Saturday, February 25, 2012

How to detect when someone is lying

Everybody has some ability to detect whether people are lying or not, though some of us are better at it than others. Psychologist Paul Ekman has developed a tool that he believes will improve that ability for everyone. Ekman is a leading authority on reading microexpressions (unconscious facial expressions that in a split second can reveal the owner's true thoughts) to detect lies. His work has been dramatized by the American Television show Lie to Me. I haven't had the time to use the microexpression training tool, but apparently it takes only an hour. It's available at www.PaulEkman.com.

I think the ability to read microexpressions would be more useful against empaths than sociopaths. Why? Because sociopaths have a less rigid sense of self, they are able to actually believe their own lies much better than empaths are. For instance, I am able to compartmentalize quite well -- just like the protagonist in the movie Memento, I'm able to tell myself lies that I can actually believe. Once I believe a lie, any microexpressions seen on my face would seem to support the lie, not undercut it. Empaths, on the other hand, seem to need a stricter sense of identity. Although I'm sure they unconsciously lie to themselves all the time and microexpressions wouldn't be able to detect those lies, they seem much less able to consciously lie to themselves to the point of believing the truth. In those situations, the ability to read microexpressions would be a very useful tool against a lying empath.

86 comments:

  1. i find that article interesting, im not a reader of sociopath books. I haven't even read one. Don't own one. My only child was diagnosed with a neurological disorder( a wide spectrum that only time will reveal the extent of the disorder) There are certain behavoiurs that will be difficult for my child to relate to, for example, the concept of being fair. My baby cried like you wouldn't believe!!! I swear to God it was torture, it could go on all day all night for days on end.( And it wasn't colic.) Those who knew me distanced themselves to the point of non existance. Doesn't bother me though the way it probably should. Anyway my way of coping was to nurture, nurture and nurture the best way i was able to. So id read lots of books on nurture and try to apply them to this "tiny annoying... yet precious object" I learn't a lot about constant skin to skin contact in my experience and lots of eye contact with my infant. We have developed a deep seated bond. Deeper than anything i have ever felt or will ever feel. I know i never want another child, i couldn't re create the special bond we have even if i wanted to, i'd feel like i betrayed my child if i was to have another and im conscience i just couldn't love another child equally to my 1st. I wouldn't want to do that on purpose.
    It was tough in the beginning with my child, times i wanted to give up, and go back to my life as a drifter but i knew what it felt like to be different and i didn't want my infant to have to be a lonely child, like i was, im still lonely in a lot of ways as an adult. My child will face problems with social interactions, i know rejection will be part of that. I prepare myself for whats coming. But my home will always be a place of sanctuary for my child, no judgement or condemning, no name calling or "solitary confinement" as my own mother liked to call punishment. Im aware there is a history than runs through my family, there are things about myself i can't change, but im accepting of the unusual and non conventional. I wasn't quite sure exactly what nurturing was when i first had my child, everytime it kicked i freaked out and felt physically repulsed!!, most women hold there babies, i sort of looked at it and thought ewww how strange, that has been growing inside me?? And told the midwife to put it in the cot, It felt like an alien and i thought it un natural im ashamed to admit. All i wanted to do was wash myself. (I got pregnant by accident and was in complete denial, until it was too late to do anything about it) But i was left alone after labour with my infant and curiousity got the better of me. After i showered i heard it crying, So i peered over the cot and just sort of observed it. I thought it looked and moved kind of wierd (im also ashamed to admit).However i thought... im alone... your alone lets stick this out and see what happens hey? So i picked it up and started to breast feed it (i'd read a lot of books in my last trimester lol) It felt surprisingly natural!! I was like thinking ...ok???, its taking this substance i have produced and it's using it, this must be the way it should be?? (to the relief of my swollen breasts lol). I tried my hardest to do things differently to what i remembered as a child, for everything i remembered i do the opposite so as not to f##k the little things head up later on in life. My child is percieved as "difficult" by others, i call it "character". My child has taught me a lot about me. Almost saved me from myself. But i don't want my child to grow up with my "head mess" (even though im bound to get it wrong),im extremely aware of that if nothing else.

