Spot the Fake Smile


You’ve landed on the blog of a “natural”

as depicted in the show “Lie to Me”

Take a test!

Test your skills. See if you can spot a fake smile!

It’s a challenging test.

* * *

I scored 15 out of 20 correct.

What did you score?

Detecting Lies: Three Categories

Here is some mad science from my head!

I’ve realized that when I am reading someone as to whether or not they are telling the truth, I quickly categorize them into one of three categories within seconds:


Positive people are those who immediately convince me they are trustworthy. It’s because their expressions are so genuine, or their actions, words or overall demeanor are very sincere. There is instantly no doubt about it: they are telling the truth. You just know they are being honest.

Most often, I don’t even have to listen to what positive people are saying, because their facial expressions are a dead giveaway: They are overflowing with emotion. It’s the sincere overflow of emotions that lead me to this conclusion.
Tom Cruise, with regard to the Katie Holmes engagement, is one person right now that comes to mind who is overflowing with genuine emotion. You can just watch his facial expressions and know that he is telling the truth, without even listening to what he has to say. Try lying and making those facial expressions with his enthusiasm: You can’t do it, no matter how hard you try.

The opposite of positive is, of course, negative. Negative people do things that instantly tell me they are lying. From telling stories that don’t make sense, to awkward speech patterns, to inappropriate facial expressions that contradict their story, to endless stuttering. They give instant clues that they are being deceptive. Most often, though not always, it is the emotions on their face that tell their story first.
The next type of person is a neutral person. These people are hardest to read, because these people don’t express a lot of emotion. Neutral people tend to lack genuine enthusiasm, and most often come across as someone who is not excitable. They usually come across as mundane and monotone.
While the majority of people who fall into the neutral category are suspicious, it does not mean that they are lying. And that is where it gets tricky. Some people just lack normal expressive emotions and instead are subdued, even when they are telling the truth.
When I realize I have categorized someone in the neutral category, I really have to focus to get to the truth, and it doesn’t always come quickly like it does with positive and negative people—it takes minutes rather than seconds (or even longer!). Listening to their story becomes imperative. With a rare few, sometimes I am not able to discern the truth, and I have to give it up until more information presents itself.

Neutral people who are liars are usually psychopaths.

What makes it even more tricky is that some psychopaths who are lying give off emotional indications that are supportive to their story, even though they are lying. You have to see this in action to understand it. They even make facial expressions that are consistent with what they are saying. It’s twisted and hard to explain until you can experience it.

What usually gives away that a neutral person or a pathological person is lying is that the actual events of their situation aren’t logical. These people stretch the truth, play on the “what-ifs” and the could-be-possible-odds too many times for reality to be present. When you add up all the usual bits to their story, the odds become one-in-a-million, or statistically very, very unlikely. That, combined with other subtle hints, all add up to give away a neutral or pathological liar.

Also, it is common for liars to dull their emotional responses and try to play neutral, but these liars are actually not true neutrals. I’ll call them false neutrals. These people leak information differently than classic neutral liars: They flicker emotions and microexpressions, whereas the true neutral liar likely will not. One suspect that comes to mind who acts like this right now is Joran van der Sloot. Of course, I am not accusing him of lying. However, I just think his behavior is very suspicious.

A false neutral liar’s speech may become unnaturally slow as if someone taped them and played it back in slow motion. It’s rather odd, because when they speak the truth, their speech rate increases to normal or above, but when they lie, they suddenly slow their speech way down, or vice-versa. Again, a true neutral liar will not do this. He will be the same throughout the interview. He will not change or vary at all. He is highly controlled in his all of his responses, or flat out lacks emotions, which is notable.

Sadly, most people want to give others the benefit of the doubt, and that is how these neutral masters of deception get away with lying so frequently. That’s how pathological people kill successfully! That is how serial killers get away with their crimes for so long. People don’t add up the odds—they don’t put the intricate piece of the puzzle together.

Neutral people who are lying are usually pathological liars, though not all pathological liars are neutral.

