Are you a good liar? Can you recognize when a person is lying, and how reliable are the polygraphs, the tests to determine if someone is lying?
Someone who is not a practiced liar will probably show signs of nervousness or breaking out in a cold sweat when lying about something that is crucial. Their eyes could be dead giveaways or their body language could give many clues.
However, when it comes to a practiced liar or a pathological liar or a compulsive liar, the odds are that you won’t be able to spot it.
I have listened to pathological liars and they are so convincing that you would swear they are telling the truth. The first time I ever heard the term was more than fifty years ago. A woman was telling me that she was bilked out of $10,000 by a pathological liar ($10,000 in those days was a fortune, and it was this woman’s entire life’s savings).
I had no experience with pathological liars at the time, so I was not expecting this pretty face with the look of innocence about her. This was the same woman who had bilked the other one out of all that money so I knew not to let down my guard but she looked and sounded so honest that I would never have seen it coming if I hadn’t been warned.
In later years, one of my clients had to take a polygraph test. She was a substance abuser and was applying for a job in a hospital where she would have access to prescription drugs. I asked her how she was going to pass the polygraph test and she smiled and told me she would pass it with flying colors. And she did. She got that hospital job and she was able to steal large amounts of narcotics.
Ten years later, another client was found to be a pathological liar. She could look you in the eye and tell you the most outrageous lie with the straightest face and you’d swear she was telling you the truth.
I’m in doubt that police departments, the FBI, the CIA, or any other law enforcement agency will ever have a reliable test to ascertain if someone is telling the truth. So, as of now, the only way I’d believe someone’s story about a crime that was committed, is with DNA evidence.