Q & A Forum

Photo by Tom Magliery

The news is slow and I don’t have any good stories to share with you, so I thought I’d open this up to a Q&A Forum.  If you have any questions, comments, or ideas — this is your place to share them, and I will try to answer as many as I can.


by Renee Ellory | Eyes For Lies
GET NOTIFIED of future class dates & sales! Click here
  • Sprocket

    What do you love most about what you do? What do you like the least? What would you say is the biggest surprise you’ve had in evaluating some of the criminal cases you’ve covered?

    • I absolutely love watching people “get it” when I explain a new way to look at deception. It’s awesome to see people get excited about what they do for a living and knowing that I have helped them.

      What I like least? When people have closed-minds. When people don’t understand what I do, they often shut me down before I even begin and that’s challenging!

      As for the biggest surprise? I don’t know that I have had any surprises.

      • carol

        I understand that some people don’t get it, but it’s so irksome when they’re rude and disparaging of something they know nothing about and are so closed off about the whole thing or even learning about it. I like that you analyze not only the facial expressions, but the other body language and the subjects’ actual words, as well. I find statement analysis endlessly fascinating and amazing. Hugs.

  • Mojopo

    Do you have any suggestions for assessing mechanics for automotive issues? I’ve run through a spate of deception at a nationally recognized shop, known for taking care of oil changes and assorted automotive issues. What sort of behaviors should I be on the lookout for when speaking with mechanics?

    • That’s a tough one. The best way to avoid being taken advantage of is to become educated. And I know, who has time for that? That’s why we go to these people! But if you are having problems with, say headlights or bulbs burning out, read about it online. Find out as much information as you can. You’d be amazed at what an expert you can become in a very short period of time. Then go and talk to people. You’ll be amazed at the dumb things people say to you when you are educated and how you can quickly weed them out. Also, never leave a vehicle to be repaired if you can’t watch them make the repair. Also, have them give you the old parts immediately on the spot. Let them know you are tough customer and an educated consumer! Let them know you are no dummy! OR, find a good friend who is knowledgeable and ask if they’d come along and negotiate what needs to be done for you. I wish there was an easier answer!

      • Russ Conte

        I would first want to point out that the issue is not just mechanics – it’s any professional you hire. The person can be doing your hair, working on plumbing, teaching your child, your dentist, and so on. You get the idea.

        First things first – only deal with people you trust, and be willing to walk – fast – away from all of those you don’t. A lot of the issues I see in hiring professionals are people who “aren’t really sure” and wait around until they are sure – they are screwed.

        So treat it like a hiring opportunity. Check references. Examine other work done by the professional. If you have an opportunity to have a friend who is somewhat skilled in an area (such as car mechanics), bring her or him along. Take a class if you can, so YOU are more educated. Don’t ever hire someone you can’t trust. That’s a huge red flag that should have everyone walking away immediately.

        Just because someone is trustworthy does not mean they are competent at the task at hand. I’m totally trustworthy, and I’m from Detroit, but you don’t want me working on your car. So it’s OK to also verify skills. When you have trust plus skills, you have a winner. Hire that person.

        • Mojopo

          Excellent points, both of you. Thanks so much – makes great sense.

        • Keith D.

          “I’m totally trustworthy, and I’m from Detroit, but you don’t want me working on your car.”

          LOL, I love you Russ! That is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. 🙂

      • Mojopo

        Thanks, and yes, it’s a tough one! Great advice, thanks for your reply! In retrospect, I did learn one thing to watch out for. When I was asked to sign the receipt for work completed, the manager held down the paper, but his hand covered his handwritten statement regarding repairs. I was distracted and thought nothing of it. Later, when I found out the work was not done and went to check the receipt, that part was conveniently left off the written report. From now on, I will make everyone remove their hands from whatever I sign, and make sure everything is written down.

        • Oh that was one shady character to cover the receipt like that. Wow! I don’t take well to people I hire crowding my personal space. It makes me uncomfortable. If you aren’t personable with someone, and they come close, take notice!

