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Truth about Lying

The ultimate goal of most people who attend seminars/workshops, read books or articles 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 with great precision is the 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. Trustworthiness between any two individuals is entirely based on Transparency, Truthfulness and Verifiability.

However, no matter how badly we want our world to walk on path of truthfulness, we just can’t eradicate the trait of lying from human nature. Perhaps, man is the only creature who lies in entire animal kingdom.

We believe in lies of others simply because we lie to ourselves. Hence, until we don’t thoroughly understand about Why we lie?, we wouldn’t be able to detect lies. Folks, let’s see how, why, where, when and which types of lies are born.

In a kind of world in which competition, scarcity, vulnerability, mortality, intimidation, fear, rejection, abandoning, theft and threat is absent; people wouldn’t need to lie at all. Unfortunately, we don’t live in such kind of world. Right?

In our world, a person needs to work on many different ways to survive, 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 and intimidators.

If a person is enough resourceful, powerful, skilled and independent to live and do everything 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. 

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. At least two individuals are required for giving birth to a lie. Don’t you agree? Please let me explain.

First of all, let’s go through three different short stories and analyze types of lie in them afterwords.

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 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 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 energy and time required to verify authenticity.

2) Person’s capacity of detecting lies decreases with increment in emotional filters that  interfere with processing of sensory inputs and suppress rationality.

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

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

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

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

7) Persons having great control on their own emotions can detect other’s lies effective.

8) Without establishing nonverbal baseline of an individual, deviation can’t be detected.

9) Lying decreases with increment in mutual confidence, sympathy and trustworthiness.

10) Key principle of interrogation is to induce more stress in person being questioned.

11) More ambitious, apathetic and bold persons tell more fabricated lies
or stories.

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

13) Only facial expressions aren't credible for catching lies and liars.

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

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

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

17) Controlling emotions and motion is precursor of lying.
18) Women can lie and catch lies better than men.

19) Lie eventually leaks out verbally or nonverbally.
20) Stressed liars appear relived after telling truth.

21) Inability to rationalize leads to belief in lies.

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, once 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.

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