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February 09, 2020

The Truth about Lying

The ultimate goal of the most people who attend seminars, read books and/or articles (including this one) and watch videos about body language is to become a good human lie detector. Am I right? Matter of fact is that developing ability to detect lies on spot and catch liars red-handed and timely with great precision is the greatest dream of many people.

After all, why it shouldn’t be? We always want to be a step ahead of liars and avoid damages done by them because it's the matter of trust which is too costly in the human world. Trustworthiness between any two individuals is entirely based on Transparency, Truthfulness and Verifiability.

However, no matter how badly we want the whole human world to walk on path of truthfulness, we just can’t eradicate the trait of lying from the basic human nature. Surprisingly, we believe in lies of others simply because we lie to ourselves too. Hence, until we don’t thoroughly understand and realize Why we lie?, we wouldn’t be able to suspect and detect lies at the first place. Hence, let’s see how, why, where, when and which types of lies are born.

In a kind of world in which competition, fighting, rivalry, scarcity, vulnerability, mortality, intimidation, dissimilarity, differences, domination, punishment, pain, rejection, out-casting, abandoning, loneliness, theft, terror, biases, barriers, injuries and threats are completely absent; people wouldn’t (need to) lie at all. The world would be nothing less than a paradise which we read about in holy books and scriptures. Correct? Unfortunately, we don’t live in such kind of an utopian world at all.

In our world, every individual fights for survival. An individual needs to find out and work on many different ways to compete, acquire resources, find a mate and pass genes to next generation while living along with thousands of people who are its present and potential allies, partners, protectors, friends, foes, challengers, competitors, rivals and intimidators. By the way, both humans and non-human entities can be pose challenges, competitions, threats and obstacles.

If an individual is immortal, enough resourceful, very powerful, very strong, extremely skilled and completely independent to live and do everything all alone for survival and propagation of genes, he/she wouldn’t (need to) lie to anybody. Lying is an easiest way for an individual to fix different types of social issues on temporary basis.

It's always worth remembering that lying is an entirely social or group activity. Any single individual can't give birth to a lie at all, no matter how badly a lie needs to take birth. Until there's no potential receiver of a lie, there's no point in giving birth to it at the first place. Hence, at least two (living) individuals are required for giving birth to a lie. Don’t you agree? Please let me explain.

A) A child rushed to home crying with no tears in eyes after beating another child. Unsuspecting yet protective mother immediately smelled potential threat to her child and rushes towards child. She asked to child that who fought with her child in the playground.

She wasted no time in asking her child if he/she caused the fight and started abusing the unseen culprit. She rushed to the playground aggressively and started looking for culprit impatiently.

B) A manufacturing company gave a clear signs of going bankrupt. Its owner became dead worried about future. The owner was desperately looking for breakthrough. Suddenly, two incompetent employee copied idea of an innovative product from internet.

One of them hurriedly presented it to the owner by saying that he/she designed the product. The owner didn’t waste time in verifying the employee’s competency to design such product.

C) A wealthy 50 year old man wanted to marry and start family. He was afraid of rejection due to his unattractive looks. One day, a lone 45 year old woman wearing makeup caught his attention in a social function which he was attending upon invitation.

He immediately got attracted towards her due to her "young looks". He approached her and started talking with her. He started flying in sky after she told her age as 25 years.

Secondly, knowing what types of lies a person can tell would help you greatly in detecting them. Following are the seven major types of lies:

A) Denial - It is refusing to acknowledge a truth. The extent of denial can be quite large i. e. they may be lying only to you just this one time or they may be lying to themselves.

B) Omission - It is leaving out relevant information. Easier and least risky. It doesn’t involve inventing any stories. It is passive deception and less guilt is involved.

C) Restructuring - It is distorting the context by saying something in sarcasm and changing the characters or altering the scene.

D) Error - It is a lie told by mistake. The person believes they are being truthful but what they are saying is not true.

E) Exaggeration - It is representing oneself as greater, better, more experienced/eligible and more successful.