          • WhereTheTruthLies

            Reminds me a little of the slow count in Italy during the day of the Lira. As the vendor counts out your change, he does it slowly and monitors your behavior, waiting for you to say “thanks” and walk away. He knows that ‘foreigners’ can’t keep track of all the zeroes and hopes you’ll pick it up and leave prematurely :0)

  • $36928916

    I know facial expressions are a big part of showing up inconsistencies in a story and hidden emotions, but it’s easier to notice these on a video where it can be replayed over and over and on slow motion than it is when one is dealing with a person face to face. So for those of us who are not experts would you say the best thing to do is to just listen carefully? Any suggestions re what to listen for? Oh, and I would also like you to focus on arrogance again – looks of arrogance, arrogant statements etc.

    • What to listen for? Inconsistencies. Visualize the story being told you…picture it. It will help you spot inconsistencies. Thanks for your suggestion on arrogance!

      • BrentF

        Hi Eyes, What a great chance to ask a question! Thanks.

        Sometimes I have trouble determining whether a person’s response is believable in a given situation.
        I assume the range of possible human responses is large so that a response for me that would seem a little strange may be OK for another person to make.
        I know you have mentioned checking for consistency but are you able to shed any more light on this matter?

        • Hi BrentF — The majority of people who lead healthy productive lives know what is “reasonable” and what is not. I have no doubt if you fall into that category. The problem most people suffer from is critically thinking out all the explanations as to what may have caused the reaction they are seeing.

          People who are not good at deception often jump to conclusions instead of thinking out all the reasons that could explain why a person acted the way they did. If you do this and do it religiously with serious thought and you cannot come up with a logical reason, then and only then can you say its fishy.

          I hope that helps!

          • BrentF

            Hi Eyes,

            I understand what you mean about people jumping to conclusions and about finding reasons for a person’s reaction (you did a good example of this I think with the recent smiling chicken owner – her reaction was consistent with her beliefs). Thanks. I shall increase my efforts on the reasons side of things 🙂

  • Winston Smith

    To what extent do you think personality is determined by genetics?

    • My personal belief is that genetics determine our personality to a great extent. What extent? I don’t know, but I’d say it is more than 90%.

      If personality were determined by environment, siblings would be exactly alike, but I’ve seen way too many cases of siblings who were raised in the exact same environment turn out to be 180s of each other. How could that be if it were environment alone?

      • Bob1237a

        The environment for each sibling is slightly different. The older sibling may feel jealous when a new baby comes along etc, which can affect personality.

      • WhereTheTruthLies

        I had an immediate and charged/defensive response to this one.

        I don’t believe it’s the ‘same’ ‘environment’ at all: especially if environment is defined as human interaction vs. house/furniture/yard, etc.

        For example, one of two sons is interested in his father’s line of work from an early age–wants to be an engineer like his dad–and that son gets the world of admiration, support and attention heaped upon him. While the other wants to be a rock n’ roll musician, becomes persecuted, put down, discouraged, shunned.

        And that doesn’t even take into account family dynamics wherein studies have shown that when there is a sickness/dysfunction in a family, often times it gets heaped upon one of the children. For example, the child who is ‘taking all this on’ becomes suicidal. (and of course the child thinks that they are the problem, as well as the rest of the family having a vested interest in also believing that the child is the problem so that they don’t have to look at their own collective dysfunction–and behave in such a way to keep that child ‘sick’ and discourage pursuit of outside help, and in fact sabotage).

        Furthermore, in those same studies, when that child seeks counseling, heals, and pulls away from the family and is no longer suicidal, another child in ‘the system’ takes over that role and becomes suicidal.

        • Keith D.

          It might depend on what you define as “personality”. If you define personality as the sum total of a person’s experience, then yeah, environment plays a big role. But if you define personality as that part of a person which is responding to its environment, then I’d say environment plays a much smaller role.

          For instance (and a gross simplification), environment won’t make an introvert into an extrovert, but an introvert will respond to any environmental influence as an introvert, not as an extrovert. However, I think environment CAN have an effect on the way a person’s personality is expressed and perceived. For example, an extrovert can be influenced by their environment to ACT like an introvert (severe abuse etc.), but they’ll still gain their energy from engaging in social interactions while alone time will be draining to them.

          I actually struggle with definitions like this personally, because I see both sides simultaneously. The way I see it, in almost all cases, the parts of a person which change over time are not their personality– they’re expressions of their personality which get mistaken as their personality. But if you look more deeply at the person, I’ve always found that their core personality has nearly always been the same. It’s difficult for me to explain, but I definitely see it when I look at people that I know well. In some cases, I can even see it in childhood photos while people who’ve known them and seen them change haven’t seen it.

