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Let’s Be Honest About Lying

    Humans are lied to as much as 200 times a day. Social psychologist Jerald Jellison of the University of Southern California published this figure in his 1977 book, “I’m Sorry, I Didn’t Mean To, and Other Lies We Love To Tell.” This hard-to-believe figure, which includes the many so-called “innocent white lies” we hear each day, was given further credence in a 2002 study by Robert Feldman of the University of Massachusetts, who found that on average, people told two to three lies in a ten-minute conversation.

    In the final analysis, there are two main types of people in this world – people of the lie and people of the truth. People of the lie are all trying to accomplish the same thing with their lies – to avoid, distort, or negate the truth in order to benefit themselves in some way. So lies are actually anti-truth with motive.

    Knowing the types of lies that people of the lie tell, helps in the quest of getting at the truth, as well as figuring out the motive behind the lies. Generally, the more deceptive a person of the lie (from casual liar all the way up to chronic liar) the more they will have honed their skills in the main methods of lying listed below: 

    Error—a lie by mistake. The person believes they are being truthful—but what they are saying is not true—generally because they have not bothered to check their facts. The end result is the same as an outright lie however, in as much as other people end up being deceived, because incorrect information is being passed on to them.

    Minimisation—reducing the effects of a mistake, a fault, or a decision to make it seem as though nothing wrong has been done. 

    Omission—leaving out relevant information, knowing that doing so, will have a benefit of some kind. This is easier and less risky that an outright lie, as it doesn’t involve inventing any stories. It is a passive form of deception and less pressure is felt by the person doing it.

    Contextual—similar to Omission above, though this involves taking a solitary fact out of a whole truth and then presenting it as the whole truth, minus it’s defining context. This is done knowing full well that it will directly benefit the person doing the lying…or disadvantage the person being lied against.

    Denial—refusing to acknowledge a truth. The extent of denial can vary from small to quite large…so they may only be lying to you just this once…or they may be lying to themselves all the time—in effect living a lie—and constantly deceiving others as a result. 

    Restructuring—distorting the context or altering the scene in some way, like changing the characters, times or sequence of events to distort the truth and support the lie. Even when the liar is saying something in sarcasm, it can involve heavy restructuring: ‘Yeah, I ate all the chocolates, as if!’

    Exaggeration—representing themselves as greater, better, more experienced or successful than they really are.

    Fabrication—a fabrication is a lie told when someone submits a statement as truth, in effect deliberately inventing a false story. They are quite often very elaborate, in order to make them sound more like a true story, though the fabricator generally catches themselves out with contradicting details that show the fabrication up for what it is.

    Premeditation—takes two forms: 1. Making up alibis prior to setting out on the lie, bolstering it in case they are questioned. This way, they can cite someone or something else as an authority, in a bid to lend further credibility to the lie. 2. Laying down subterfuge prior to setting out on the lie, saying the opposite of what they really want to achieve, so that they can appear truthful if caught out, e.g. ‘I always said the opposite to what you are accusing me of, just ask anyone …and besides, I don’t actually need the money, so why would I lie.’

    Fraud—refers to the act of inducing another person or other people to believe a lie in order to secure material or financial gain for the liar. Fraud subjects the liar to criminal and/or civil penalties.

    Perjury—the act of lying or making false statements whilst under oath in a court of law, or in any sworn statements made in writing. Perjury is a crime and also subjects the liar to criminal and/or civil penalties.

    In truth, we are all born with the ability to lie—and parents find that they really don’t have to teach their kids to do this—it just comes naturally to them. Of course, if kids grow up unchecked—that is, without any moral training—they become well entrenched people of the lie.

    And these well entrenched people of the lie, hate people of the truth, because their lies are exposed by them. And conversely, people of the truth find it extremely difficult to communicate with people of the lie, because truth is immediately distorted by them. Hence the old saying, “No point arguing truth with people who believe their own lies.”

    This saying is quite apt, as self-deceit goes hand in hand with Denial in the list above. Indeed, there is always a degree of self-deception involved in lying to others—even if it is simply to justify the lying to one’s self. People of the truth have learned to become honest with themselves about their propensity to be self-deceived … and people of the lie quite simply have not. So, in order to be truly honest about lying, you must first learn to be brutally honest with yourself. 

      A problem shared .... is a problem halved ... and a problem shared with the right person ... is a problem solved!

      Steven Bailey-Brown

      Human Dynamics Facilitator

      45 Ventnor Avenue, West Perth, WA 6005
      E-mail: steve@problemsonulllved.com.au
      Mobile: 0403 969 527