The Truth About Truth Telling

So you want to be a professional lie detector?

A lie catcher? Don't quit your day job!


Following the success of the Fox TV show “Lie to Me,” I have received many requests from people who believe that they have very good people-reading skills and would like a job like the one held by Torres, the “natural” lie detector, on the show. On the show this character is given a briefcase full of money to join the Lightman Group, a lie detection company.  She has no education and gets to do interesting people-related work wearing cool clothes and hanging out in a fabulous, high-tech office.

Sad to say, that dream job is just a dream. I know of no business that is devoted exclusively to lie detection. In real life, Paul Ekman (the model for Dr. Cal Lightman) is a retired research psychologist.  He consulted with police agencies and taught many kinds of law enforcement what he knew about behavior and deception.  But he did not do investigations himself. That is TV reality, not real reality. And he did research for 40 years before his contributions received the recognition they now have.

A variety of professionals (police, lawyers, therapist, dispute mediators, arbitrators, behavioral researchers) require lie-detection skills or knowledge to do their jobs, but they are paid to do their total job. Lie detection is just part of it. And the notion of a “natural” lie detector is also unlikely. (


I have been studying expert lie detectors for nearly 20 years and the vast majority of them are educated. Only a few do not have a college education.  Some of the Truth Wizards, who were already known to be good lie detectors and good interviewers, went back to get doctorates when they were in their 30’s and 40’s.  But where can you start - if you want to get a job that uses your lie detection or people reading skills?


1) Pick a relevant occupation (your day job!).


2) Get educated in that job, either through a relevant college major like psychology or criminal justice, or through getting a job in the field and finding someone to mentor you.


3) Travel. Expose yourself to a wide variety of people of all ages, social classes and ethnicities. One of the differences between Truth Wizards and others is the diverse life exposure they have had.


4) Be passionate about the truth and about understanding people.  You can be a good athlete without making it to the Olympics. To be an Olympic athlete, you need to be fanatically motivated and dedicated.  To be a Truth Wizard, you need to be open to your biases and limitations, to seek feedback and to practice, practice, practice.


5) Read everything you can about lie detection and behavioral observation. Take workshops and courses.


There are many paths to becoming an expert lie detector, but you must choose one with heart. Relaxing in your arm chair and commenting on the passing parade of humanity won’t do it.



Making money as a human lie detector

People can make great deals of money playing poker. A lot of the time it depends on luck. But being able to tell if someone is lying (bluffing), may be enough to give you the edge and shift the odds in your favor.

You are absolutely right that

You are absolutely right that some people can make money with poker using their lie detection ability - but they also need good card sense and the ability to control their own "tells"

Lie Detection

Thanks for such an honest piece I'm writing from the Uk and find the subject fascinating. I am now reading Dr Ekmans book Emotions revealed and picking up as much information as I can find , along with doing Dr Ekmans and Joe Navarro's Tests etc.
Would you be able to point me towards any courses where I can get a qualification . I'm 50 next year so I'm really looking for an Online or distance learning Course. I have looked at the Open University in the Uk , but the closest I could find would be a Degree in Criminal Psychology, which is ok but I would be happier to find a Qualification that is more specific.
Thanks , I really like your BlOG and find it really useful.

I have been looking for something similar...Interested in your comment....cont.


Unfortunately, I am not writing this to provide any answers to your comment since I see it was written in 09'; however, since that was long ago, I was hoping you may have found an answer to "finding a Qualification that is more specific". If not, or you pursued a different path, I at least wanted to check.
I earned my Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice with a Minor in Psychology (Human Behavior) in 05' from PSU; furthermore, I worked as a Behavioral Counselor for adolescents/young adults for 2 years following my degree and for the past 4+ years have worked as a Private Investigator. I have been wanting to go back to school for a masters degree but have been having a hard time choosing a Graduate degree in a field that I find unique to the skills I am good at and want to harness or as you stated, "more specific". I was hoping/wondering if you eventually found something in the area of Psychology, Human Behavior, Emotional Intelligence or all the aforementioned in a realm of criminal matters since you mentioned Criminal Psychology? I am currently trying to look for any programs that allow one to tailor their own graduate degree or somehow provide one with the credentials outside of the typical curriculum.

I hate to be onerous but if anything came to your attention or if you (or anyone you know that could help) could possibly enlighten me to anything that qualifies as more specific in those matters, I would greatly appreciate it.
I have been reading about Emotional Intelligence, Behavioral Marketing, Behavioral Psychology regarding Deception and anything else in that realm of science; however, I just can't seem to find anything uniquely tailored to feel comfortable about.
Sorry for being somewhat verbose. I'll leave it at that for now, unless I hear back from you with anything you know of. If you haven't found what you were looking for in 09' maybe we could help each other out someway.



P.S. - If anyone else would help me out regarding this message I would greatly appreciate any information or time one could give to me. Finding a mentor would be great too! Have a great day.

Deception Information


I have been training classes and groups in deception skills for well over a decade. You can got to my website and send me an email for more information than what I can put here. The site is

Dr. Ekman summed it up when he said, "Most lies succeed because no one goes through the work to figure out how to catch them."

THis means there are methods that do work - though nothing is 100% but with the correct information and sufficient effort, that knowledge is available. I have spent over 30 years total researching in this area, though I am at a college that does not support much int he way of research, so most of what I have done is gather and evaluate the findings from every possible source. I amy be able to give you some ideas.

Best Dr. David A Camp


Great breakdown and explanation. I am surprised that there isn't a private agency that consults all the organizations that you have mentioned and then some. With so much on the line in business deals and contract law you would think that this can be a very profitable field of employment. Even helping parents with children suffering from autism or other ailments that limit their ability to communicate. But then I guess you have therapist and Psychologists to help them.
I have lived a very diverse and lived through and over came many adverse situations in my life time and I am only 33. I have always been able to see the truth because I was always surrounded by lies as a child. It has helped me medically treat my Marines and even patients in Iraq and Afghanistan. With the job market the way it is I was hoping for more of a lead on this then finding out I would need to go the mental health route in order to really use my key characteristic in a work environment. Well, thank you for your article.

Lie to Me

Thanks for the post, I am currently following "Lie to Me", I am at the 3rd and final season, closing in to the end. This show inspires me to learn more about psychology and deception detecting. I've always been somewhat attracted to psychology and human behavior but I'm not really looking to make a career like Cal Lightman's. However, I think that being able to know facts about people without having them tell you is one of the greatest skills out there and I want to have that skill.

What I will do now (out of the 5 points that you gave) is get my hands on some books on this subject. That seems the simplest. Point #4 will come by itself, point #3 is very difficult and well... expensive. And finally, within the next few years I guess it would be a good idea to get a degree in psychology.

All in good time.

What to do after books?


I am not sure wether iwill get any responses because this is a really old thread... but i have a question.

After watvhing lie to me, i read Paul Ekman's Emotions Revealed, Telling Lies, Unmasking the face etc.. I also took SETT and METT courses from his site

Now i am only 16 and i do not plan to take up psychology... also i dont hink that i will be able to do anything furthur thanthe books or the internet. So what I wantto know is that is there any international lie detection assosiation or society that we can join... and in what ways can i use my skills otherthan casino andlawer type jobs... is there any firm like the Lightman Foundation in real life.. or any website or blog

Thank you


So you want to be a professional lie detector? | Psychology Today

Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all folks you really recognize what you're talking approximately!
Bookmarked. Please also seek advice from my web site =).
We may have a link alternate agreement among us

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Maureen O'Sullivan was a professor of psychology at the University of San Francisco.


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