Lie to Him

By Jason Marsh | January 28, 2009 | 0 comments

What does the Dalai Lama have in common with the latest Fox TV crime show?

This is not a trick question. The answer? They've both recently collaborated with Greater Good editorial board member Paul Ekman.

Yes, just a few months after he published Emotional Awareness, a series of conversations between himself and the Dalai Lama on the nature of emotion, Ekman is associated with another high-profile project, albeit one that exists at the other end of the cultural spectrum. Ekman's extensive research on human facial expressions and body language serves as the basis of the new Fox series, Lie to Me, which debuted last week and is airing its second episode tonight (after American Idol, a time slot that would make even the Dalai Lama jealous).

The show stars Tim "Mr. Orange" Roth as Cal Lightman, a "scientist who studies facial expressions and involuntary body language to discover not only if you are lying but why," according to the show's website (Disclosure: I haven't seen the show yet). Lightman uses his lie-detecting powers to help law enforcement agencies solve tough cases. Ekman maintains (as he did in this recent New York Times profile) that while the show 's premise is based on his research, the Lightman character is not directly based on him (despite the loose similarities between their names, and the fact that Lightman's organization is called The Lightman Group, not to be confused with The Paul Ekman Group).

Ekman serves not only as the inspiration for the series but as a consultant on it as well. He also keeps an entertaining and edifying blog that clues people in to the science behind the show (and is intended to let viewers know when the scripts actually stray from the science). If Lie to Me is as engrossing as Ekman's blog, the series may last–or at least last longer than Fox's ill-fated Do Not Disturb.

You can read Ekman's post-show analysis on his Lie to Me blog.

You can also read the terrific conversation bewteen Ekman and his daughter Eve–on the role of lying and trust in the parent-child relationship–in the Fall 2008 issue of Greater Good.

Finally, you can watch the video of Ekman discussing his recent collaboration with the Dalai Lama at the event Greater Good hosted in October to celebrate the release of Emotional Awareness. And you can register for the upcoming Greater Good event featuring Ekman and his protege, Greater Good Executive Editor Dacher Keltner, "Building Compassion, Creating Well-Being."

Tracker Pixel for Entry

Greater Good wants to know:
Do you think this article will influence your opinions or behavior?

  • Very Likely

  • Likely

  • Unlikely

  • Very Unlikely

  • Not sure

About The Author

Jason Marsh is the editor in chief of Greater Good.


Like this article?

Here's what you can do:

blog comments powered by Disqus



Greater Good Events

The Greater Good Science Center Summer Institute for Educators 2017
Clark Kerr Campus, UC-Berkeley
Sunday, June 25 - Friday, June 30, 2017 OR Sunday, July 16 - Friday, July 21, 2017

The Greater Good Science Center Summer Institute for Educators 2017

The GGSC’s six-day Summer Institute equips education professionals with prosocial learning strategies, tools and processes that benefit both students and teachers.


Take a Greater Good Quiz!

How compassionate are you? How generous, grateful, or forgiving? Find out!


Watch Greater Good Videos

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Talks by inspiring speakers like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dacher Keltner, and Barbara Fredrickson.


Greater Good Resources


Book of the Week

Roots of Empathy By Mary Gordon Mary Gordon explains how best to nurture empathy and social emotional literacy in all children—and thereby reduce aggression, antisocial behavior, and bullying.

Is she flirting with you? Take the quiz and find out.
"It is a great good and a great gift, this Greater Good. I bow to you for your efforts to bring these uplifting and illuminating expressions of humanity, grounded in good science, to the attention of us all."  
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Best-selling author and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program

thnx advertisement