Science & Tech

Meet Your Instructor

John Douglas

Lesson time 08:13 min

Former FBI Special Agent John Douglas introduces himself and his journey in becoming the first criminal profiler. He discusses how he became interested in the idea that behavior is predictable, which led to the FBI’s first criminal profiling program. You’ll get a glimpse into how these methods are valuable in everyday life.

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Topics include: Meet Your Instructor


[MUSIC PLAYING] JOHN DOUGLAS: Super Bowl Sunday, January, 1972, Detroit, Michigan. J. Edgar Hoover wanted 1,000 arrests made in the United States. The Super Bowl is one of the most lucrative betting events in sports. But back in 1972, most NFL bets were illegal. Illegal gambling was rampant throughout the United States, primarily run by the organized crime families. But meanwhile, back in Detroit, now I'm about 26 years of age, my first office of assignment. The FBI took advantage of Super Bowl Sunday to do a cross-country gambling raid and catch illegal bookmakers in the act. My assignment that day was to arrest two or three of these characters here. The second guy I arrested, got him into the car, and it's raining that day. Good-looking guy. He looked like-- to me, he looked like Paul Newman, kind of a young Paul Newman. And I said, Frank, man-- I said, Frank, why are you doing this stuff, man? Why are you doing it? And I said, how old are you, kid? 26. You don't get it, kid. You don't understand. And I said, what do you mean? And he looks over the right side of the pane of glass, and he says, you see those two raindrops over there off to the side? I said, yeah. I said, I bet you the one on the left gets down to the pane of glass before the one on the right. He said, OK, let's go. Not betting any money. OK. Let's go. So here go to the drops. They come down. He wins. And he looks over back at me, and he said, see what I mean? I said, what? You just beat me in a raindrop race. What are you talking about? He says, we don't need a Super Bowl. No. All we need are two raindrops. Because we are who we are. Crime is in our heart and our soul. And whatever you do, we're going to keep doing it. When he said that, I started thinking, if they are who they are, if they're not going to change, it's predictable. If they are who they are, we may be able to predict their behavior and cut them off at the pass. It was on that rainy day in Detroit that the idea of criminal profiling took hold. And I never let it go. [MUSIC PLAYING] I'm John Douglas. I was in the FBI for 25 years, developed an investigative tool called criminal profiling. Some of the bigger cases in my career were the Atlanta child murders, the Green River Killer, the Unabomber case, the Trailside Killer, and the BTK Strangler case out of Wichita, Kansas. [MUSIC PLAYING] I'm going to teach you some of the techniques I've used as a FBI agent, as a criminal profiler working thousands upon thousands of cases. [MUSIC PLAYING] In 1990, I got a call from director Jonathan Demme. He's got this movie called "Silence of the Lambs," and he's going to be filming that down at the FBI Academy. And he hired actor Scott Glenn to portray me in the movie. They will recreate my office elsewhere because when they came down to my office, they saw really how depressing it really was. We were 60 feet underground. We would say we were 10 times...

About the Instructor

Netflix’s “Mindhunter” was inspired by the FBI’s first criminal profiler, John Douglas. As chief of the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, he conducted groundbreaking interviews with notorious criminals such as Charles Manson and Ed Kemper, changing interrogative tactics forever. On MasterClass, he teaches you to use his methods in everyday life, unlocking your intuition to read people's motives.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

John Douglas

Legendary Special Agent John Douglas teaches how criminal profiling methods can help you predict people’s motives to benefit your everyday life.

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