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Susan Constantine is a leading international expert on body language and has a particular expertise in deception detection. She granted Breaking Israel News an exclusive interview about her professional assessment of the video of Natan, an Israeli boy who claims he had a near death experience and returned to life with information concerning the End of Days.
In a signed statement obtained by Breaking Israel News, Constantine asserted, “I have reviewed the entire video and it is my professional opinion the boy Natan truthfully believes he experienced a visitation in heaven and was not being deceptive.” Her signed statement was followed by a video in which she further discussed her findings.
Constantine was hired by an Orthodox Jewish non-profit organization in Israel to assess the video. “They only wanted to know if this kid is telling the truth,” she told Breaking Israel News. She was hired through a third party and paid through PayPal, so she does not know the name of the organization that hired her. Constantine said that these factors enabled her to work more independently, explaining, “My analysis was not tainted by someone else’s agenda.”
Constantine has appeared in the media over 1,000 times, including on major news networks like CNN and MSNBC, and on television shows like Good Morning America and Dr. Phil. Media representatives call upon her regularly to analyze the body language of political leaders, celebrities and suspects in well-known legal cases.
Since her association with the video, Constantine has been contacted by numerous interested parties. She has gotten emails from lay people, from rabbis and even from the occasional “odd person” who all want to know her professional opinion.
“I knew it was important to the Jewish people in Israel. It was important to the people who hired me who wanted to know the truth. I felt it was very important,” she said to Breaking Israel News. “I went through the video over and over and consulted with my colleagues. My job was to synthesize the data. I have no specific agenda. I was hired to do a job and that’s what I did. I did all my checks and balances and collaborated with colleagues so I could conclude with all professional certainty.”
Constantine revealed that she “collaborated with four other leading experts in the field,” to make the assessment in this video, “colleagues who specialize in facial expression, body language and other fields.”
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Describing the work she does to determine if someone is telling the truth, Constantine said, “The key element is looking for incongruency, such as changes in voice, body language, tonality and facial expressions. Facial expressions are the number one tool used to detect deception.”
Quoting the work of Dr. Paul Ekman and Dr. David Matsumoto, Constantine explained that there are “seven universal facial expressions of emotion.” This is particularly relevant in Natan’s case since Constantine is a native English speaker living in the United States and Natan is a Hebrew speaking boy living in Israel.
Unlike facial expressions that are universal, “gestures,” said Constantine, “are culturally specific.” Interestingly, Constantine debunked the idea that you can tell if someone is lying by their eyes. “Research shows that averting eyes is not a sign of deception. This is commonly believed, but it’s wrong,” she told Breaking Israel News.
In addition, Constantine discounted the nervous laughter in the earliest part of the video as a possible sign of deception. Her assessment is that Natan, a 15-year-old speaking publicly in a high stakes situation, was likely nervous in the environment. She ascribed his early laughter to anxiety, not to attempts at deception.
There were several factors associated with the video that complicated her assessment. Constantine made the point that the purest data for her to work with is testimony given for the first time by a subject who tells the story all the way through without interruptions. According to the interview Breaking Israel News conducted with Rabbi Rami Levy, Natan told the story to Levy at least once before. In addition, in the retelling captured on video, Levy interrupted Natan’s story many times.
Constantine looks for a match between the words a person says and his or her nonverbal communication. When a person is telling the truth, “verbal and nonverbal should mirror each other and synchronize.”
Although she originally screened the video in Hebrew, the addition of English subtitles made her job of assessing the congruence of gestures with words more challenging than usual. One place where the congruence is easier to spot begins at the 21-minute mark. As Natan described the more frightening parts of his experience, he grabbed the book stand in front of him, as if for support.
Constantine explained the significance of Natan’s pronounced switch from first-person to third-person. “Consistently, throughout the video, he moved from first person to third person, from memory to interpretation. There is no doubt that when he says ‘I saw’, they are truthful statements,” she told Breaking Israel News.
Acknowledging that her work is not an exact science, using the tools of her craft and her best professional judgement, Constantine concluded that, “He was not intentionally misleading. I believe that Natan believes that he had a visitation in heaven and we are not to doubt that, if he believed it to be his truth.”