all 84 comments

[–]e2scorpio 6 points7 points  (9 children)

Is there one thing that you could teach a civilian going overseas to do that would help them before they get into trouble?

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 19 points20 points  (8 children)

Just one thing would be tough, but if I could tell you only one thing would be to observe where peoples attention is. When you walk into an area, does everybody go about their business or does someone shift their body language and orient on you? Most people don't realize what cues they are giving off. Also, watch for anybody who exhibits situational awareness. Odds are they are some kind of player.

[–]thisCommentIsInAlpha 3 points4 points  (5 children)

How would you differentiate between a true player and someone that is also -perhaps naturally- situationally aware?

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 12 points13 points  (4 children)

Situational awareness just indicates situational awareness. I couldn't tell you if that person is a bad guy but most people do not exhibit situational awareness. It's either a good guy or bad guy that tend to do this. You have to figure which one they are through more sustained observation. Whoever it is just got my full attention though.

[–]quailyy 8 points9 points  (3 children)

Being a Marine who recently just got out after 5 years, in an intelligence related job, I tend to practice basic situational awareness almost everywhere I go. Especially when out with family or wife.

A week or so ago I was in Target while my wife was walking up and down a cosmetics aisle and I was staying with the buggy on my phone and people watching. I likely looked suspicious since I have fully grown out my beard and was wearing loose fitting, comfortable sweats.

I noticed an employee acting like he was looking at something on a shelf down the aisle but he wasn't really doing anything.. Then he looked at me and we made eye contact and I kept my gaze until he looked away. Then as he walked away I could see by the writing on his shirt that he was store security. Made me chuckle a bit.

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 7 points8 points  (2 children)

Semper Fi Brother! That is textbook example of knowing where peoples attention are focused. When you try to act like you're doing one thing but really doing something else, it can stick out if you're paying attention. Also when someone's behavior appears to have no beginning or end you need to pay attention.

[–]jack_peter321 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Thank you for writing “try to” instead of “try and”!

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

No problem ;)

[–]e2scorpio 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Thanks very much, I am pretty happy go lucky individual, sadly I know I am not that observant, so thanks much for the tip!

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

You might not think you're observant but we are all actually hardwired for it. It's just like working out a muscle group, all you need is some training and it kicks back in!

[–]hikermick 5 points6 points  (6 children)

What is the most common indication that someone is up to no good? Looking for something practical we can all use in our day to day lives. Thanks in advance!

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 13 points14 points  (5 children)

There are many behaviors out there but one you need to pay attention to is Pacifying behavior. Rubbing the back of the neck, self touch, face cleansing, tapping of the foot. wringing hands etc. This indicates that an individual is under some type of fear or threat response. Doesn't mean 100% he is a bad guy, just that person is dealing with upper levels of stress and you should pay attention.

[–][deleted] 4 points5 points  (4 children)

You just described every little bit of my behaviour when I am sitting in a bar drinking some beers. Yet I am not looking for fights or trouble, I am just stressed because of anxiety and depression. Can those things cause the same body language ?

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 5 points6 points  (2 children)

Yes they can. Your brain is very binary when it comes to threat. Either it's a threat or not to your brain and your body will react in similar ways. This is why I never say "oh he's lying" or "he's 100% a bad guy!" You have to do some type of sustained observations to tell if someone is up to no good.

[–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Holy shit I never knew those were signs of somebody being up to no good. Guess I´ll have to work on my body sign language and calm down a bit. Thanks a lot !

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Got to start somewhere!

[–]PoachingFacts 4 points5 points  (8 children)

Hi Mr. Badou. Tracking is a large part of anti-poaching operations throughout southern Africa. Usually tracking operations are a result of a failure to deter poachers from targeting and entering a property or park, resulting in scrambling tracking teams and stop-groups who attempt to interdict fleeing suspects. Having talked with trackers of various nationalities and disciplines, it's always interesting to hear about their own training and how they've utilized their tracking skills in the field.

Did you have any interesting experiences while going through your tracking/trailing courses? What has been the longest spoor/track that you and/or your team has followed and what kind of support did you have?

