A reader sent me this interesting and relatively short Ted video about how to spot a liar.
She mentions two "rules":
1. Lying takes two -- person who lies and person who chooses to believe the lie. "Everyone is willing to give you something for whatever it is you're hungry for. If you don't want to be deceived, you have to know what it is that you are hungry for." Lying fills in the gap between our wishes and our fantasies.
2. We're against lying, but we're covertly for it. It has evolutionary value to it. Babies will fake a cry. Trained lie spotters get to the truth 90% of the time, everyone else 54%.
There was an interesting discussion halfway through about how an honest person vs. a dishonest person would deal with being confronted. This one was interesting, if anything, in learning how to lie better. Falsely accused people are furious throughout the interview, not peppered here and there was a rational detailing of events.
Lying is an interesting thing to me. I don't really think about it that often. I don't think of people as liars or truth tellers. I don't even generally think of things I have said as lies or truth. I think it's probably because I have a deeply relativistic sense of the truth. I understand more than most people perhaps that everyone has their own different reality, including me. I don't think most of the "lies" we hear or say from day to day are intentional, but just reflect the "liars" distorted view of the world. I understand that for the most part, it is difficult if not impossible to determine an objective Reality in any given circumstance so I take everything with a grain of salt. Or I take it on faith perhaps, but always with a healthy dose of doubt that will trigger when new information becomes available to me, in a Bayesian updating sort of way. I assign a likelihood of accuracy in my mind, like whether my parents are actually my parents is 98% likely to be true, based on what I know about them and me. Or sometimes a long story someone has told me is 80% true, true in some parts and not true in others and it isn't exactly clear which is which. I am sometimes (often?) wrong in my assessments. And it is true that sometimes people are intentionally But when someone has gamed me, I'm often delightedly surprised that they have managed to do it. It makes life more interesting to think that anyone could be trying to trick you at any moment, but most of the time it's not true or the stakes are so low that it just seems like the sort of toll we have to pay to live in a world of collective delusion.
Which is not to say that we shouldn't learn people's tells, because we can learn so much about a person from the way they see the world, whether they are aware of their deceit or not.