Season 3 Episode 3: Dirty Loyal


Torres says that pursed lips and puffed cheeks indicate resignation, but that is not accurate. This expression occurs when someone is thinking, resigned, relieved… it is ambiguous because it can occur for many reasons. Her next remark that “widened eyes show fear” is correct, if they are very wide open, of they are only moderately widened then it is more likely part of a surprise not a fear expression.

Distancing Language

The internal affairs detective says “when you find dirt on that woman, Wallowski, which I know there is,” Lightman repeats “that woman,” but doesn’t explain why he is repeating those words. In an earlier program he did, but for those readers who didn’t see that show let me explain: it is an instance of distancing language, When former President Bill Clinton said “I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky,” his use of distancing language suggested he was not being truthful. The ‘that woman’ phrase is not necessary, the speaker knows the person’s name, and says it but only after putting a little linguistic distance between the speaker and the person the speaker is naming.

Details, Details

Loker could be right. The details could be unnecessary, but sometimes such details are a sign the person is being truthful not lying. Foster also points out it may be a sign of her old age, and the throat clearing is due to her smoking, not a sign of lying. Vocal clues are important but the ones mentioned here are ambiguous not definitive. Alternative explanations always should be ruled out before jumping to the conclusion as Loker did, that it is evidence of deceit.


Lightman coaches Wallowski in how to lie. Nationally known high-ranking politicians have asked me to help them appear more “credible”, but I have never taken such requests. I run a school for lie catchers, I have explained, not a school for liars. Unless you have natural ability coaching won’t help anyhow; Wallowski may have such natural ability. Lightman says he thinks she is what I call a natural performer.

Measuring Vitals

Wallowski’s blood pressure, sweating, heart rate and respiration are measured during the interrogation. It looks good, it is ‘science-y’ but it won’t be of much help in determining whether she is lying. These measures only show whether she is emotionally aroused, not which emotion is aroused, let alone what triggered the emotion.


The last five minutes of the show are about loyalty; loyalty to your partner, loyalty to your son. Do you lie to be loyal? Is that justifiable? Does it depend on what the lie is about, what is being covered up? I hope to discuss this in a future newsletter.

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Season 3