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 7 points8 points  (7 children)

I have always been a big supporter of the Anti Poaching efforts and commend you for what you're doing. I bet we know some of the same people ;)

I've been a tracking instructor for 10 years so I have had some pretty interesting stories but the best ones always come from my students. The one that always comes to mind is when a unit of guys I trained called me directly from Afghanistan with a tracking win. Their unit was about to enter a compound and he insisted he scan it first for any sign. He scanned the courtyard and got a bad gut feeling and wouldn't allow thy unit to enter the compound. After everything calmed down, they engineers searched the building and found 13 IED's just in the courtyard. It would have been a catastrophic attack. That one still gives me the chills.

[–]PoachingFacts 3 points4 points  (6 children)

There's no replacement for the development of sound intuition and excellent training. Glad to hear your student and his unit made the right decision.

Thanks for the kind words, your efforts, and your wisdom!

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 2 points3 points  (5 children)

No worries but now I got to ask. What's your favorite tracking story?

[–]PoachingFacts 3 points4 points  (4 children)

This is not the most action-packed, but one of the best trackers I've met has told me a couple great stories. They are not mine to repeat, but here is a funny one I can share:

This tracker was doing in-ops training with a large group of rangers and they tracked some suspected poachers through the woods of Malawi for several hours, finding the usual spoor: foot prints, a bit of counter-tracking sometimes, occasionally the men would squat or sit on the ground to rest. But they didn't see the expected imprints of a rifle butt in the sand near where the suspects rested. Curious.

The rangers went on until they damn near walked into a huge pit in the forest ground that had been covered over with a tarp and some leaves. After exploring it a bit, they found that it was plenty large enough to hide even the largest mammal species in Africa.

Naturally the rangers setup an ambush around the pit, figuring that whoever had been digging would be back eventually. The forest was unfortunately quiet at night because of the dramatic level of bushmeat poaching that had been going on for years. It was rare to see or hear even small mammals - or the animals that prey on them because their populations had been reduced so significantly.

The poachers came back and were interdicted (not without a small chase, I imagine). When asked why they had dug the large pit they explained that they had no guns, but were planning to trap an elephant in the pit, presumably to kill it for its ivory. The rangers were somewhat surprised by this, because elephants had migrated away from the area years ago as a result of the civil unrest and poaching.

When told this one of the poachers replied along the lines of "yes, but if I do not make a trap, I cannot catch anything."

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 2 points3 points  (3 children)

Ha! Great story! I read a really great book on Tracking in Africa. It's called Shadows in the Sand by Sisingi Komango. It's about South Africa's "Koevoet" unit. It stands for "crowbar" because the would "pry" the bad guys out of the area. Your story reminded me of some of their stories.

[–]PoachingFacts 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Thanks, I will look into this! I recently read "Koevoet!" by journalist Jim Hooper and man, the things those guys did took some balls! Pry indeed. Granted, they had up-armored vehicles and were properly equipped for the opponent they were facing, but it emphasized the tenacity of their spirit and their unit cohesion.

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Those guys were nuts! They would have their trackers run the entire track line sometimes with the threat of booby traps!

[–]cargosizedrumor 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Hi Yousef! Would you recommend "Left of Bang" for civilians as a form of continuing education on the subject of awareness and profiling? Additionally, are there any other books other than your awesome courses that would help us stay sharp?

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Enthusiastically recommend the book. The author and I served together at the program and it is the meat and potatoes of what I teach. However most people just read a book and think the learning stops there. If you want to get good at profiling you have to constantly exercise it like a muscle group. Another good primer is "what everyBODY is saying" by Joe Navarro (sp) and "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin DeBecker to get you started.

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[–]AErrorist 2 points3 points  (1 child)

How can you maintain good situational awareness without giving off the telltale signs that you are?

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

That is actually pretty hard to do if you are maintaining real situational attention. It's actually what I rely on to give people away. There are some types of urban masking like sunglasses and head ware that can minimize some indicators but not get rid of all of them. You can fool some people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time.

[–]Taj_Mahalo 2 points3 points  (2 children)

Can you target human predators in the more urban social setting? The opportunistic ones that have spent a life-time blending in?