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  2. this was meant for the article above about (are sociopaths made?) lol,

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  3. I am 15 years old and i believe i am a sociopath. When i tell lies, i feel like i am recalling a memory instead of making something up. I have had a past of starting fires, being impulsive, and compulsive lying. I am able to look people right in the eye when i lie to them and i sometimes lie for fun or to see if i can get away with it. I hardly ever tell the whole truth, and i frequently throw in details that arent true. When i get in trouble at school i am always able to talk my way out of it because i am a convincing liar. When talking to the principal i can make up stories and blame others without hesitating, looking away, or thinking ahead of time. I feel i am a minor sociopath because i have sociopathic qualitys and for me lying is as easy as recalling a memory or telling the truth. I never truely believe the lies i tell, but i find myself temporarly convincing myself it is the truth. I am aware when i am lying, but it is not any different than telling the truth

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. And I see this place is still dry. Tsk Tsk

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    3. Yeah, well, I love the way it started. "I am 15 and I believe that I am sociopath". Lol.

      Ok. Could've just as well been: "I am 15 and I believe that I am an unicorn".

      Plus the whole story is nothing but "I can lie, I can lie, I can lie, I can lie" over and over again.

      I am curious about where this is going.

      It's funny. Hehe

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    4. Yeah sure you might be a sociopath but if you don't learn to think ahead all of that talent is going to go to waste. Lies are awesome tools for everyday life and you can do almost anything with a good lie but restricting yourself to getting out of bad situation instead of getting yourself into a good situation is just stupid.

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    5. Long story short is you're most likely not. A sociopath wouldn't a second thought about the possibility of him being a sociopath so you're safe.

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    6. Wow so hardcore

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  4. LieToMe, Season 2, Episode 11. Best episode of the series.

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    1. Yeah those bloody psychopaths always go way overboard. I can't see why people actually think psychopaths are related to us(Sociopaths).

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  5. I've got most of Ekman's work (microexpression training tools, included) in digital format along with some in printed form. I agree at least with your suggestion of usefulness against lying empaths, though I would not assert your own immunity without some testing. The parts of the brain from which they arise are very deep, very primal parts. It's helpful to think of interaction (on a very basic level) as a tripartite model (though keep in mind this is no longer a professionally used model, but a convenience):

    1. Most noticeably, the higher brain functions (some authors call this system the "primate brain"). Speech, rational thought, and all the lying and ambiguity, intentional and otherwise, that follows. This is the domain most comfortable and, in most cases, most believable for most people. It is very easy to overlook nonverbal cues (or to purposely obfuscate them) when speech is involved. The written word is perhaps even more exploitable.

    2. The next major part comprises more animalistic responses. Not quite the primal fight or flight, but the sort of responses which govern and characterize pack behavior (hence the occasional term "mammalian brain" for this system). This is where facial expressions and most nonverbal cues above the neck, so to speak, originate. An interesting quality here is self-reinforcement. The brain, odd thing that it is, checks with the face to decide how you feel. Smiling can actually make people feel better because the brain thinks they're happy, so they are. Let it never be said Botox didn't produce some interesting results.

    The main thing, though, is that because these expressions are universal and not tied explicitly to reasoning, it can be quite difficult to suppress them. With practice or intentional affectation, it is possible to mask them effectively; full suppression requires rather more effort, generally. Masking techniques are useful against the inattentive and the uninformed, but a competent observer can spot the intentional shift without difficulty. It's a very fun topic, and one that I think more people should learn about, at least cursorily.

    3. The oldest system of the brain (occasionally, the "lizard brain") is the be-all end-all of unfiltered information. These are the deep instincts, the ones common to most vertebrates: fight-or-flight, survival and procreation urges, and matters of territory. Here the wider body language rules. Unspoken nuances of spacing, social territory, and other base concerns are obvious and nearly uncontrollable here, but they are the generally given the least weight in personal interactions.

    As an example, during your next conversation (or, especially, a meeting of some kind), observe the legs and feet of the others. What conclusions can you draw? Think about the gross movements used by athletes and what they signify, and note any similarities. For example, rising to the balls of one's feet, even sitting, can indicate a desire to leave, especially if they point conspicuously to the nearest available exit. These are unconscious, almost totally unnoticed elements of everyday life, and so they are the least protected by the vast majority. The amount that people give away with their posture, their stride, and so on is thrilling.

    Very broad strokes, but something to ruminate on. Do let me know if you have any interest in the books and such.

