Lie to Me Season 2 Episode 10 “Tractor Man” Comments

lightmanwhite-spaceOne of my goals in writing these blogs is to dispel fact from fiction and to point out some inconsistencies of how things occur on the show vs how they should occur in real life situations. Of course the show is dramatized but it is important and crucial to understand how the lie detection process works in real life.

In this episode, the way in which Lightman detects deception is different than how it goes in reality.

A specific example is when Lightman talks to the trucker and asks about whether he has a bomb, Foster notes that the trucker’s lip corner tightens. Lightman then concludes that the expression is contempt and he that the trucker is lying.

As we have discussed before, no single sign of an emotion is a reliable sign of lying. In fact, if one believes that, it is highly likely that one is interpreting the behavior through one’s own biases, which we call the “Me Theory.”

The Me Theory refers to the bias that many of us have in interpreting the source of other people’s emotions in one of two ways: (1) I know WHY that person is feeling like that because that’s how I would feel if I were that person, or (2) that emotion is about me.

In this example, the only way Lightman could conclude that the trucker was lying solely on the basis of the single contempt expression was if Lightman knew the source of the emotion.

There are many possible sources of that particular emotion: the trucker could have been contemptuous at himself, at the president, at Lightman, or even at his wife, whom Lightman said he had talked to. Any one of these could be the potential source of the contempt and in real life situations, the only way to find out is to probe further in more questioning. In the drama, Lightman doesn’t ask more questions, yet jumps to the conclusion that the trucker is lying.

In reality, this technique of jumping to a conclusion quickly is  precisely what we train people NOT to do and it is important to understand this if you are ever in the position of detecting deception in an interrogation or other real-life situation.  The important point is to understand the source of the particular emotion and to probe fruther with more questioning to find out where the source of the emotion came from.

This show serves as an important tool for getting the knowledge about microexpressions and lie detection out there to the public, and as many people have commented, it has sparked a lot of interest in these topics.

We can only tune in to more episodes to see what Lightman has in store for the audience.

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