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Thread: The truth about lying: It's good for you, trust us

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    The truth about lying: It's good for you, trust us

    Melissa Leong, June 24, 2011

    People lie every day. They lie to each other (“I can’t come in today, I’m sick”). They lie to themselves (“I’m going to start eating healthy tomorrow.”) One researcher found that strangers meeting for the first time will lie three times within 10 minutes.

    Of course, liars are always other people.

    “We say we hate liars,” British author and journalist Ian Leslie points out. “Politicians are liars or my ex-boyfriend is a liar. People say, ‘The only lies I tell are white lies.’ But if you ask them to define what a white lie is, it’s very hard to do. I have been struck by our mixed up relationship with lying.”

    His fascination with the idea led to extensive research for his latest book,

    Born Liars: Why We Can’t Live Without Deceit

    “There’s an equilibrium in human society where it makes sense for us to tell the truth most of the time because we if we didn’t, we couldn’t cooperate and we couldn’t get anything done. But it also makes sense for us to lie now and again. We just have to accept that.”

    Leslie spoke to Melissa Leong about misconceptions — or lies we tell ourselves — about deception.

    Misconception #1: We should be angry when our three-year-old lies.

    In the first years, children do not understand that what is in their mind, is not in everyone else’s (they can’t conceive of you not enjoying a marathon of Toopy and Binoo).

    So, if you’re little one knocks over a lamp and tells you with a straight-face that the wind must have blown it over, you should be impressed.

    “If you talk to anyone who studies children and lying, they’ll say: ‘It’s an amazingly hard thing to do. It’s a tribute to the intelligence and creativity of a child to conceive of an alternative version of reality. They need the empathy to think about what others are thinking and feeling to come up with a good lie and then they need to be able to deliver it. They’re writers and performers of their own work.” Hey, like a George Clooney or Tom Hanks.

    Misconception #2: Lying is a perversion of nature, a character flaw that needs to be resolved.

    Many species practice deception to survive. As examples, Leslie cites the Eastern Hognose snake which will fake its own death when threatened or the female plover which will lead intruders away from her young by flying off and faking an injured wing.

    Primates deceive cleverly and often; researchers found that the more deceptive the apes, the bigger the brains. The bigger the brain, the bigger our social network. Anthropologist Robin Dunbar was able to predict the group size of a species by the size of its neo-cortex (human beings should be able to cope with a social group of 150, he said… This was of course, before Facebook).

    “The Machiavellian theory of intelligence says that we didn’t evolve our bigger brains in a battle with nature… We had to get smart because we had to deal with the challenges of social life,” Leslie says. “We have bigger groups and therefore more competition for resources. The more you [compete], the more you have to work out who else is trying to trick you.”

    Basically, we owe our intelligence to deceit.

    “When we get better at deception, we get better at detecting deception. And it gets us better at understanding other human beings which requires a huge amount of mental fire power.”

    Misconception #3: You know how to spot a liar.

    “I thought along, with everyone else, that you could tell when someone is lying because they’re shifty and they fidget and their eyes move away from your face,” Leslie says. “But when you talk to people who have studied it, none of those things are true. Good liars look you straight in the eye and they tend to be very articulate. They have their stories thought through with a lot of details. It’s the opposite of the liars stereotype which is why they get away it.”

    So to catch a liar, investigators might want to try something other browbeating a suspect in a small room under an intense lightbulb.

    “You make them shut up and go into their shell. The better thing to do is to get liars to talk. If they’re lying, they’re putting themselves under a lot of cognitive and emotional strain. The more strain they are under, the more likely they’re are going to screw up and give themselves away.”

    Misconception #4: Self-deception is more harmful than good.

    “Study after study shows that most people think they are a little bit better looking and a little bit funnier, a little bit more moral than they are,” Leslie says. “There are these statistics that say 70% of drivers think they are above average drivers.”

    However, Leslie refers to several studies in his book that reveal that there is a link between self-deception and over-achievement. (Sports coaches call is “championship thinking,” he writes.)

    Positive illusions, he says, quoting psychologist Shelley Taylor are “the fuel that drives creativity, motivation and high aspirations.”

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  3. #2
    Ya I guess the left thinks it is ok to lie about Trump every day to promote socialism.
    "He's talkin' to his gut like it's a person!!" -me
    "dumpster diving isn't professional." - angelatc

    "Each of us must choose which course of action we should take: education, conventional political action, or even peaceful civil disobedience to bring about necessary changes. But let it not be said that we did nothing." - Ron Paul

    "Paul said "the wave of the future" is a coalition of anti-authoritarian progressive Democrats and libertarian Republicans in Congress opposed to domestic surveillance, opposed to starting new wars and in favor of ending the so-called War on Drugs."

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