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    1. Themes for SW RegularsFebruary 25, 2012 at 9:58 AM

      Beautiful Zoe xx

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    2. she has a beautiful voice.

      did you already do a theme song for M.E., themes?

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    3. i mean had a beautiful voice

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    4. She does. Why "had" ?

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    5. Oh I see. I just googled. That's fucked up.

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    6. ooh that's nice! i probably missed it when you first posted it. maybe M.E. deserves a soundtrack?

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    7. Themes for SW RegularsFebruary 25, 2012 at 6:11 PM

      Yes ME does, to put up with us.

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  7. M.E. write...
    In those situations, the ability to read micro expressions would be a very useful tool against a lying empath.


    i've noticed micro expressions on people i've worked with over the years who could have been either sociopaths or narcissists, depending on the definitions. i wonder if the presence of these might indicate the person is a narcissist rather than sociopath? maybe one way to distinguish the two? assuming of course that all sociopaths can hide them.

    a thought... if you can observe micro expressions in others, you can probably hide or mask your own. does any agree or disagree, or have comments? i've always assumed everyone could read them. does anyone hear not know what they are?

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    1. If I want to mask, sometimes I play dumb by looking as if I'm thinking. I will maybe slightly furrow my brow and look up and diagonally to two o'clock.

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    2. i do the first part too! instead of diagonally i look right at them. and no furrowing or looking to the side. it can be interpreted as a "disconnect". or actually i do furrow and look away when i want to buy time.. when i need to think or want the other person to think i'm thinking. or just when i want them to stop talking.

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    3. Oh haha. When I do that dead on blank stare people think I'm flakey, which suits me fine if I want them to think I'm dumb.

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    4. lol that can be useful :)

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    5. If that's your strategy, you're a terrible liar.

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    6. I've never said I'm doing it to lie. I'm doing it to mask reacting in my face the way my brain is talking to me, and there is a difference.

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    7. I would rather a person not think I am on to them, and I would rather a person think I have spaced out and forgotten their request or whatever it is they want from me. Try it sometimes. It's pretty effective.

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    8. I would rather a person not think I am on to them

      exactly

      anyway the same strategy doesn't work on everyone. some people are uncomfortable with eye contact so looking away here and there while you're thinking makes sense and can even look like you're focused on what they are saying. the ones who fix you with the eyeball death lock are the toughest. it's disconcerting. every time you look away it's as if you're evading them and being deceitful. if you meet the stare, it feels robotic. i've noticed that with I.T. types.

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    9. Eye contact isn't that difficult, really. Normal conversations have periodic eye contact to reaffirm each party's involvement, but most of a conversation will not have much in the way of direct eye contact. Popular wisdom would have you believe that lack of eye contact indicates lying, but it's nearly the opposite. Amateurs stare. They want to see that you believe them.

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    10. "Amateurs stare. They want to see that you believe them"

      lol so that's what that is

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    11. Well my strategy is just to lie to them. Its easy so you don't really need a strategy anyways and its not like its wrong to lie in the first place so why should there be any guilt on your face in the first place? and its easy as long you don't care about the lie or if its true or not. Oh and you have to make it believable its easiest when your just changing original truth a little to fit your purposes.

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  8. Deception and lie detection are games that are meant to be enjoyed as far as I'm concerned. Pulling a fast one or seeing through someone's BS always merit some level of satisfaction, if not pity or disgust, either way you're feeling better about yourself.

    Most people aren't very skilled at detecting lies, even those who are trained to. There's a lot of different levels to process conversation to deduce truth from lies. For me, personally, hearing someone is the best way. Just hearing, not seeing. The phone, or Skype, whatever method. You can force body language and facial expressions, but tone shifts and nervousness are hard to mask.

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    1. for me it's seeing someone. Just hearing them doesn't give me the complete picture. seeing them, you can see more contradictions. the phone can work for or against you depending on what you have to hide i guess.

      and related to nothing...i am getting a migraine :(

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    2. there is actually a syndrome where a person can be in a coma and unable to respond to people who are in the room with them, even if the people are talking to them. somehow the damaged visual signals interfere or override what is being heard.

      yet these same comatose patients are completely aware and able to talk to others on the telephone. apparently the brain processes communication over the telephone through separate pathways (kinda weird from an evolutionary perspective since the telephone was invented relatively recently). so there are these entirely separate pathways for inputting information.

      anyway, it's possible that your ability to process information heard over the telephone is more efficient than mine. i really need that visual input to get the whole picture about a person. though i LOVE talking on the phone.