Natural Law

I believe nature naturally rewards us for telling the truth. The more we tell it, and live by it, the more confident we become, and the more self-assured we are. When we are honest, we have nothing to hide which frees the mind and body. We can look in the mirror and be proud.

However, when we lie — we doubt ourselves because we distort the facts. We question our sanity, we distrust our own being as well as everyone around us. Lying errodes our confidence and puts us on a path of insecurity, doubt, fear and uncertainty.

It’s the law of nature.

Forms of Lies and Responses

Lies can take on many forms. Here are two forms I’ve identified: eventful and hurtful.

Eventful lies are when someone lies about things or events that do not directly affect you. For instance, your friend tells you she is happy when she is not. Or she tells you she is on a diet and losing lots of weight, when you can clearly see with your own eyes that the opposite is happening. With eventful lies, you are not the target of the lie. It may make you feel upset, mad or uncomfortable because you feel as if you are being played for dumb. However, if you think about it, these lies truly have nothing to do with you—it’s all about the liar.

Why do people tell eventful lies? Plain and simply because they are unable to cope with the truth. They don’t even consider how you feel when they lie—it’s all about their inability to cope. The reality is that their life is painful; instead of dealing with it, they try to bury it—and the more they try to bury it, the more and more they lie. It’s a vicious cycle which only robs the liar of self-esteem and confidence. It’s sadly a self-defeating coping mechanism, and worse, it pervades our society today. So many people are suffering the self-inflicted ills of eventful lies. It’s sad.

Hurtful lies, however, are when someone sets out to tell you something that (a) involves you; or (b) with the knowledge that saying such a lie can and/or will hurt you. In this instance, your friend tells you she stayed home last night sick when you know from another friend she actually went out to a party. Hurtful lies are the lies that are not easily forgotten. These are the lies that are destructive to any form of relationship.

Several readers have written to me over the past month asking me questions like “How do you deal with lies?” “Do you confront liars?” “Do you tell a friend who is living in denial the truth when she can’t see it?”

When people lie to me, I always ask myself: What is their motivation?

Are they unable to cope with the world? Or are they trying to be hurtful? When people lie and I see that it’s because they are unable to cope with their world, I can often let the lie slide. I don’t get jarred or upset, because I realize the liar and his/her lies have nothing to do with me. These lies are all about the person who is lying. How can you be mad at someone who can’t even be honest with themselves? An eventful liar may be a good, kind heart who just isn’t able to cope with life.

When I was younger, I tried fruitlessly to help eventful liars, but in the end, I only isolated myself. It’s best to leave people in denial (after offering a hint or a suggestion and getting rejected), because they aren’t going to change simply because you say the truth. They usually know the truth, but are running as hard as they can away from it. Do know that they will only change when they are good and ready. If you don’t like it, I suggest you distance yourself to a comfortable location. There is little you are going to be able to do. Denial is an ugly, powerful monster.

Should you confront the hurtful liar? Well, the choice is certainly yours, but it is going to be an uphill battle, and it is a battle you’ve already lost. If someone tells you a hurtful lie, you already know, without having to go any further, that they are going to put their own interests ahead of yours—every time—and so the value of the relationship has disintegrated. You now know you are not valued anymore. Essentially, if you ask me, the relationship has disintegrated beyond repair, for good. So what is the point of confrontation?

The only time I will ever confront anyone is if I have established a very close relationship with them, and I know that I have some potential to get through to them. When I am in a close relationship like this, I know that honesty is valued, and in these situations, I will work hard to have the truth prevail. If I can’t get through, I will worry about the future of our relationship.

How do I approach them? I approach them with love, kindness and concern. I am never brutal, cruel or mean. I tell them that I am concerned and worried. I question them and express my fears. I try to lead them to the truth. I tell them that I love them more than anything, and that I am willing to lay all my feelings on the table, even if it means risking losing the relationship, because I care so much about them that I can’t handle seeing this situation deteriorate any further.

