Smoke out a Liar in Two Simple Steps

In this week’s mailbag, you’ll learn the easiest way to establish if someone is lying to you… the No. 1 item to take with you if you’re traveling cross-country… whether or not you should wear a bulletproof vest as part of your EDC gear… and much more. 

Check it out. 

How do you interrogate people to get truthful answers from them without them knowing what you are really doing? How can you detect if they are lying?

— Harrison D. 

The first step in detecting deception is to gauge your target and establish a baseline about their behavior. This means you need to figure out how this person normally acts in a comfortable setting. 

For example, does this person have a twitch or do they always tap their feet? If you see these movements later on when you are asking them difficult questions, you will know this is how they normally act, which means they are probably not showing signs of deceit.

Next, you need to establish a nervous baseline for the person. You can accomplish this by asking them an uncomfortable question. 

For example, let’s say you are interviewing a potential new hire for your company. You might ask them when was the last time they did drugs. This question will likely catch them off-guard, making them nervous if they have indeed done drugs (and especially if they still do drugs).

If you notice them tapping their foot after you ask this question when they weren’t tapping their foot before, you can take that as a sign as they’ve perhaps done drugs. 

Once you've established these two baselines, simply watch for physical movements or signs that the person is nervous. But remember, no lie detection method is 100% accurate — which is why polygraphs are not admissible in court. 

My son is going on a cross-country bike trip this summer. I am very nervous for his safety — as any mother would be. Do you have any advice? Is there anything I should suggest he take with him?

— Wendy W. 

I imagine your son will have very limited space to carry extra items. That being said, one thing he should absolutely take with him is a tactical pen. He can easily carry this compact device with him no matter where he is to help keep him safe. 

Other items I recommend if space allows are a quality flashlight, first-aid kit and pocketknife. In addition, I recommend taking a survival water filter — like the SurvFilter — in case he needs to purify drinking water along the way. The last thing he wants is to become dehydrated in the middle of nowhere. 

Most importantly, the best thing he can do to stay safe is use common sense. Tell him always to trust his gut and avoid dangerous situations. 

Do you have a recommendation for a compact, lightweight sleeping bag for backpacking? I live near the California desert, where it gets pretty hot during the day but cools off significantly at night. I need something that will keep me warm but won’t be a pain to lug around all day. 

— Mike M. 

Two sleeping bags I recommend checking out are the Marmot Hydrogen and the Western Mountaineering UltraLite. The Marmot sleeping bag is rated for 30 degrees while Western Mountaineering’s bag will protect you down to 20 degrees. 

These bags come in at 1 pound 7.3 ounces and 1 pound 12 ounces, respectively — so they won’t add a ton of weight to your pack. They are definitely not cheap, but I’m a believer in buying right the first time. 

I live in a very small, one-bedroom apartment. I don’t have a lot of space to store emergency supplies, specifically food and water. I have looked into renting a storage unit nearby, but I don’t think I can afford the monthly cost. What do you suggest?

— Leona V. 

In a perfect world, everyone would have at least one month’s worth of emergency supplies. However, if you don’t have any space to store survival gear, at the very least I suggest keeping a 72-hour kit in your closet. 

Hopefully, a 72-hour kit (complete with three days’ worth of food and water) will be enough to sustain you until you are able to leave your apartment and get to a safer place or be rescued after a disaster.

Depending on where you live, I’ve seen storage units you can rent for as low as $25 a month. They’re only about the size of a closet, but that should be plenty of room. If you can, I suggest cutting back on other expenses (premium cable channels, going to the movies, eating out) to come up with the extra money. 

The way things are do you think it’s a good idea to wear a bulletproof vest as part of my EDC gear or would that make me more of a target? 

— George H. 

I don't think wearing a bulletproof vest would make you more of a target as long as you conceal the vest underneath your clothes. It will, however, be hot and bothersome.  

Before joining the CIA, I worked as a police officer. I can tell you that bulletproof vests are incredibly uncomfortable — they’re not something you would want to wear every time you left your home. 

That being said, I understand your desire to keep yourself safe. That’s why I do recommend carrying a bulletproof insert in a laptop bag or backpack if you carry one of these regularly. 

Stay safe,

Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson

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