If I admit I’m a liar from the onset, how much will you continue to read? What if I promise you this piece of writing is absolutely, 100% the truth? I do lie sometimes, but I won’t right now.
Humans usually start lying around age two, and as we get older, the more complicated of a fabrication we can concoct. I won’t go into the psychology of it all, but it’s fascinating and WE ALL DO IT at one point or another in our lives, so we’re all in the Lyin’ Club together, some of us are just gold members.
What makes a good liar?
- Confidence, obviously – creativity helps.
- Positively believe what you’re saying – imperative to the success of deceit.
- A detailed memory – imperative to keep your facts straight if they ever come under scrutiny.
- Only one lie per situation – keep the same one going.
- Never confess to a lie – otherwise future lies will be doubted.
One side effect to consistent lying, is potentially believing the lie yourself. No matter how many people you convince, you must maintain the real truth in your head. Otherwise you risk the living parallel lives – the lie and the truth. Psychologically-damaging lies impact us the most, if we hold onto them, they may slowly eat us up inside – infidelity, secret children, chronic addictions, crimes we committed.
I’ve often stopped to consider the ease with which lying comes to me. I have a relatively strong moral compass so occasionally I think lying engages my flair for the dramatic. In my single days, I loved going to a bar and giving a fake name, spending an entire evening spinning a life story. Men usually don’t want anything beyond the evening, and I indulged in my share of imaginary thrills as well.
My lies have mostly been for banal reasons; to save myself or to get more information. I typically don’t lie to hurt people, but rather to protect myself. My version of biology’s survival of the fittest.
Sometimes I lie about something I’m not entirely positive about, but become insistent upon it. This happens when I’m seeking validation. Yesterday was an example where I lied and felt justified. (Read: positive reinforcement to perpetuate lying.) I engaged in a discussion with a medical professional about pharmaceutical treatment options for a relatively uncommon symptom caused by a common virus. The symptoms, the Internet assured me, would most likely go away themselves within two weeks.
I said to the physician: “I read these symptoms will last about two weeks without any treatment. How long will the symptoms persist if the combination of pills are ingested for a week?”
He answered: “Probably about the same two weeks but everyone has a different reaction, and truly no one knows for sure. They have been shown to lessen the symptoms in some patients.”
I pushed back: “I read online (lie) that this medication is completely bunk and there is no proof it works at all.”
He defended again, this time, his eye tick getting more extreme, sweat forming on his brow, “It’s hard to say; this is the only treatment we have.” He gave us the prescriptions and walked off.
Later my husband and I discussed the medication plan and I admitted fabricating the premature findings. I hadn’t yet conducted my usual thorough research, but suspected the ineffectiveness of the prescribed pills. Scientifically I understood the nature of viruses and conducted preliminary information gathering and created this medical hypothesis declaration (Read: lie). The success of this particular falsification came partially because it turned out to be true.
I’ve witnessed these techniques used effectively in Law & Order episodes. The one cop will accuse a criminal, weaving an entire story and tempting him to correct him, and later the criminal yields into his pressures and admits to the wrong-doing. Later, Cop # 1 says to Partner, “I didn’t know any of it, I made it all up.”
I’ve always felt so guilty being a liar. Today I felt proud to harness my talent to obtain truth. Today I show my gold-member status without shame.