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The Wizards Project (formerly called the Diogenes Project) was a research project conducted by Paul Ekman and Maureen O'Sullivan that studied the ability of people to detect lies told by others. The project was originally named after the Greek philosopher who would look into people's faces using a lamp, claiming to be looking for an honest man.

A "Truth Wizard" is a person identified in the Wizards Project, who can identify deception with exceptional accuracy of at least 80% or higher, whereas the average person is only as good as a coin toss. No Truth Wizard, however, is 100% accurate. The term "wizard" refers to "a person of amazing skill or accomplishment" [1].

Scientists Dr. Maureen O'Sullivan and Dr. Paul Ekman, who lead the Wizards Project [2] identified only 50 people as Truth Wizards after testing 20,000 people (about 0.25% of the population)[3] from all walks of life, including the Secret Service, FBI, sheriffs, police, attorneys, arbitrators, psychologist, students and many others. Surprisingly, while psychiatrists and law enforcement showed no more aptitude than college freshmen, Secret Service agents were the most skilled; however, no collective group scored as well as the Truth Wizards.

Dr. Paul Ekman said on NPR that "we have found 50 who have this really nearly perfect ability to spot liars, and that’s without any specialized training."

Dr. Maureen O'Sullivan from the University of San Francisco says, "Our wizards are extraordinarily attuned to detecting the nuances of facial expressions, body language and ways of talking and thinking. Some of them can observe a videotape for a few seconds and amazingly they can describe eight details about the person on the tape."

Scientists are currently studying Truth Wizards to identify new ways to spot a liar.

Truth Wizards use a variety of clues to spot deception and do not depend on any one "clue" to identify a liar. Truth wizards have a natural knack for spotting microexpressions. They also home in on inconsistencies in emotion, body language, and words spoken with amazing skill.

Dr. Paul Ekman said on NPR, "We're still trying to find out how in the world did they learn this skill? Are they the sort of Mozarts of lie detection; they just had it?"

Ekman's work is the inspiration for the TV series Lie to Me (2009 - present), and one of the show's main characters, Ria Torres, is a "natural", otherwise known in the scientific community as a Truth Wizard.

Ekman claims that anyone can be trained to detect such microexpressions, and released a training CD for that purpose, based on data collected by Diogenes' collaborations with the truth wizards.

In Popular CultureEdit

One Truth Wizard [4] writes a popular blog on the web called Eyes For Lies, and also maintains an informative website. She has been blogging for over four years and writes about hot topics in the news. She shares her thoughts about what makes her suspect a liar.

References Edit

  1. P.Granhag and L. Strömwall, "The detection of deception in forensic contexts", Cambridge University Press, p. 269, 2004
  2. P.Granhag and L. Strömwall, "The detection of deception in forensic contexts", Cambridge University Press, p. 269, 2004
  3. Camilleri, J., Truth Wizard knows when you've been lying", Chicago Sun-Times, January 21, 2009
  4. Camilleri, J., Truth Wizard knows when you've been lying", Chicago Sun-Times, January 21, 2009

External linksEdit


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