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Depends on what you're asking. Your typical criminal doesn't usually realize how much their behaviors can give off. I often tell my classes natural human behavior is just that, natural. When it doesn't match, those people will stick out. On top of that, the other non-criminals in that area can be giving off cues when the actual criminal comes around. Even if they are being super-ninja, other people know them and their actions and can give off indicators too. Let me know if this is what you were asking about and if not, I can elaborate.

[–]FanOfGoodMovies 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Do you look for things like behavioral signals that show they are intending to do something, and look for normal things that are out of place?

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 3 points4 points  (0 children)

You just summed up the training pretty well. Establish baselines or behavioral norms in a given setting then try to spot for anomalies in that baseline. There is a ton of information swirling around your head at any given moment and training can help you spot these pre-event indicators.

[–]coryrenton 1 point2 points  (3 children)

What are the most interesting examples of false positives or false negatives you've encountered?

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 5 points6 points  (2 children)

Not super over the top but you always get in trouble when you let your biases creep in. I was contacting an individual who looked disheveled, scruffy and over all bad vibe. I was thinking great this guy's gonna be a treat. I talked to him and he was the nicest most helpful guy I talked to that day. It's hard but you have make the most objective observations you can.

[–]coryrenton 1 point2 points  (1 child)

which celebrities that have not been accused of misbehavior yet give off a vibe that makes you think they may be hiding something?

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Sorry, I really stay away from social profiling as the farther you get away from the brains fear center, the less reliable the behaviors become. On top of those people got famous for acting!

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I'm going to shove off for about an hour but I'll be back. Great questions so far, keep em coming!

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Annnnd I'm back!

[–]helloze 1 point2 points  (6 children)

Hello, are some people sharper in general and able to pick up on behavior and body language better than others? Can you straight up teach someone these skills or is there the need for a seed of perception in the student?

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 3 points4 points  (5 children)

Just my opinion, but my students who grew up in bad areas had a lot more natural talent for observing anomalies. Having said that, we are all hardwired to profile, we've just gotten so far away from it with the advent of technology. Through training I like to say that I'm not teaching you anything new, just waking up parts of the brain that have been dormant for a while. Everyone can learn!

[–]helloze 2 points3 points  (4 children)

Yeah, living in relative security removes the need to pay attention, learn patterns and discern changes. I liked the part where you compare it to a muscle group.

Apart from exercising these skills, are there some of the personality traits you have developed that make you better at this task? Do you feel like the work has influenced you as a person?

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 1 point2 points  (3 children)

"Learn patterns and discern changes" That is exactly what I want people doing. Most people walk around paranoid or in a state of "hyper vigilance" that can't be maintained over time. By basing you observations on specific behaviors it's like a mental checklist. Now your scanning with confidence rather than fear as a motivator.

As for being influenced, hey just cause you're paranoid doesn't mean there not out to get you ;)

[–]helloze 1 point2 points  (2 children)

There are mentions of plenty of books throughout this thread about behavior and body language. Any recommendations for references on tracking?

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Yes!! Some tracking love! For a great story on a tracking team in South Africa "Shadows in the Sand" written by Sisingi Kamango. If your looking for more of a technical manual David Scott-Donelan's "Tactical Tracking Operations" is a great way to learn the mechanics of tracking. David has been a mentor for the last ten years. Those will lead you down the rabbit hole.

[–]helloze 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Ok thanks!

[–]rexkoner 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Do you have any books to recommend?

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Gift of Fear Just 2 Seconds On Killing Shadows in the Sand Tactical Tracking Operations What everybody is saying

[–]Atony94 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Thanks for doing the AMA!

As a new police officer I was trained to "always watch the hands, these are what will kill you" but I've always been under the assumption to watch the person I'm in contact with's face cause that will give the tells I need to know if they're a threat or not. In your opinion do you believe the tells from the face or the tells from the hands are more important or is it a combination of both?

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I would have to defer to hands. Hands are the weapons of the body so there is my nearer danger. Besides that I would watch for target glancing, looking over their shoulder looking for routes or worse continuous glancing at your weapon. Bad ju ju. Might indicate they are feeling froggy.