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    3. apparently the brain processes communication over the telephone through separate pathways (kinda weird from an evolutionary perspective since the telephone was invented relatively recently).

      Interesting.

      The Japanese - for some words - have different terms for the same meaning depending on whether on the phone or in person.. e.g the word for 'hello' is different over the phone than when meeting someone face to face.

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    4. that's interesting... the Japanese are smart. you would think talking to someone is talking to them, phone or in person, but the interaction, the experience of it, is different. my telephone brain is wittier, though not as astute at reading others.

      you can read about the "telephone syndrome" in the Tell-Tale Brain by Ramachandran, or google some of it. i didn't do it justice really.

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    5. Well the easiest way for me to deduce truth from lies is just thinking over the lie and finding inconsistencies in their story and then asking myself if lying would benefit the person in question. Also most people aren't that good at lying because there's always a twitch in their voice or expressions and the people that think lying is wrong are doomed from the start.

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    6. People who know about that twitch in their own voice will resort to silence because they know they're shitty liars.

      If all of a sudden their personality changes from talkative to silent-type, that can be a tell.

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  9. For example, rising to the balls of one's feet, even sitting, can indicate a desire to leave, especially if they point conspicuously to the nearest available exit. These are unconscious, almost totally unnoticed elements of everyday life, and so they are the least protected by the vast majority. The amount that people give away with their posture, their stride, and so on is thrilling.

    YES. Sometimes I can tell when a person wants to leave before they really have made the decision to leave. I've voiced my guess to them. They want to be polite, maybe and they say: "no no it's fine" or whatever. But 2 minutes later they're deciding yes that is what they wanted in the first place. I'm either making things very easy for them, or Idk maybe I'm making them feel uncomfortable about reading their cue. I never thought about it. Now I'm thinking this must be why people will assume I'm very considerate. No, it isn't that at all lol. I don't want to waste my time with someone who wants to leave. -How uncomfortable is that?

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  10. some people don't pick up on body language. i used to work with a guy who didn't know how to end a conversation. the only way out was to walk a way. he would just keep talking. at some point you could no longer hear and see him. i imagine he stopped then.

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    1. LOL I can't stand that. I will start shuffling papers, even turn my back on a person, and they don't get it. I hate having to say 'now I've got things to do and you're keeping me. But people will respect you if you say things nicely. I think I'm sensitive and so I assume everyone else would be. That's just silly.

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    2. oops have to go. i was on my way to the washroom, for a coffee break, meeting with my bank. sorry about that!!

      ha

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    3. the coffee excuse is risky. sometimes they join you :(

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    4. Just take over the conversation for a couple of seconds and then say "see you later" before he/she has a chance to respond

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  11. Well well, isn't it interesting what some people will reveal about themselves in casual conversation.

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  12. Has anyone ever lied and then thought the other person detected it? What has anyone done about it?

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    1. I caught a friends micro expression recently (it was a smile during a serious conversation). I called him on it, and he seemed shocked that I picked up on it. He said one of the reasons he had facial hair was to make his face harder to read.

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    2. usually nothing.

      or i make up something stupid and "come clean". i've been confronted about "micro expressions" the other person mis-interprets. people think everything relates back to them. my face and eyes are expressive. if i'm distracted and pensive it can show if i make no effort to hide it. those aren't actually micro expressions, yet it amazes me how some people will confront you, with smug confidence over what they think they saw, and expect an explanation. or rather, a confirmation. a denial is not an option, as they know they saw something, and feel entitled to it. it's crass. it's like asking about someone's limp. it's the weapon of a bully trying to get under your skin, or the bar drunk with his beer spittle, trying to get up your skirt.

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    3. I agree. I'm thinking what the fuck do you care so much about my inner life that you feel the need to tell me bout it. i have a friend who does it like he's showing off. I want to smash him. I play dumb, once again, because an indication i think he's an asshole will only make him try to get under my skin more, i like his gf, and he's part of a social group I don't want thinking I'm a hothead or something. He'd undoubtedly put that out there. ( He was diagnosed NPD as a youngster, BTW.)

