Lie to Me- Season 2 Episode 2 “Truth or Consequences” Comments
As a professional in the field who has contributed to some of the science that is depicted in the show, it’s wonderful watching the dramatization of the science to entertainment.
Of course, sometimes the stretching of the truth in terms of scientific findings makes me cringe, too! We can’t expect for the show to portray every aspect of the science correctly and accurately, but there needs to be a few clarifications made.
During the course of the show, Cal is interrogating the football player accused of committing statutory rape. During this time he asks the man to lie to him so that he can “establish a baseline”. While establishing a baseline is necessary, just simply having the person lie to you won’t give you enough information. Establishing a baseline can take hours and it’s often necessary to video tape the subject, then review the tape to get an accurate read.
Its also important to know that no one can tell a truth or lie from just a snippet of behavior. In fact, we wish it were this easy, but the truth is that detecting deception is a timely process and even the best lie detectors in the world can’t get a 100% accurate read from 5 seconds of conversation.
In addition to this, I must say that it is often difficult to palate the Cal Lightman character because he is often arrogant, condescending, and often downright rude. Of course, this is probably because much of the show is dramatized, which makes it more interesting to the viewer. If Cal Lightman were a soft-spoken individual, the show probably wouldn’t be as popular as it is.
In many ways, it’s ironic that the main character has this these attributes, when in reality one of the principles by which we teach focuses on the development of rapport with others. When you have the skills that are depicted in the show, which we have studied for many years and teach to others, it is very easy to overstep one’s boundaries and be “reading” everyone.
In our experience, “reading” everyone and telling others what you are seeing is one of the fastest ways to NOT develop rapport and to get people turned off to you quickly, because people tend to believe that you are judging them. No one wants to be judged all the time – not one’s friends or family or colleagues. In reality, if people around one felt like that, you would probably have no friends!
A bit of this was exemplified by Dr. Cal Lightman and his relationship with his daughter Emily in this episode. Emily shows great animosity towards Cal when he “reads” her, even though she is indeed lying about having a fake ID and going to bars.
Thus, developing the skills is one thing, but using the skills wisely for harmonious relationships is yet another. No one wants to feel that they are being interrogated all the time. And if someone with the skills to read others actually did what Cal Lightman does, he or she would probably be a pretty lonely person. It’s too bad that the amazing skillset that is being dramatized has to be resident in such a character.
But that’s ok; after all it is drama.