F) Minimization - It is reducing the effects of a mistake, a fault or a judgment call.

G) Fabrication - It is deliberately inventing a false story.

In above three examples, desperation, fear and anxiety took hold of minds of three persons who didn’t suspect and didn't bother verify if the other person is telling the truth. Strong emotions and fundamental needs put thicker filters on their sensory perception.

One person simply got carried away with lies told by other person. Protecting themselves and their interests unconsciously made all of them to believe in what other persons told.

First lie (A) is an example of Omission, second lie (B) is Fabrication and third lie (C) is Exaggeration.

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics."
- Mark Twain

Following are a few fundamental facts about Lying:

1) People believe in lies not because they need to but they want to. By (blindly) believing in a lie, people want to save (mental) energy and time required to verify authenticity.

2) An individual’s ability of detecting lies decreases with increment in its emotional filters and biases that interfere with processing of sensory inputs and suppress rationality.

3) Any single isolated clue or hot-spot doesn’t points to lying. Multiple body language clues and signals need to be analyzed together in given context.

4) Telling a lie or lying generates stress and discomfort inside body which is unmistakably given away. Words do lie but (entire) body can’t.

5) Most people lie to satisfy and fulfill their primal drives, needs or urge if there’s no other fair ways to do so in a given amount of time.

6) The individuals who have a great control over their own emotions and biases can detect lies in other effectively.

7) When words and bodily clues start conflicting with each other, body language gives credible clues.

8) Key principle of interrogation is to induce more stress in the individual being questioned.

9) Without establishing nonverbal baseline of an individual, deviations can’t be detected.

10) Highly ambitious, apathetic and bold people tell more fabricated lies, tales or stories.

11) Lying decreases with growing in mutual confidence, empathy and trustworthiness.

12) A complete stranger can detect lies more efficiently than a familiar one.

13) Only facial expressions aren't the credible clues for catching liars.

14) Lack of proximity, accessibility and transparency often allows lying.

15) Looking into eyes isn’t a credible sign of one telling truth.

16) Controlling expressions and motions is precursor of lying.

17) Most of the lies are harmless, illogical and entertaining.

18) Most needy, greedy, weak and/or fearful lie the most.

19) Women can lie and catch lies better than men.

20) A lie eventually leaks out verbally or nonverbally.

21) Stressed liars appear relived after telling truth.

22) Inability to rationalize leads to believe in lies.

23) Psychopaths are the liars without remorse.

25) Lying is 
not at all entirely a human trait.

Only grown-ups lie? Nope! It starts from an early age which most of us wouldn't even imagine about. Babies start lying and faking right from age of 6 month. Do we only lie to others? Nope! We do lie to ourselves by twisting facts and denying them wishfully. However, a hope is a necessary lie for survival.

Lying, fabricating and faking starts at an early age in humans.

Apart of psychopaths and seasoned criminals, normal people can’t live peacefully with lies they tell to others over a long period of time. Most people lie out of fear and then become fearful out of lying. Guilt starts eating most people from inside.

In once exceptional case, an animal lied once. Koko, a female gorilla, was born in San Francisco Zoo and was trained to talk using a modified form of American Sign Language which was taught by her trainer and caretaker Ms. Francine Patterson.

One day, Koko ripped a sink out of the wall and she put blame on her pet kitten by signing "cat did it" when her keepers confronted her about it. The gorilla might have lied due to ability of speaking through sign language and prolonged proximity to humans.

Koko, a captive gorilla, lied using the sign language.

With invention of computers, the very ambition has turned into many software applications. However, modern and industrialized human civilization isn’t free from costly lies and dangerous liars. With invention of telephones and cellphones, we started lying over large distances.

With on-going development in broadband internet, quantum computing, neural networks, artificial intelligence and machine learning; lie detection might reach to a new level and go in a new direction about which we have not imagined ever before.

Related Links:
1) My career saving lie detection 2) Face of liar(?) 3) From Common Signs to Spotting Lies 4) Entire body can’t lie 5) Baseline 6) Body Language of Extreme Psychopath