You must have the type of relationship that was built on honesty in order to endure this. If you don’t, it could very well be the end of your relationship, though you may find the risk worthy for the good of a friend. You just have to be willing to lose your friend with honorable intentions. It’s all about being honorable. You can do this in any relationship so long as you are certain your intentions are true and are out of pure love for your friend.

In an ideal world, all friendships would be based on honesty. We wouldn’t face eventful or hurtful lies, but the sad fact is we do, every day. We thankfully see a million times more eventful lies than we do hurtful lies, which makes it a little easier, because we know it is nothing personal.

As my mom always says, “If you have to hide something, ever, something is wrong—very wrong. Let that be your guide.”

I hope this helps you take a new perspective on the lies you face. Why are you/they hiding that? What was the motivation of that lie? Is it really about them, or is it all about you?

Seeing the Truth for what it is…

…is difficult if you are emotionally involved in a situation. Even if you have an extra-good radar for the truth, as I do, if you add emotions, the lie-dar gets fuzzy, making the truth harder and more challenging to decipher.

As long as you remain emotional, you’re likely heading down a dangerous path if you have to act or make decisions!

I believe that as humans, we have two conscious brains for thought: our emotional brain and our logical brain. I also believe that it is critical to be able to differentiate between our emotional brain and our logical brain. It’s quite easy to do, but you must be disciplined with yourself in order to do it.

When we endure a painful situation, our emotional mind starts playing tricks with our head. It keeps “replaying” over and over again the good memories of things we’ve lost, as if we can have them back: “if only…” Or it makes a difficult situation seem outright desperate. Our emotional mind makes us feel like we’ve been stuck into a dark abyss that has absolutely no way out (or only one out: the wrong one!). Our emotional mind torments us, cripples us and keeps us in a limbo situation. It doesn’t ever give us peace or resolve.

We can be having a good day (trying to get back on our feet) when WHAM!” our emotional mind decides it is time for us to remember something “oh, so sweet” that is now gone (your children in divorce, a failed relationship, a loved one, etc). Our emotional mind is the one that moves us to tears in difficult situations and makes us torn about what to do! It is deceptive, and represents a trickery to our sanity. It paints things rosier-than-rosy and blacker-than-black. Our emotional mind is very dramatic.

Your logical mind, however, does not trick you. It is honest and straight to the point. However, like the devil and the angel, the angel doesn’t always prevail unless you force it to. You have to consciously work at being logical and at denying your emotional mind the liberty to sabotage you.

Your emotions will never be up to any good in difficult situations. This is when they will not be trustworthy—only your logic will be…

When you start to feel overwhelmed with either happy past memories of what was, or you get overburdened with all that you don’t have now, you have to stop your mind from creating all those vivid thoughts of lost times. You have to stop it dead in its tracks and say to yourself, “That’s the pastthis is now. Where can I go from here? Today is the first day of the rest of my life.”

Then you have to force yourself to see the truth. Was it really that rosy (or is it that dark)? What it really that good (or bad)? Weren’t there problems that caused things to get to this point (There always are!!)?

What were those problems?

The problems you think about are your truth. They will be logical occurrences that happened to bring you where you are today. Write down the problems that popped up before things got to that stage of emotional torment. Own them, claim them, and then each time your brain plays tricks on you and you start to get emotional, pull them out, read them, and remember them. Then continue to take steps to move forward.

By doing this, you will logically deprive your emotions, and your brain will slowly clear. You will start to think rationally. With that, logically you will see problems for what they are, and you will see the truth about how to resolve your situation. It may take a few days, but if you are vigilant, the truth will come so long as you stay in your logical mind and deny your emotions by pushing them out of your head. You can succeed and find your truth!

When I am really having a difficult time deciphering the truth, I ask myself:

Is this fear?

Or is this what I really believe to be the truth?

If I am facing something fearful, I realize that I am dealing with my emotions, so I dig deeper. I dig until I know I see the truth and I know I have no fear. You will know the truth—you will feel it. You will feel confident and strong. Lies makes us feel weak, and vulnerable, and afraid. Emotions can deceive us, make us feel weak and incapable. Just remember that.