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    4. i've had limited success with playing dumb, deflecting and denial. such tactics are rejections and delay tactics, and seem to encourage the really persistent ones. it doesn't stop them from knocking on your door again later.

      so i let them in. and i act AMAZED at how good they are at figuring me out, and i confirm their assessments of me or whatever. round eyed eye contact is key here. i make them think that their intellect has just TAKEN MY BREATH AWAY. and turn it around and get them talking all about their amazing selves.

      after that we're like best friends. they think they're this great person when they are around you. and maintaining that is way more interesting to them than whatever is going on in your head. particularly if they're narcissists. you still may have to feed them now and then, but if they see some broody expression on your face and ask about it they will probably cut you off mid-sentence if you go into lengthy explanations. so little feedings are key.

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    5. Yes, I've done that too. I'll generously tell a narcissist they're very astute, blah blah or whatever it is they're after. Then I can't get rid of them because their ego has been stroked. Sometimes I get into all sorts of weird entanglements this way. It can be a big waste of energy. I've been thinking I should just stop it. But you're right I do get benefits. ..I get invites to things, I get introduced to people. I like the way you think, Zoe. I really should be cashing in way better. Thanks.

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    6. i like the way you think too. you're right it can totally backfire.

      playing dumb or being unresponsive is my first choice if i'm not going to see them much but you can't get away from most people, family, neighbours, co-workers etc. so i keep a special guest room for some when they come knocking, a mental mud room. :)

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    7. Huh. Thanks. That's good imagery.

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    8. Hey!! there's nothing wrong with being a little narcissistic as long as you don't let it cloud your judgement. Narcissism is huge part of my personality and in my mind I will always be nr.1 but I don't wear on my sleeve like the stupid ones. I am a narcissistic sociopath sure but I'm not stupid enough to piss other people off with it unless pissing them off would yield a considerable profit.

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    9. LoL ololololol!

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    10. Cartman is the only "narcissistic sociopath" I've seen here.

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  13. Often when I am telling the truth about something, I give fake facial expressions and hold them until the other person notices, and show signs that they "know" I am lying. It's amusing, the only time I tell the truth, is the only time I'm not believed.

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    1. That's pathetic.

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    2. okay so i just have to ask...

      you imply that they believe you when you're lying. but if you're believed to be lying even some of the time, you lose credibility. are you so sure that the only time you tell the truth is the only time you're not believed? your approach seems hostile, an act of anger that won't serve you well. but i suppose it could be useful if you have some big lies to keep and want everyone to think you're a terrible liar. :)

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    3. yeah that sounds dumb, like someone trying to be a badass king of lying... maybe though what they are noticing is that you are acting forced and seem weird.... and then you are amused... like a comedy of stupidity

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  14. http://www.itv.com/wales/the-bullseye-killer48779/

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  15. Lying is simple. You just have to pretend what you're saying is true.

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  16. People are a mess of lies.

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  17. No lie, this new commenting scheme sucks.

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    1. it's nice not to have to copy and paste comments you're replying to

      oh and hi aspie. :)

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  18. No offense or anything but this is kind of a stupid sentence:

    "I think the ability to read microexpressions would be more useful against empaths than sociopaths."

    No, like duh, the ability to read "microexpressions" would be more useful against sociopaths esp. since they are known as "people of the lie" and feature lying as a major part of their personality.

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    1. Microexpressions aren't a sign of a lie, they are a sign of a concealed emotion.

      The main difficulty in spotting a lie in a sociopath of course stems from their utter lack of guilt. Most people on some level feel guilty about the big lies they tell, and that leaks through in their behaviours.

      No guilt means the only emotions they can have are fear of being caught (and tremendous arrogance will stop that) and joy at getting away with the lie. There is just less going on in their heads emotionally and that makes things a bit more difficult.

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  19. This is how I imagine it. Empaths use to wear the same personality all the time, when they lie, they try wearing a personality over the original, and just like clothes, if you put two t-shirts you can see the one below or at least you notice bumps. Empaths also think they are their clothes, so if something rip them they fall in despair and need several patches.
    The sociopath knows he is not his clothes, if he wants to lie he just switch clothes, he doesn't stack them, so is unnoticeable. He also doesn't care about ripping someone's clothes because they are not important.

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  20. Actually, to someone very perceptive, who knows the sociopath well, they can detect those lies.

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  21. I like to think I'm pretty good at telling when someone is lying - can you tell in this video?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bjRnVelczk&feature=youtu.be

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