Monday, December 5, 2011

Lies and the lying liars who tell them

Lies and the lying liars who tell them

Why do we lie? We evolved to have this capacity. It may have been
beneficial or simply happenstance. Considering the tremendous
advantages it provides we would have to assume that it provided some
evolutionary benefit.

All humans lie. As children we learned that we could just say things
and people accepted them as true. After some time we also learn that
simply saying something is not sufficient to make it so. Even to the
listener. We learn that there is a time and a place to lie. We learn
that lies are hard to keep and they should be used sparingly.
Depending on skill we then tend to lie more or less often as adults.
The social stigma of being branded a liar also keeps lies in check.
In communication we use words and gestures and expressions and the
like. We also use empathy. Shaping the words, gestures and expressions
to make sure our audience gets the message. Empathy is one of the real
differences between higher and lower animals. Few non-humans have any
capacity for empathy. Basically it is predatory pack animals (like
wolves), generally smart animals (like dolphins and elephants), and,
of course, higher primates (like gorillas and chimps). None to the
extent that we humans express the trait though. Prairie dogs, for
instance, have a very advanced form of communication which has nouns
and verbs. Even with this and their very communal evolution, they have
displayed no traits showing empathy. Some would argue that only higher
primates have any capacity for empathy. Tests of this are hard and

Empathy is being aware of others as things like yourself and being
able to make decisions based upon that. Complex behavioral
predications and the like. I hate to call it this but it is being
aware that the other has a mind of their own.

The animal we know best can empathize (and therefore lie)is the chimp.
They deceive each other often. We have study after study to support
this. But they cannot speak. Words make lies so easy.
What makes a good liar? Well, there are physiological signs of lying
which we can detect. That is the idea of the lie detector at least.
Heart rate, perspiration, and the like. We also tend to speak
differently. Talk disproportionately too much or too little. We have
long pauses or no pauses at all. We look around a lot. Make too much
or too little eye contact. We fidget. We tend to make strange facial
expressions. It is because we are trying to act normal and never paid
enough attention to what we do when we are telling the truth. We get
it wrong. Like walking sober in front of your parents after a night of
drinking. “Act normal” is hard.

If you accept Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) you would look for
"Visual Accessing Cues". People look to the left when they lie.
Either straight left (Auditorily Constructed) or to the upper left
(Visually constructed). The idea is that you are looking to the
portion of the brain that produces constructed memories as opposed to
the right where recalled memories are drawn from. This is a load of
crap except that people do, statistically, look to the left or up and
left when they lie. The numbers are not great and no one checks this
against handedness.

A good liar is someone who does not do any of the above. Combined with
the intellect and empathy to say lies their audience would believe,
that makes a good liar.

One of the characteristics of Psychopaths (or sociopaths or Antisocial
personality disorder types or narcissistic personality disorder types
or whatever) is that they lie. They lie a lot. Problem they have is
their lies are superficial and not tailored to their audience. They
are rehearsed and not created. The Psycho fails at empathy. Their lies
are clumsy and two dimensional.
The reason many of us lie well is that we do it all the time. Every
day. There is the outright lie, the truth fudge, lie by omission,
oversimplification, declaration as fact that which we assume or think
we know without support.

Notice I did not include “white lies” in that little list. White lies
are just lies you want to avoid guilt about.
Think about the last time you told a story of any kind. You left out
information. You have to. If you did not you would take longer to tell
the story than it took for the events themselves. Words to describe
images, sounds, feelings. Lots of those were left out. You also shaped
that story for an effect. You read your audience and the circumstances
and shaped the story to fit. You lied. Sugar coat it if you like. If
it makes you feel better. You made a false representation of reality
for your own gains. Simple as that.

Now, why do people lie? I would argue that there are three reasons and
three alone. Weakness Shame and Laziness.
Lies to make yourself seem better are because you are not good enough.
That is weakness. Telling stories that put you in a good light and
avoiding those that put you in a bad light. Weakness. Avoiding
conflict by saying that the outfit does not make her look fat.
Weakness. Omitting your attraction to wearing women’s clothes. Shame.
Telling your woman that the nearly naked hottie nearby looks
scandalous and that her outfit is shocking. A little shame and a
little weakness.

Laziness I considered calling apathy. It is a social laziness which
borders on social negligence. This is the most acceptable in general.
Every time people ask you how you are doing they are lying and every
time you say fine you are lying. We all know it and have ceased to
even acknowledge the question or answer. We decided that those words
are unimportant. Don’t matter.

I have found the language of lies inherently dishonest. Little “white
lies” “stretching the truth” “shaping the story” and the like. These
are words we use to mask the fact that we are distorting reality for
our own gain.

If that is not a Lie I do not know what is.

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