Lie to Me – Just the FACS

Lie to Me is a new Fox TV show revolving around a private company that specializes in lie detection via micro expressions and body gestures. The main character is Doctor Lightman, an expert in FACS, or Facial Action Coding System. Until the release of this show, not many people outside government and academia knew the science existed. The techniques in Lie to Me have been a part of regular training at most Government agencies for years.

One of the most interesting parts of the show is the use of images of prominent individuals, such as current and former Presidents, exhibiting the gestures and micro expressions that are being defined in the show.

Originally developed by Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen in 1976, the FACS, or Facial Action Coding System, is a scientific system that attaches meaning to any one of over 3,000 facial gestures and micro expressions. The character Doctor Lightman in Lie to Me appears to be based on Paul Ekman.

For an excellent example of the FACS in action, Malcolm Gladwell, author of a book called Blink, dedicates a portion of his book to exploring real world uses of the techniques seen in Lie to Me. He introduces a professor who, through use of the FACS, can determine with 95% accuracy if a couple will remain married, simply based on observing their facial and body gestures during interaction . The FACS training guide can be purchased online at

You can watch Lie to Me Wednesday evenings on Fox. All of the episodes of Lie to Me are also available on

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