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The human lie detector

The Human Lie Detector. Sounds like an exhibit you'd find on sideshow alley at an old fashioned carnival alongside the human torch, the bearded lady and the fortune teller. But when you meet Steve van Aperen (aka the Human Lie Detector), you soon know that this guy doesn't do party tricks.

What the easygoing and likeable deceptive behavioural expert does is assist police with major crimes (he's worked on 51 homicide cases) and train everyone from CEOs (including those from financial institutions) to government departments, such as the Attorney General's office, to spot fraud and make better decisions regarding clients. He also helps his mates understand the signals a woman gives if she's interested or not.

Now the 47 year old South Yarra resident is about to embark on a US television career, thanks to the Oprah Winfrey Network. Not bad for a former cop who happened to discover polygraph testing by accident.

In 1996 van Aperen was a police detective who had worked on many high profile cases, including the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain, and was interested in psychological profiling. ''I wanted to know what made serial killers and serial sex offenders tick.'' More importantly, he wanted to know why some detectives, including himself, weren't very good at spotting a liar. So he decided to visit the FBI academy in Quantico, Virginia, for some training.

''I was asked if Victoria Police utilised polygraph [lie detector] testing in homicide cases, which they didn't at the time,'' van Aperen recalls. Subsequently he became the first Victorian police officer to become a qualified polygraph examiner, but even while he was doing his polygraph training he thought it would be much more effective to have the skills to determine when someone is lying, without using a polygraph.

''From that date on it became a full time career,'' he says, adding that what he learned from the FBI, and subsequently the LAPD, was that there is no such thing as a bad interviewee; just a bad interviewer.

''If your questions are not clear, succinct, direct and concise it allows a deceptive person wriggle room,'' he says. ''Bad questions also allow a deceptive person to minimise, justify and rationalise their behaviour.''

Anyone who has seen Tim Roth in the television series Lie to Me would have an idea of what

van Aperen does. The series is based on the famous research of Professor Paul Eckman into facial configurations he labelled micro expressions the facial expressions associated with fear, anger, joy, contempt, disgust, sadness and surprise. However, while van Aperen says the show is based on truth, it's important to realise many television programs like to embellish and use poetic licence to entertain their audiences.

He also adds it is important not to confuse what he does with Simon Baker's character in The Mentalist. ''That's called cold reading,'' he says. ''Now that's a party trick. Cold readers employ high probability guesses by picking up on signals from their subjects as to whether their guesses are in the right direction or not.''

Van Aperen's system, or his ''fishing expeditions'', as he calls them, removes cartier 18k love bracelet fake the ''gut feeling'' and replaces it with solid methodology.

''Basically I look at three areas,'' he explains. ''The content and structure of verbal language, body language and paralinguistic delivery of the lie. I look for either how a person involves themselves in the story or distances themselves altogether by analysing the use of personal pronouns. With body language I look for conflict or contradiction between what a person is saying verbally and what their body language is telling me. Finally, I look at paralinguistic delivery, such as the tone, rate, inflection, response latency, ums and ahs.''

What he's learnt over the years is that there is no such thing as a good liar. ''There will always be some tell tale signs or leakage.''

My training can be divided into three main areas: learning how to detect deception; reading, understanding and analysing body language; and how to conduct effective interviews that elicit information

The trouble is that most people don't see these signs and are often influenced more by fake bracelets like cartier love the story than the content or structure. In fact, people will often avoid lying to each other but instead engage in evasive, omissive or deflective behaviours. This bracelets like cartier love copy is part of the reason why van Aperen decided his skills were transferable, and so created SVA Training.

''My training can be divided into three main areas: learning how to detect deception; reading, understanding and analysing body language; and how to conduct effective interviews that elicit information,'' he says.

Van Aperen teaches police departments, customs, defence and government agencies how to analyse deceptive verbal and non verbal cues and use behavioural analysis questions that exonerate the innocent and trip the guilty.

''All our participants came away with useful tools to assist them in detecting deceptive behaviour,'' Anne Wooding Giles, assistant registrar from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, says.

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