Jun 05

Mentalist Insight: Fastest ways to Detect Deception like Sherlock Holmes.

truthAs most of you know I was raised in an exclusive metaphysical community, by a psychic, tarot-card-reading mother, and surrounded by people exhibiting any number of metaphysical ‘talents;’ I mastered each and every one of them. From reading tarot cards, to rune stones, to graphology (handwriting analysis) to psychometry (a type of alleged psychic energy-reading done on one’s personal belongings); I was known early to be the child prodigy of this community. Having mastered the methods of the psychics of this community at an early age, it wasn’t long before I saw through their superstitious belief systems and methods. I soon began using them for my own, more savory purposes.

In summary, I’ve been detecting deception for as long as I can remember. As a Mentalist I’ve added a literal plethora of tools and techniques to my arsenal. Here are a few of the fastest and most reliable methods that prove themselves invaluable to my work daily:

The Fastest and most Reliable Things to Spot Quickly.


Microexpressions are facial expressions that flash on a person’s face for a fraction of a second and reveal the person’s true emotion underneath their facade. Some people may be naturally sensitive to them, but almost anybody can easily train to be able to detect microexpressions. Typically, in a person who is lying, their microexpression will exhibit the emotion of distress, characterized by the eyebrows being drawn upwards towards the middle of the forehead. This sometimes causing short lines to appear across the forehead skin.

Body Language.

Watch their hands, arms and legs, which tend to be limited, stiff, and self-directed when the person is lying. Their hands may touch their face ear, or the back of the neck. Keep in mind that these signals may be a sign of nervousness and not a sign of deceit. They might not necessarily be nervous because they’re lying.

Over Explaining.

See if they are telling you too much. An example might be, “My mom is living in France, isn’t it nice there? Don’t you like the Eiffel tower? It’s so clean there.” Too many details may tip you off to their desperation to get you to believe them.

Ask Direct Questions.

Gauge Their Emotional Reaction. A liar will often feel uncomfortable and turn their head or body away, or even subconsciously put an object between the two of you. Also, while an innocent person would go on the offensive (usually responding with anger, which will usually be revealed in a microexpression directly after you say you don’t believe them), a guilty person will often go immediately on the defensive. (usually by saying something to reassure their facts, such as deflections).

Linguistics and Wording.

Verbal expression can give many clues as to whether a person is lying, such as:

  • Lack of contractions and/or pronouns in subjects language.
  • Repeating words when answering a question
  • Changes in pitch.
  • Deflecting direct questions.
  • Creating extensive silence.
  • Pausing mid-sentence, breaking thought pattern.
  • Over proving.

The Eyes are the Window to the Whole

The ability to read a person’s intentions based on eye movement develops at about the age of four. Sadly most never develop this further. The general rule is that the more interested and engaged a person is, the larger the pupils become. The same is true in reverse. Conversationally this can tell you everything.

The direction a person looks almost always indicates a great many things. Conjugate lateral eye movements, or brettfourCLEMS, are involuntary eye movements to the left or right and can indicate whether a person is engaged in symbolic or visual thinking. A 1999 study showed that people are predominantly left or right lookers and that 75% of their eye movements will be in one direction or the other. This is a good indication of whether you are dealing with a more analytical left brain person who will mostly look to the right or a creative right brain person who is probably looking to the left.

Dr. Bella DePaulo, a psychologist at the University of Virginia, reported in 1986 that people think that they are much better than they actually are at reading body language. Most people inaccurately believed that “shifty eyes” meant a person was lying. A person’s body language response when defending themselves against the accusation that they have lied is identical to the body language used during lying. In Neuro linguistic programming we caution that the rule of thumb is to use a minimum of four body language cues to make deductions about a person’s thoughts.

When asking someone a direct question, a left or right eye movement can mean the difference between the truth and a lie. Looking to the left indicates a made up answer as their eyes are showing a constructed image or sound whereas looking to the right would indicate a “remembered” voice or image, and thus would be the truth. Every person is different, as I said before never base a conclusion on just one observation.

Practice: Something I’ve loved to do for years now is this, ask a friend to think of think of the name of five family members that you do not know. Ask them to make one of the names up, to make this one a lie. When they are thinking of four real names and one that is a lie you can then ask them the same question five times, each time having them say a different name. Try to detect the lie. When you’re ready, have them only think the names, you can tell the lie anyway! This takes much practice, but you will amaze yourself fairly quickly. Most of us have seen Derren do similar demonstrations.

About the author

Joe Riggs

"For the past 15 years, internationally acclaimed Mentalist, Deductionist, Writer, Lecturer, and Consultant Joe Riggs has been captivating clients with his indispensable insights and enthralling audiences with his own singular style of cutting edge psychological entertainment. Picture Sherlock Holmes meets Patrick Jane and you’ll begin to get an idea of the non-fictional phenomenon that is Joe Riggs. At just 35 years old, his incredibly versatile areas of expertise include: advanced deductive and inductive reasoning, speed reading people, nonverbal communication, uncanny mastery of human behavior, and various forms of suggestion — not to mention his eidetic memory — all of which culminate into a psychological tapestry that most can only perceive as mind reading... but it's not minds Joe reads, it's people..."