How to Spot a Liar

Humans deceive.
That’s the plain and painful truth.
In the increasingly dark times we live in, we need to practice spiritual jujitsu or self-defense, and hone our ability to discern when someone is lying to us, especially if that someone is a politician because the lies will affect our lives, negatively.
Pamela Meyer is the author of the book, LieSpotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception. In this TED lecture in 2011, she offers many very useful tips on how to spot a liar.

Below are the notes I took from the video. [Words between brackets colored teal are mine.]

Some Facts About Lying

  1. On any given day, we lie or are lied to from 10 to 200 times.
  2. Lying is a cooperative act: A lie is effective only when another cooperates with it because it’s something we want. That is why although we say we’re against lying, covertly (secretly) we’re for it.
  3. We lie 3 times within 10 minutes of meeting a stranger.
  4. We lie more to strangers than to people we know.
  5. Extraverts lie more than introverts. [Politicians are extraverts!]
  6. Men lie 8 times more about themselves than women; women lie more to protect others.
  7. We lie once in every 10 interactions with our spouse. The number drops to 3 in interactions with an unmarried partner.
  8. The more intelligent the species, the larger the cerebral cortex, the more likely is the species to be deceptive. That suggests lying has an evolutionary advantage.
  9. Human beings lie from the very beginning [Original Sin: We are born tinder for sin (fomes peccati)]:
  • Babies already deceive: They fake a cry, then pause and watch to see if anyone buys their fake crying.
  • One-year-olds know how to conceal.
  • Two-year-olds bluff.
  • Five-year-olds lie outright, e.g., they manipulate with flattery.
  • Nine-year-olds have mastered the coverup.
  • By college age, humans like to their parents in one out of 5 interactions.
  • By the time we enter the working world, we’re immersed in lies and deception.

Lie Spotting: How to Spot a Liar

There are two patterns [or modes] of deception: Speech and Body Language.

1. Speech:

  • Non-contracted denial: A denial that is over-determined, i.e., employs formal, instead of informal, language to deny, e.g., Bill Clinton said “I did not have sex with that woman . . . Miss Lewinsky.”
  • Distancing language: Use of language that (unconsciously) distances the speaker from the subject. Example: “I did not have sex with that woman.”

Bill Clinton

  • Qualifying language: e.g., saying “to tell the truth” or “in all candor.”
  • Repeating the question in its entirety. [My guess: this is a tactic to buy the liar more time to think of how to lie.]
  • Over-sharing: Peppering one’s account with too much detail.

2. Body language:

Freud said, “No mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips.”

  • Liars, instead of fidgeting, actually freeze their upper bodies when they’re lying.
  • Liars look you in the eye a little too much, to compensate for the myth that liars avoid eye contact.
  • Liars smile a fake smile, i.e., they smile only with their mouth, but not with their eyes, which can’t be faked.

liespotting

  • Attitude: An honest person is cooperative, on your side; enthusiastic, willing and helpful in getting to the truth, willing to brainstorm, provide details; feels infuriated if falsely accused, not just in flashes but throughout the entire course of the interview or conversation; favors strict, instead of lenient punishment for transgressors. A deceptive person is withdrawn; looks down; lowers his voice; pauses; peppers his story with lots of and irrelevant details; tells the story in strict chronological order.
  • Giveaway body language (beginning at 11:40 mark):
    • Shaking our head when we say “yes” (e.g., Democrat VP candidate John Edwards, 12:00 to 12:30 mark in video).
    • Shrugging our shoulders when we tell a convincing lie.
    • Duping delight: Smiling with delight at getting away with a terrible crime (e.g., O. J. Simpson).

    OJ Simpson duping delight

    • Masked expression: Be on the lookout for spotting the real expression that’s masked or concealed by the fake expression, which leaks out in a flash, e.g., murderers often mask sadness. The most important and dangerous masked expression that we need to look out for is CONTEMPT, i.e., thinking oneself as being superior to others; regarding others with scorn. The masked expression of contempt is marked by one lip corner pulled up and in, e.g., Dick Cheney.

    Dick Cheney contemptAn even more obvious sign of contempt is surreptitiously and slyly giving people the F-you middle finger, as in this:

Obama gives America the finger
Other indicators of deception:

  • Liars shift their eye-blink rate.
  • Liars point their feet toward an exit.
  • Liars put barrier objects between themselves and the person interviewing or conversing with them.
  • Liars alter their vocal tone, often going much lower.

How to Spot a Truth-Teller: What the Truth Looks like

1. Liars: Meyer used a video of Diane Downs — a murderous mother who lied about shooting her kids at close range — and points to the discrepancy between Downs’ cool demeanor and a great tragedy. Even more telling is Downs’ creepy smile after talking about her children’s death — Duping Delight.
2. Truth-tellers: Meyer then contrasts the video of the lying mother with a video of Ellen Runnion — a grieving mother confronting her daughter’s murderer-torturer in court. Runnion showed no false emotion, but only the authentic raw emotion of a mother in agony.
Does this remind you of all the videos of the Sandy Hook parents whose children supposedly were killed by alleged mass murderer Adam Lanza? See: 

See also “Lies are a hallmark of evil.
~Eowyn

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0 responses to “How to Spot a Liar

  1. Easy way to tell if the alleged president is lying-His mouth moves. His inclination to lie is so prolific I don’t believe anything he says anymore. Awesome track record for a national figure of what passes for authority,huh?

     
  2. This post deserves ten stars at least. Every time I see that “Robby Parker” I nearly want to throw up. How can these “actors” live with themselves? Since his daughter is obviously alive, he should be charged with something and convicted. He is a lyin’ sack of . . . I am left wondering, what in the world did the various interviewers think when none of these supposed grieving parents showed any real grief–they were all smiles, and so very, very well composed. I guess that just shows what bone heads they really are. It frosts me that they feel so confident in their professional selves that they can seemingly put something of this magnitude over on the American people.

     
    • I agree, as this post is so excellent! Thank you Dr. Eowyn for this detailed and informative post. Body language is so important as is the pattern and mode of speech. I used to listen to lies on a daily basis for twelve years. Such evil is absolutely exhausting.

       
  3. “We lie once in every 10 interactions with our spouse. The number drops to 3 if you’re unmarried.”
    Duh; the number drops (lying to your spouse) to zero!

     
  4. EXTROVERT! (VS extravert!)

     
  5. Doug, yeah what she said. 🙂

     
  6. Yikes! Good article, Dr. Eowyn!

     
  7. Dennis H Bennett

    I’m ordering the book! Great post…body language and its interpretation is a lost art.

     
  8. The Bard covered Clinton-type lying centuries ago: ” . . . doth protest too much, methinks.” This also covered Nixon-type lying:
    “I’m not a crook.” After that, most people realized that Tricky Dick really was a crook.

     
  9. Slick Willie lyin’ like a rug:

     
  10. I only now discovered this posting, as it went up during my post-operative last year when I spent less time online. Murphy’s Law srikes again?
    If ever there was a naive fool who needed to know this it was surely I, but it’s come too late for me, as I’m flattened financially now. So it goes.
    Anyhow, I VERY quickly discovered who my real friends were [separating the sheep from the goats, perhaps?], and I’ll try to do better in the time ahead.

     
  11. Pingback: Orlando Shooting: How We Know It’s All A Lie | rga

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