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Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception Hardcover – July 17, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 404 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Wouldn't it be great if we could bottle the collective wisdom of CIA officers who have interrogated hundreds of people, and apply all that experience to situations where we need to know if someone is telling the truth? In Spy the Lie, three CIA veterans have done just that. If you read this book, which is packed with great anecdotes, you will feel closer to being able to flesh out a lie.” ―Forbes

“Lie detection isn't ingrained; it's learned… By following their advice, which is based off years of interrogating terrorists and double agents, anyone can improve their odds at getting to the truth.” ―New York Post

“Michael Floyd and two fellow former ex-agents, with more than 75 years of interrogation experience between them, honed their methods on terrorist and criminals. But their advice work equally well on cheating spouses, lollygagging employees, or schoolkids feigning illness.” ―StarTribune

“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 Lie is a captivating read with practical takeaway you'll use every day.” ―John Miller, senior correspondent at CBS News, former associate deputy director of National Intelligence, and former assistant director for public affairs at the FBI

“When my detectives on the LAPD's Counterterrorism Bureau and Robbery-Homicide Division took the course, we had veteran investigators tell us, ‘No one should ever be promoted to the rank of detective without taking this course,' and ‘I now want to go back and re-interview every suspect I ever questioned.' What this team has developed is truly unique, and anyone can learn to use it.” ―Bill Bratton, chairman of Kroll Associates, former LAPD chief, former NYPD and Boston Police Department police commissioner

About the Author

Philip Houston, a twenty-five-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency and a recipient of the Career Intelligence Medal, is a nationally recognized authority on deception detection, critical interviewing, and elicitation. He has conducted thousands of interviews and interrogations for the CIA and other federal agencies, and is credited with developing a detection of deception methodology currently employed throughout the U.S. intelligence and federal law enforcement communities.

Michael Floyd is a leading authority on interviewing, detection of deception, and elicitation in cases involving criminal activity, personnel screening, and national security issues. In a career spanning more than thirty-five years, he has served in both the CIA and the National Security Agency, and founded Advanced Polygraph Services, where he conducted high-profile interviews and interrogations for law enforcement agencies, law firms, and private industry.

Susan Carnicero, a former security officer with the CIA specializing in national security, employment, and criminal issues, is an eminent authority on interviewing, detection of deception, and elicitation. Trained as a forensic psychologist, she is the developer of a behavioral screening program used extensively in both the public and private sectors, and is currently involved in conducting high-level screening interviews within the U.S. government.

Don Tennant is a former National Security Agency analyst and business/technology journalist. As editor in chief of Computerworld, he won a variety of national journalism awards, including the Timothy White Award for Editorial Integrity and the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award from American Business Media.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (July 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 125000585X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250005854
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (404 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John M. Ford TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 20, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book's authors have many years of experience interviewing CIA assets, CIA employees, and a variety of ordinary people in non-CIA settings. Their specialty is in determining when someone is lying. And they are good at it. This skill in detecting deception has done a lot of good, helping their clients make better decisions about hiring the right new employee, trusting the right baby sitter, and prosecuting the person who really "did it." Sometimes the skills bring pain, making clear that the waiting doctor's politeness covers bad news or that a spouse isn't really joking about "her boyfriend." Still, it's better to know, isn't it?

Detecting deception isn't magic and it isn't infallible. But it is possible to become better at it than most of us are now. The book identifies several barriers to accurately detecting deception. We expect most people to tell the truth, we ask the wrong questions, and we look for the wrong "tells" in other people's behavior. And we try to watch everything they do instead of focusing on a small number of reliable indicators.

Such reliable indicators of deception include certain kinds of verbal hesitations and evasions as well as specific body movements of which a deceiver is largely unaware. Readers learn to ask questions that require different mental processing from guilty versus innocent suspects. One technique is to ask questions a good guy will answer with an immediate--and perhaps angry--"No!" while the bad guy will need to give a longer, more carefully worded response. We watch for deception indicators that begin in the first five seconds after a question. And we look for clusters of indicators rather than for single actions. There is more to it, of course, but this is the core methodology the book presents. It's good stuff.
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Format: Hardcover
'Spy the Lie' provides insights from highly experienced practitioners of deception detection. Readers will not only learn useful perspectives on detecting deception, but to also be aware that lie detection is usually not easy and requires an open mind and strategy.

The primary obstacles that gets in the way of detecting deception are the belief that people will not lie to you, along with a bias that people are innocent until proven guilty and being uncomfortable judging others. The authors begin by suggesting one look for deceptive behavior within five seconds of a question, as well as for a cluster of such behaviors - a single 'suspicious' behavior may mean nothing.

Most of 'Spy the Lie' is taken up with specific suggestions on what to look for. For example, failure to understand a simple question is a deceptive behavior. Another - deceptive persons sometimes respond to an allegation with a truthful statement that casts him/her in a very favorable light such as giving Bibles to the homeless. Truthful responses tend to be direct and spontaneous, and the person is alert and composed. Unfortunately, untruthful persons can also show these behaviors - especially if prepared.

Failure to directly answer a question, directly respond with a denial, repeating the question, making general statements in response (eg. 'I would never do something like that'), non-answer statements, inconsistent statements, and going into attack mode are all indicators of untruthfulness. Other such indicators include procedural compliance, trying to butter up the questioner, involving religion (eg. 'I swear to God'), selective memory, and smiling in response questions about a heinous crime are other indicators.

Questioners can sometimes be too specific - eg.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Despite the glowing reviews this book is essentially a quick overview or crib-note version of lie detection. There is absolutely nothing new in this book that hasn't been published in countless other books. I will spare you the cost and tell you the only relevant details.... If people don't answer a question directly with yes/no answers they may be lying, or maybe not. It all depends on how often they respond in strange ways. That's the entire book. Here are the flaws:

- This book is dedicated to the profession of polygraph examination. Many aspect are not useful unless you are the FBI and can grill a subject for hours on end.
- There is vague reference made to their amazing techniques but the only real cases they talk about are well known legal cases like OJ Simpson and other that the authors were not involved in.
- The book is tragically short. No new studies or revelations. Nothing about former cases they broke. It seems more like they wanted to use this as a forum about how they didn't catch Nicholson (the highest level CIA double agent in CIA history) despite the fact this team was working during his employment.

This book is nothing more than a way to make a little cash and legitimize Philip Houston's company.
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By Kathy Spengler on September 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was an interesting read, with real life examples. However, I was hoping for a little more. Good advice about interviewing included when to pursue details of an admission vs. inviting additional or deeper admissions/information first; and recognizing and setting aside our own biases when presented with convincing statements, like "I love my child. I could never hurt him!" I was happily surprised by the direct, but non-blaming approach recommended by the authors in an effort to reach the ultimate goal of getting (more) information. All in all, I would recommend this book for someone who is interested in a light read with good information. Just don't expect any real neat tricks or sure-fire way to detect lies.
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