Lie to Me Season 3, Episode 6 “Beyond Belief”

This week’s episode of Lie to Me, entitled ‘Beyond Belief,’ follows Dr. Lightman and his team as they investigate Dr. John Stafford, a motivational speaker with a cult following.

During the investigation, they interrogate one of Dr. Stafford’s former followers (Jane Prescott.) There are a few inaccuracies that we would like to point out.

First of all, there is no ‘pinocchio response’ that is definitely indicative of a lie. Torres notices Jane’s breaking eye contact and slight hesitation in her responses, and Dr. Lightman states that she is lying. These actions are not necessarily indicators of deception.

At around 22:50, Torres deduces that Jane is feeling shame. Her head is down, and her eyes are looking down, blocked by her hand. Loker then pulls up a couple media photographs of politicians with this same expression. There is no universal expression for shame or guilt.

One slightly interesting thing about the episode is Dr. Lightman’s inability to read Dr. Stafford very well. It is later found out that this is due to Dr. Stafford’s facial surgery. The show has never quite touched on the fact that not everyone’s face can be read, because there are instances in which a person’s facial muscles cannot relax and contract properly. This may be due to a few different factors, such as a muscle disorder or, in Dr. Stafford’s case, extensive surgery.

Similarly, when individuals get botox injections, certain facial muscles are paralyzed therefore impeding the ability to express certain emotions. An interesting article was written recently which suggests that botox not only “may harm the expression of an emotion, but also its comprehension”.

“Beyond Belief” seems to touch more on the science than other episodes in the third season but overall, Lie to Me continues to ignore the science behind emotion and facial cues. In addition, the information that they do provide isn’t quite accurate.

Did you watch this week’s Lie to Me? What did you think? If you haven’t already, you may view the full episode here.

8 responses to “Lie to Me Season 3, Episode 6 “Beyond Belief””

  1. Russ Conte says:


    I watched part of it and was horrified. Lightman beating an innocent man using a cro-bar??? And the man just cowers? Maybe it’s just me, and I’m an extremely gentle guy, but if someone comes at me, I defend myself. I don’t just cower. In most any real situation the guy would defend himself, and lightman would have wound up in the hospital – or a grave. Lightman acts in a way that would prove an utter failure in real life. Likewise, the Lightman Group puts up with stuff that no real employees would ever do. I know it’s not a documentary, but real life is actually quite a bit better:

    I’m currently reading the book titled How to Break a Terrorist. This is the True story of how investigators used brains, not cro-bars, to fight -and win – the real war on terror. Next to that story, Lie to Me is awful, and a tiny shell of what it could be, and what it once was.

    I have not watched Lie to Me in quite some time. This episode (as much of it as I saw) gives me even more reason to stay away. I have better things to do with my time, this is not entertaining at all.

    Russ Conte

  2. Keith D. says:

    I liked this episode better than last week’s. Emily showed some interesting non-verbal behavior towards her dad in the scene where he was sort of following her around the island in the kitchen and she kept backing away. It makes it appear that maybe Emily is seeing some strange behaviors in Dr. Lightman and isn’t as comfortable around him as she usually is. That, coupled with his toned down behavior the past couple episodes makes me wonder if maybe the writers are going to address his bad behavior in upcoming episodes, maybe they’re listening at least somewhat to the show’s viewers. I’ll reserve judgment for a while though.

    I do hope they’ll continue to bring back in more of the science in the show. I suspect that at least a few episodes in advance are already filmed and in the can (I think shows often have six or more advance shows filmed), so I’m willing to give them a few weeks to see what kinds of changes they’ll bring in in response to what fans say. There is only so much that can be done through editing alone, without re-filming scenes. I hope some of these very small changes we’ve been seeing will be a continuing trend with the show, because I’d really like to enjoy it again the way I did back in its first season.

  3. Bora hanci says:

    While I am aware that this is fictional, and an actual reading is not possible. At 25:18 Stafford says “I don’t know where Carol Ashlan is” nods positive (right after shifting roles, turning around, hands held, mouth covered) Then continues, “That’s the truth” nodding negative. So, this may not conclude a lie but we’ve seen Lightman figure out more with less before. I suspect they wanted to add some subjectivity to the show since Emily was in danger (hence the crow-bar scene).

  4. user125 says:

    Now I find that statement interesting that there is no universal expression for shame. Paul Ekman identifies the expression shown as shame. Though i dont believe that any of these expressions are 100% accurate, i do feel that it is not entirely inaccurate. Who to believe….?

  5. There has been no scientific evidence to prove that shame is expressed and judged the same way across all cultures. Could you perhaps contact Dr. Ekman and ask him about the research that would support his claim? We’d be very interested in hearing about it.

  6. Kent Clizbe says:

    Wow! A peddler of microexpression training admitting that there is no “universal” expression for a human emotion!

    Doesn’t that sort of blow the entire theory out of the water?

    If you admit that there is no culturally universal expression for one emotion/feeling, aren’t you actually admitting that the entire premise is flawed? The scam is based on the theory that “emotions and their facial expressins are the same in all humans, in all cultures.”

    The truth is that different cultures treat shame/guilt/sadness (and every other emotion) differently. Some cultures do not ingrain shame in their members for lying. Other cultures are very much into guilt-trips, and those cultures’ members feel guilt when they lie, and might show that guilt (or they might not, too!).

    What does the great and might Dr Paul Oz Ekman, behind the curtain of dollars say about this?

    Dr. Paul Ekman’s Column;

    Season 3, Episode 6 “Beyond Belief” – Shame
    This program deals with shame, as it is shown by Carol and later by Jane. The facial signal for shame looks no different from the expressions that occur with sadness, but in addition there are hand movements, which cover part of the face. Eyes are directed down in both shame and sadness. I view shame as a relative of sadness, but it is more than the disappointment and response to an important loss that occurs in sadness. In shame the person doesn’t want others to know how she or he is feeling, for if others knew what the person is ashamed of they would be disgusted……

  7. Kent, there has been ample scientific research that suggests that there are 7 basic emotions that are universal across cultures. These are: anger, contempt, fear, disgust, happiness, sadness and surprise. If you study the scientific literature, you will find that these emotions have been proven to have the same facial characteristics across all individuals no matter their race, gender, ethnic background or religion. This has also been further proven by the famous universality studies conducted by Dr. Paul Ekman in New Guinea.

    You suggest that “The truth is that different cultures treat shame/guilt/sadness (and every other emotion) differently.”

    Would you like to provide us with the scientific backing for this statement? We would be interested to see where the validity lies behind this statement in scientific research or literature.

    Although there has been scientific evidence for the 7 basic emotions to be universally expressed, this is not true for the emotion of shame. What we were trying to explain in our previous post is that although there is speculation as to the characteristics of the emotions of shame, this has not been scientifically documented. If you asked Dr. Ekman to provide the scientific evidence to his blog post that you re-posted, he would probably find it difficult to provide such proof.

  8. David says:

    I’ve seen that expression of shame in places such as the Middle East and even the Far East. My question is: is it not universal because of culture or is there some other reason why it is not universal?

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