“Undercover” - Baseline

Lightman says he needs to establish a baseline to know what these guys look like when they are not stressed. The term baseline refers to a person’s usual behavior during ordinary circumstances. Changes from that baseline suggest that something important is occurring: it might be the stress of being under suspicion or emotional reactions to telling a lie. Without a baseline we run the risk of misinterpreting unusual behaviors, for we don’t know if the person always acts in that unusual way. It is risky to judge truthfulness without a baseline; hence my practice of never making an important decision based on a single, brief meeting.

“Undercover” - Teeth Clench

Antoine is clenching his teeth, which is a nervous habit in some people, but when it is not (which you would know if you had a baseline), teeth clenching suggests an attempt to tightly control what is said or shown.

“Undercover” - Ethical Dilemmas

Lightman and Foster argue about an ethical dilemma: is it justifiable to sacrifice the future of an innocent person (Andre) to prevent many people losing their lives. Factors to consider are: a certainty (with Andre going to jail) as compared to a possibility of a terrorist attack that cannot be stopped by any other means; jail (Andre) versus death (terrorist); what you do (Lightman) as compared to what others (antiterrorists) may be doing; and whether you can ever accept acquiescing in an injustice.

“Better Half” - Generating Signs of Fear

Lightman tells the boy he will be eaten up by a wolf to increase the boy’s fear of being caught if he was indeed lying. It didn’t generate any signs of fear or lying — so it did work. But many laymen and professionals would judge that Lightman went too far. My evaluation is that he is on the edge of acceptable practice, which is where Lightman usually likes to be.

“Better Half” - Contempt

Garcia, the TV host, angrily says, “You’re damn right I feel contempt.” Very often one emotion calls forth another emotion. Lightman’s question “Why did you feel contempt” activated Garcia’s anger that Ambrose didn’t show gratitude for the loan, but thought he was being squeezed to return the money. And then Ambrose’s son’s claim that he saw Garcia leave the house after the fire has made Garcia a suspect. Proof that ‘no good deed goes unpunished!’. The contempt was a covering emotion, which Garcia did feel. He was probably also the using contempt to cover the intense anger beneath it that he didn’t want to reveal.

“Better Half” - Surprise

If Frank Ambrose had shown surprise as Lightman claimed, it would indeed show he didn’t know about his wife’s affair. Unfortunately, the actor showed perplexed disbelief, not surprise. In surprise the brows are raised not lowered, and the jaw drops open, with widened eyes. Perplexed disbelief, which he does show, also suggests he didn’t know about the affair.

“The Best Policy” - Guilty Knowledge

Lightman is using the guilty knowledge technique, mentioning something that only the guilty not an innocent person will know about and watching for who shows a reaction. This technique is sometimes used in polygraph exams: ‘was the person strangled, shot, stabbed, bludgeoned to death?’ Only the killer knows and is likely to show a physiological reaction when the actual weapon is mentioned. Often the newspapers reveal so much about a crime that this technique can’t be used because everyone knows everything the police know.

“The Best Policy” - Pinocchio’s Nose

Qualifying statements, such as the one Loker notes, show that something more is happening than is being revealed, but it is not ‘Pinocchio’s nose’, it isn’t certain proof of lying.

“The Best Policy” - Natural Performers

Lightman acknowledges that he can be fooled. When we measured every behavior we could see or hear there were still a few people we could not classify as either liars or truth tellers – they are what I call natural performers. They don’t lie more often than other people, but you can’t tell when they do.

“The Best Policy” - Friendship

Torres tells Lightman that because of his friendship he is off his game. She is right; when we have a stake in a relationship we are blind to signs of deceit. We don’t want to know truths that would challenge or destroy a cherished relationship.