[–]NoSeafoodAllowed 1 point2 points  (1 child)

As someone who is insanely curious about people watching and noting peoples behavior, I'm surprised to see that this is something that one can actually study. I'm currently an undergrad in college studying criminal justice, and have a vested interest in national security. How can I further my study (maybe in grad school) and focus on this field in particular?

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

That's a great question. There is no degree program specifically tailored for this subject matter. Most academic behavior analysis is geared towards clinical observations. All the subjects exist in academia, just not in one place. If it helps, for the people who can't make it to my seminars I have online classes on my website. I have released 2 classes and am working on the next ones right now. https://behavior-profiling.thinkific.com/bundles/level-one

[–]ItJasper 2 points3 points  (1 child)

The Secret Service has been getting a lot of flack over the last couple of years-- is there anything you think they should be doing better?

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 6 points7 points  (0 children)

SS is a very tough job with a very tough mission but they are one of the most well trained units out there. If you think about it, they do a job were they have to be 100% right every time and humans are not infallible. What I suggest to anybody I train is if your organization is 98% efficient, those are good numbers right? However you can always squeeze a few more percentage points into your efficiency. Never get complacent with your training.

[–]BurgNast 1 point2 points  (1 child)

How accurate is the show Criminal Minds?

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I haven't actually seen that one but i assume it has to do with Criminal Profiling. I focus on real time observation of threat behavior to disrupt a threat before it happens. Criminal profiling is mostly to do with building a psych profile on an individual and using algorithms to narrow down a search field. You have to watch what movies and TV put out as they are there to entertain. A great new show on the beginning of criminal profiling in America is called Mindhunter. Not to be confused with the older movie Mindhunters.

[–]Proximity_13 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Hi Mr. Badou! Do culturally driven behaviors (like etiquette) ever change how you would track behavior? Like in a completely foreign country for example.

[–]PeoplePredictor[S] 4 points5 points  (0 children)

For me, I stay away from training cultural behavior learned behaviors. Not because they are not important, they are, but that is for you to figure once you get there. I never know where my students are going so I can't really spend to much time on it. I focus on hard wired survival behaviors exhibited by all humans no matter where you go.

[–][deleted]  (1 child)


    [–]PeoplePredictor[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    The youtube link is me providing my username and date now. Thanks.

    [–]KarlJay001 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    What does it take to change someones's behavior?

    I've studied behavior economics and find some people just can't change their behavior. Things like controlling addiction, spending, etc...

    [–]AnonymouslySuicidal 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    What advice would you give for safety to someone planning to travel to Mexico, Peru or Colombia? (Or anywhere with a higher than small village in the woods population?

    [–]GodofWar1234 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Tips/tricks for someone hoping to become a Marine after high school?

    Thoughts and opinions on JROTC, CAP, etc. cadet programs?

    What was your rank?

    Any scary/disturbing/“WTF was that” stories?

    Boot stories?

    Boot thing that you did or saw new Marines do?

    How can I uh, “start” (for a lack of better term) tracking, using my gut instincts, etc.?

    [–][deleted]  (1 child)


      [–]PeoplePredictor[S] 7 points8 points  (0 children)

      Hmmm tough question. They have great intentions but they get bogged down with a lot of regulation and rules. My training consists of observing something out of place and then ACTING on it. That ability gets worn down when you have three levels of approval you have to go through.

      [–]practicaldad 0 points1 point  (3 children)

      I see you have a picture of the VPD in your website. What services did you provide for them?

      [–]PeoplePredictor[S] 1 point2 points  (2 children)

      Sorry, that is just stock photos I licensed. I haven't done any training in Vancouver yet. I will hopefully be in Toronto in April for a seminar though!

      [–]practicaldad 0 points1 point  (1 child)

      I hope one day you have seminars in Vancouver.

      [–]PeoplePredictor[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

      I would love to visit! We'll see what 2018 brings ;)

      [–]opie_is_a_poop 0 points1 point  (14 children)

      Is it so?

      [–]PeoplePredictor[S] 0 points1 point  (13 children)

      Mmm yes?