on January 24, 2005
Dr Eckman may disappoint his readers by not giving them what they want: A simple protocol for determining whether or not someone is lying. There is a simple reason: There isn't one.
Other books will defraud the reader by giving them techniques that in reality don't work. Dr Eckman pounds in one central point - that there is no one single way to detect dishonesty. He calls any belief to the contrary "the Brokaw Hazard," named after Tom Brokaw, who believes that circumlocution is the omnipresent sentinel of a lie. He also develops the concept of the "Othello Error," that cautions the reader against actually causing lie signals by accident (named after the literary Othello, who assumed that his wife's sobbing was for her lover, but in reality she was sobbing because of her husband's rage over the incorrectly presumed affair.). He gives many tips, including a checklist in an appendix that might help the reader to detect lies, but most of the material is embedded deep within the text. He helps the reader to develop a dynamic approach to detecting lies; approaches that are developed as detection begins. He exhorts the reader to use NUMEROUS well-defined clues to develop the case for the conclusion that someone is lying.
The biggest flaw in the book is on its cover. The cover suggests that this is a practical book. It is more of a research paper. This is what makes it reliable - the fact that such a complete study is contained within. But the average reader will look for a standard protocol for detecting lies - but the Brokaw Hazard tells us there is none.
on March 25, 2009
As I've said in my other reviews, I am not Susan Gill, I'm her son.
Dr. Ekman's work on lie detection has been getting a lot of attention lately, due to the fact his science is regularly practiced on Fox's new show Lie to me. The producers even asked him to be their scientific consultant and have put on a quite impressive display of how effective Ekman's study really is.
Alright, first off, the problems. Dr. Ekman has a notorious habit in the entire book for stating that his science is, "inconclusive" and "still has a lot of faults" and that he`s not sure about this, or that. In other words, he tries to come off like there is no real way of knowing if his science works or not, and if it`s a real practical way of catching deciet. This is mostly because he focuses on "deception clues" instead of "deception leakage" which are two entirely different things to look for in a person when looking for deceit (don't worry he describes both in detail, although deception clues in more detail). But the truth is, it does work, and it works very effectively when used correctly. The reason he keeps saying it's inconclusive is because he wrote well over half of this book in `85, way back when he didn't have funds for research on his study. However, if you get the updated version to `01 or even better `08, then he begins to write that his work is much more conclusive than before, and that using facial reading with body language, you are well over 90 % accurate in your lie detection (and concealed emotions reading) ability.
One more complaint that I have is that it seems he shouldn't have written the book himself. It can be a very tough read at points, sometimes having so many technical terms it's hard to keep up, so if you're looking for really easy reading, this book isn't for you. Also, he seems to neglect certain findings that he makes and doesn't give them as much detail as he should sometimes (i.e. mouth shrugs and one sided shoulder shrugs). Another thing he doesn't give enough attention to is (oddly enough) his main point of research, the face. He gives great detail on the body, voice, and words for lying, but when it came to the face, he didn't give hardly any detail on the seven universal emotions. Instead, he gives greater detail to different smiles a person can make, and what each of them could mean (valuable, of course, but that won't tell you if they're lying). For the most part, though, he gives great detail on most of the important things.
Now, for the positive aspects.
If the hard reading doesn't bother you, and you're as committed as I was when it comes to lie detection, then this book is completely worth your time. Dr. Ekman may have a hard time writing out what he means, but you always seem to understand the important things when he does write about them. He includes many things that are not in the show Lie to Me like the difference between "manipulators" and "illustrators". He also gives the three reasons why people can fail in their lies, and even has an entire (long) chapter on the use of the polygraph and his science. This chapter can be useful, because it gives you ideas on where to start with your questions for the liars. Using the "Guilty Knowledge Test" is an example of something you can use to your advantage when questioning a liar. These questions may be meant for use with the polygraph, but as Ekman's science proposes, a person using his techniques (I believe) are much more accurate at lie detection than the polygraph.
One thing I should mention is the fact that Ekman states in his book that people look in the wrong places for lie detection, and that those places are the face and words. Although words are obviously the wrong place to look for deception leakage, the face however, is not. A person's face may be able to lie about certain things (and I realize that certain people get the wrong clues from the face), but he tells you the signs to look for in the face that reveals a false expression, and later goes on to state that looking for micro-expressions alone for lie detection is 70 % accurate on it's own, so the face is actually the first place you should look (hence why he reprinted this book so many times).
Ekman also gives the right impression by saying "there is no actual sign of lying itself". The truth is, there isn't. You may wonder how his science works then, but really all you're looking for is signs of emotion that are out of place, or contradictions between the face and body that don't match the words. Most of the time, you need to investigate certain emotions a person gives, because, if you don't, you could commit the "Othello Error" or even the "Brokaw Hazard" (which are in detail in his book).
All in all, this book is very good at describing his lie detection science. As long as you pick out what is conclusive from his books, then you should have no problem figuring out his lie detection techniques. Watching Lie to Me is a great way at spotting his more conclusive stuff, and figuring out what's what in his book. Not only that, but it's a great excuse for watching the show. My only advice is to get two other books if you're interested in lie detection. Ekman's other book Emotions Revealed is totally focused on the face, and even has an extra chapter on lying that can be quite useful. The third book is actually a book totally devoted to body language called The Definitive Book on Body Language by Allan and Barbara Pease. It gives you some bases for negative body language and also has a chapter on body language and lying, but it's mostly a bunch of different manipulators. However, the book is good, nevertheless, because the information on those manipulators is valuable to most lie detecting, and that's something Ekman never really focused on. Of course, it gives much more information than that, and all of it is useful.
So if you're interested in being thorough for lie detection, buy this book, and the two other books I listed. You can't go wrong between these three amazing books. Just make sure you get the most updated version of this book (And to be sure and watch Lie to Me for better distinguishing Ekman's conclusive work! you can watch episodes on [...]
Just so you all know, I have a new reccomended Body language book for you all. If you've been looking into this I'm sure you've heard of it. "What Every Body Says", is written by an ex FBI agent.. while I was shyed away from the book because of that reason, this guy REALLY knows his stuff! I was shocked at how much and how deep his knowledge of body language went! I HIGHLY reccomend this book! In fact I'd be so bold as to get it instead of "The Definitive Book on Body Language" ! While that book is still excellent, I'd have to say that "What Every Body Says" is a bit better.. happy hunting!
Being a big fan of the Fox TV show "Lie to Me" I had high hopes for this book. While the book does tell some interesting stories and information about deception, it fails to provide key information, such as good photos of the seven universal expressions. The book has a very few, small, poor quality photos with no baseline (expression-free) photos. This is especially disappointing given how the book reveals that some subtle expressions can only be detected by measuring slight changes in certain facial muscles.
I was also troubled by the way earlier chapters did not appear to have been edited at all - all subsequent versions offered were additional chapters. For example, there was a reference "as I write these words, the [Reagan] White House has revised its proposal about the use of polygraph and Congress will begin hearings on it next week." No further information was provided of what came of it, or subsequent polygraph usage guidelines or laws.
In summary, the book offers some interesting background on the science, but not much to help one detect lies.