          To me, the difference is that a lot of people, maybe even most people, don’t look that deeply at others.

          • Well said, Keith. You so eloquently write what I feel so often but I am unable. Thank you!

          • WhereTheTruthLies

            Yes, that was very good, the angle I hadn’t thought of. And it reminds me now of that excellent British documentary “Seven Up!” in which they follow the lives of 14 individuals for like 40 years or more. They find and refilm them every few years. You can really see their same ‘personality’ throughout it all. Many of the participants experience a lot of difficulty seeing themselves long ago, let alone all the promise and potential, and then realize where they’re at now. Wow. Very good show.

          • Russ Conte
          • Russ Conte

            Hi Keith,

            My perspective is very different from what you write, so I’m interested in learning more 🙂

            Perhaps a few examples will get the ball rolling. Were the over 900 people who committed murder and suicide at Jonestown killers and/or suicidal before they went there? Not even one of them had a prior murder conviction from what I know. The traders at Enron were ruthless and arrogant – and broke the law – were they that way when they were hired? Interviews make that very unlikely.

            The 20th century is filled with examples of people and groups that went through huge personality changes on a world stage. Were the Germans of the 1930s so anti-Semitic that they would kill and torture Jews? They were not doing it at that time, but a few years later they killed millions. What about the Shining Path, the FARC, Contras, Khmer Rouge, followers of Stalin, Mao Zedong, Rawanda, the Greek Genocide, and on and on and on?

            On the other side, Senator Robert Byrd was so racist that he was a recruiter for the KKK, he filibustered against the 1964 Civil Rights law and was the only Senator to oppose Thurgood Marshall for the US Supreme Court. Years later he renounced all those ways and openly supported legislation for Martin Luther King Day, and much more.

            Benny Lewis was an engineering student in Ireland. He flunked Irish and German in school, but that was not important, he was a nerdy engineer and he was convinced he could never learn a foreign language. After graduation he decided to move to Spain to try Spanish. He made virtually no progress after six months, and gave up, confirming what he believed about himself. He had now failed at three languages. Then he realized a better way to learn languages. Now he is conversant in at least 11 languages, travels the world challenging people to be conversant in a new language in 3 months. Quite a change for a guy who was convinced by the age of 21 that he could never learn a new language, and now his whole life has changed. http://www.fluentin3months.com

            I think genetics is much less a factor in personality than what others have posted here. My experience has shown me – to the contrary – that some people’s personalities are so easy to change that it’s downright scary. I don’t think much of personality is fixed at all, and I observe many people making large changes in the very substance of their lives, and these can last a lifetime in some cases.

            To the point – can arrogant people become humble, and vice versa? It’s definitely possible. I’m sure once people start thinking about it, examples will start popping up.

            Research has shown us that a lot of personality remains fairly fixed over the lifetime, especially the big 5 traits, but a lot of it can also change. I would challenge people to think of examples where this is true – I’m sure people will start to see them if they give it some thought. Extra points for examples where arrogant people have become humble or vice versa.

          • Sprocket

            I asked a long-time client of mine, (a prominent psychiatrist in Los Angeles ) about personality. My client said that the personality is set at 3 months of age. That early.

  • $36928916

    Do you have any insight to offer on what it says to you when people are smug? Is it the same as arrogance?

    • Smug is defined as a having excessive pride, whereas arrogance is a display of conceit.

      Smugness is more short-term in display whereas arrogance is long lasting and permeates the personality — not just one area.

  • Guest

    Do you have any thoughts on the Brittany Murphy case? The link below is a long interview with her mother and husband. As you probably know, her husband died under very similar circumstances a short time later. Recently, Brittany Murphy’s father had hair and tissue samples from his daughter’s autopsy tested at independent labs and they were shown to contain toxic levels of heavy metals.
    I would be very interested to know your impressions of her mother. The interview, and what has happened since, is all so deeply strange.


    I found your blog last month and find what you do fascinating!

    • For me to consider a suggestion, please click on Suggestion at the top of the page. I require links and time markers for key areas if the video is longer than 5 minutes. If I searched out cases all day long and listened to long interviews, I wouldn’t get much done in a day. I need people to hone into good cases for me and then let me assess them at that point. I can’t tell you how many cases I have investigated on my own to find there are no key interviews, or good questions asked, and I just waste my time.

