be applied in our daily lives. Through thrilling anecdotes from their careers in counterintelligence, the authors provide a foolproof means of identifying deceptive behavior, showing readers how to study nuances, both verbal and non-verbal, including: [bullet] Hand(s) to the face in response to a question [bullet] Grooming gestures [bullet] Invoking religion (“I swear to God”) [bullet] Repeating the question [bullet] Qualifiers (“Basically”) [bullet] And much, much more”– Provided by publisher.
  • “Imagine how different your life would be if you knew when someone was lying or telling you the truth. Whether hiring a new employee, assessing the veracity of legal testimony, investing in a financial interest, knowing when your boss is being completely up-front, ascertaining whether your child is being totally honest with you, or even dating someone new, having the ability to unmask a lie can have far-reaching and even life-altering consequences. As former CIA agents, Philip Houston, Mike Floyd and Susan Carnicero are among the world’s best at recognizing deceptive behavior. Spy The Lie chronicles the fascinating story of how they used a methodology Houston developed to detect deception in the counter-terrorism and criminal investigation realms, and how these techniques can be applied in our daily lives. Through thrilling anecdotes from their careers in counterintelligence, the authors provide a foolproof means of identifying deceptive behavior, showing readers how to study nuances, both verbal and non-verbal, including: – Hand(s) to the face in response to a question – Grooming gestures – Invoking religion (“I swear to God”) – Repeating the question – Qualifiers (“Basically”) – And much, much more”– Provided by publisher.

Subjects

Date Posted:      October 30, 2015

Reviewed by Hayden Peake[1]

The primary authors of Spy the Lie are former CIA polygraph examiners. Philip Houston is the the principal originator of a methodology for detecting deception in human subjects, and he claims it “can be employed with a degree of effectiveness that equates to or even surpasses what is achieved by means of a polygraph.” (p. 3) Does that mean the end of polygraph examinations for certain government employees? The authors don’t say, but probably not. They do present a model based on their methodology and then illustrate its use in the field of security and in everyday situations.

After reviewing some general guidelines for trying to detect deception and stressing “that there is no such thing as a human lie detector,” (p. 29) they describe “the model.” It has one—not immediately intuitive—strategic principle and two specific guidelines. The principle is: “if you want to know if someone is lying, you need to ignore, and thereby not process, truthful behavior.” The examples make clear how the principle is applied and why. The two guidelines are timing and clusters. Timing imposes the rule that the examiner “look and listen for the first deceptive behavior to occur within 5 seconds” (p. 31) after the stimulus question is asked. Clusters are two or more deceptive indicators, which may be verbal or nonverbal. (p. 32)

The authors provide specific examples and conditions for the method’s application, and graphics to show how these techniques are performed. Casual social interaction on the job is not likely to produce results. Houston provides an example of this when he notes that he worked with Harold Nicholson for more than two years and got no indication that he was a KGB agent. (pp. 37-39)

Most of the examples deal with a specific point. But the case of former Congressman Anthony Weiner is presented as a “textbook case study of many of the deceptive behaviors” the authors have discussed. (pp. 159ff.)

The authors conclude with a list of questions designed for everyday practical situations, each with some explanatory narrative. (pp. 201ff.) A final illustration applies “the model” to the Bob Costas interview of Jerry Sandusky, with analytical comment by the authors.

Spy the Lie will make you think about deception in new ways. It is an interesting, provocative, and valuable contribution to the security profession.

[1] Peake, Hayden B. in The Intelligencer: Journal of U. S. Intelligence Studies (20, 1, Spring/Summer 2013, p. 111). Hayden Peake is the Curator of the CIA’s Historical Intelligence Collection. He has served in the Directorate of Science and Technology and the Directorate of Operations. Most of these reviews appeared in recent unclassified editions ofCIA’s Studies in Intelligence. These and many other reviews and articles may be found on line at http://www.cia.gov

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One Response to Spy the Lie

  1. Pingback: Get the Truth | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

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