    • Keith D.

      And welcome to the blog! 🙂

  • biffff

    Do you ever see people that were once arrogant but become humble over time? Or is arrogance a permanent condition most of the time?

    • I haven’t. I don’t believe it is 100% permanent. Some people may wise up, but I haven’t witnessed it personally.

      • biffff

        That is very helpful to know. Thanks.

      • Mark

        I think arrogance strikes people when they have some of their first successes in life. And people who are successful need to be cautious that it may go to their heads.


        • I remember kids in grade school being full of arrogance and lots of it!

          • Mark

            So do I. And I agree with you largely that it’s genetic and that people don’t change very much.

            Do you believe that non-arrogant people should consider that success could get to their head? I think that is something that can cause otherwise down to earth people to be full of themselves without getting into their core biology.


          • Russ Conte

            >people don’t change very much

            Now that’s interesting to me. I see lots of people changing all the time. Sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. I’m sure we are all familiar with stories such as the Nazi party in 20th century Germany that persuaded many people to do atrocities that they would otherwise never do – murder of children, and much more. On the other extreme, a couple of weeks ago a guy got up in church and told his story – he was a criminal who thought he would never get caught – very arrogant – but he served time, realized the errors of his ways, left that life entirely and now does works of compassion in our area. He does not come across as arrogant now.

            Some people don’t change, that’s what I see. But science and research has shown that there are factors beyond genetics that cause other people to change – in fact it’s almost scary how easy it can be to get some people to change. Others (like the criminal in church) need a huge life event (prison) before they will change, but I do see it happening. It will be very interesting to follow the research and see how much genetics plays a role and how much other factors play in looking at how people change, especially as it relates to arrogance, and looking at those who do not change.

            Thanks to everyone for good comments 🙂

          • Yes, I think non-arrogant people can lose sight and grounding, and become arrogant as well. Hmmmm…

          • Mark

            No one changes anything about themselves which they like. They only change the things which they are dissatisfied with and don’t feel good about.

            Arrogant people get feel good chemicals when they self-reflect and love it. They will most often find only great things about themselves and can’t see the bad and deal with it.

            The best approach to change in life is to be wary about feeling good about yourself and to put yourself under the microscope and to be your own worst critic. You need to endure the immediate pain of self-criticism while deriving pleasure from the long-term consequences/benefits/rewards of self-criticism. This involves a distrust of your own innate wirings, as it is pleasurable to see the good in yourself and painful to see the bad. That applies to everyone, arrogant or not.


    • Karon

      That’s a good question. I would like to see what Eyes says about this. I think the arrogant person could tune his/her personality down, if there is enough pressure on her/him, but I can’t see a long term change. I wouldn’t trust the so-called change, personally.

  • Bob1237a

    Hi Eyes, I really enjoy reading your blog! It is very informative to me. You focus mainly on US stories, and I would love to hear your opinion on some UK stories. For example, there are a number of actors involved in historic abuse cases right now. People are divided on whether they are guilty or not. I’d love to hear your opinion about them. Thanks and have a nice day!

    • Submit some suggestions on my Suggestion page above (and please follow the guidelines). Sometimes the English dialect is hard for me to understand so that is one reason I don’t cover the cases I do see. I am also not overly interested in actors. I apologize. A case has to grab my interest or I have a hard time focusing.

  • Charlie1471

    Hello eyes, i think it would be good if you posted more things about human nature which to you are likely think are very simple and self evident. Remember some of use are completely blind in this area.

    • I would love to do this, but I have a blind spot. I see the world through my eyes and I don’t know how you see the world through your eyes — to know what you would find interesting. Does that make sense? You’d have to be much more specific for me to see through your eyes, if I even can 🙂

  • carol

    Omg this is an awesome idea imo whether the news is slow or not. LOVE IT! I was thinking to email or use the suggestion feature to propose the idea, but you beat me to it. I would say, “Great minds” but that would flatter myself. 🙂 Eyes, I love all of your posts and I thoroughly enjoy the readers/fellow posters that this blog attracts. If there were a place for us to chat about any peculiar or interesting thing that springs to mind that would be great, as well as just chatting and shooting the breeze. (Since there’s no instant/private message feature) But the open posting would be more fun in that everyone could participate as opposed to private messages. Just thinking out loud.

    I don’t want to go all “fan girl” on you, Eyes, but I’ve participated in so many forums, blogs, chat rooms, etc over the years and this is one of the best by far. I’m not techy savvy, so I don’t know what a forum entails or if merely, simply an open comment section would lend itself to this type of thing. Anyway, great idea. I guess I also had in mind a place where we of like mind who are interested in what you do could share comments that are related to your work, but don’t specifically address the topic (so thereby being off topic and high-jacking the thread.) Again, this section here totally does that.

    Also, for example, there’s a book called “Destructive Emotions.” The title is a little misleading, but throughout the book is info about Paul Ekman and micro expressions and his early work on how he got started etc.. etc. Fascinating. Anyway, in later chapters there are several mentions of a very small, rare number of people (not by individual names) who were tested and are gifted in this area of reading people, detecting deception etc and I thought “EYES!” I “know” one of them. Woot!

    • $36928916

      Carol, have you joined Eyes for Lies Facebook page? I think this might fit what you are requesting.

    • Keith D.

      Hi Carol, we actually did have a forum on the site several years ago, but it takes a surprising amount of work to keep it going and maintaining quality (keeping trolls out, preventing spam and hacking etc.). It was a lot of fun while it lasted, but just wound up being too much work in the end. Eyes’s Facebook page is a pretty good mix of the two though.


      • carol

        Thanks Keith D. and seseye. I hadn’t thought of that. Doink. 🙂

  • edieinberlin

    Hi Eyes! Love the blog 🙂
    I would like to see you focus more on cases where people have been convicted for a crime but doubts remain whether they were the true perpetrators. These cases aren’t necessarily as “hot off the press” as others but you can help increase supporters of the wrongfully convicted & the work others are doing on their behalf (e.g. innocent projects).

    For example, many believe Ira Yarmolenko killed herself in North Carolina six years ago (see http://irinayarmolenko.drupalgardens.com/) even though a man – Mark Bradley Carver (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUE_RhqCn4k) – has been convicted of her “murder”. If you see no signs of deception in such material (or even when you do), it could help such cases come to a satisfactory conclusion and justice being served for all concerned. You say in the “Suggestions” section that you’re not interested in cases older than a year and I think that’s a shame in this respect.

    • For me to look at an older case, I want to know that many people are interested in my opinion. Lots of times only one or two want an opinion and I try to do things for the greater good of many rather than one.

      Second, in older cases, I need video links and time markers (I just don’t have the time to spend getting to key points anymore in interviews –because it can take a LOT of time). I need help from my readers. Many times I go to an old case that was suggested and there are no videos or if there are, no key players talk and I wasted a lot of time. Make sense?

      That’s why I suggest if you can provide what I need, people put it on my suggestion page and if enough people vote it up, there is a much better chance I will look at it. But I can’t guarantee it because with limited time these day traveling and training, I will always chose a HOT story over and old one where interest has waned. I hope that helps.

  • WhereTheTruthLies

    This is great, you should do this once a quarter or something 🙂

    I would like to see you comment on film footage from years ago. For example, JFK anniversary just came around in NOV, that would have been a nice time for you to pull out the ol’ Oswald film and make comments about his behavior.

    • I would need video links, time markers, etc. It takes too much time to research all of this stuff. People have requested it before but few want to do the homework so an analysis can be given.

      • WhereTheTruthLies

        2:19 – 3:19 UTube watch?v=4FDDuRSgzFk

  • Guest

    Why do you think this lady would go so far as to agree to meet Raffaele? http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/amanda-knox-trial-meredith-kercher-3052789#.UuFJArTnaM8
    Do you think her conviction in his innocence could have been 100% sincere? There are some videos.

    • clownfish

      i tried to delete this post so that it is in the right section (suggestions)

  • Rothko

    Great video of the difference between arrogance and confidence. I’m curious as to what are typical and not so typical give aways of arrogance that you could spot in a photograph? Such as you have on Bieber.

    Secondly I have another question: Do you have any insight in to the different sides of the face? Because often they can be different, as I understand it one side is more expressive and the image people want to project and the other side is a little more revealing in to how someone truly feels.