There are literally hundreds (no exaggeration, I promise) of words for lying and many different ways to do it.
You can concoct a story, adulterate the truth, fabricate a tale, fib, forge, prevaricate and create a falsehood or fallacy.
In fact, lying is actually a science – pseudology.
THE TRUTH ABOUT LIES
There are lies of omission.
It was years before my husband realised that standing in high heeled shoes, waiting in a tiny, smoky room for some obscure band to appear in the early hours of the morning was actually not my idea of the perfect night out and the smile on my face was actually a grimace of pain from those shoes.
I’m surprised it took him so long. My track record for successful lies is pretty grim as I pointed out in The Honest Truth, Would I Lie To You?
There are unintentional lies. I can’t remember how many times the last part of the sentence; “no darling, I promise this won’t hurt’ was cut off by my children’s scream of agony. How can a tiny piece of plastic called a band-aid cause so much pain?
There are the famous ‘white’ lies, designed to protect feelings and fast becoming regarded as a social necessity.
Of course, that makes it really hard to believe anyone when they tell you how fabulous you look and that your Pinocchio nose isn’t really obvious.
However, the truth can be cruel. In the words of William Blake; “A truth that’s told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent”.
Does that mean a lie that is told with good intent erases all others?
How about convenience lies like the good old fashioned sickie? Of course, these were never really convenient for me because I always ended up really sick – I suffer instant karma when it comes to telling lies.
Vanity lies are always interesting.
For instance, if someone asks you your age or weight it seems to me you have three choices; refuse to tell them (lie of omission), give incorrect numbers (whopper) or just let them know you’re old and fat and it’s none of their bloody business.
Mark Twain would say only tell the truth to those who deserve to hear it.
There are the tricky non-verbal lies used in order to avoid trouble.
I know a woman who carries plain plastic shopping bags in her handbag.
She buys wonderful clothing at great shops, removes labels and price tags and shoves the garments in the plain bags so she can tell her husband she bought them at the op shop.
WAYS THAT WE LIE
In fact, if you Google how many types of lies are there, the numbers range from three to eight – I wonder which one of them is lying?
There are white lies, grey lies, black lies, colourful lies (they’re the pretty ones), lies of commission, lies of omission, exaggeration, plagiarism and broken promises.
If every form of deception is considered lying than one could argue that lies are a phenomenon of nature.
After all, the chameleon is extremely deceptive as it changes its colours to suit its environment.
Isn’t proclaiming, albeit non-verbally, that I am the colour of this leaf and therefore, I am a leaf, a lie?
Of course, that puts all those who have undergone cosmetic surgery to enhance their appearance into the bogus bag.
Not to mention all the baldies masquerading as hairy guys and the padded bras promising more than they can deliver.
Then there’s the smallest daily lie every time I put on my make-up to hide wrinkles and other flaws.
There’s no getting away from it, lies have become a huge part of our lives.
LYING IS BIG BUSINESS
That’s a good thing for the inventors of the polygraph machine and other forms of lie detectors.
Lying is big business.
A lot of people make an honest (well, legal) living out of lying.
Spin doctors are actually highly regarded for their quick wits and talents for altering the truth. Clearly, this is not the way I will make my millions.
For years attempts have been made to find a foolproof way to successfully differentiate between truth and deception.
Techniques such as hypnosis, truth serum, voice and even handwriting analysis have all been tried.
Lie researchers claim your nose does actually grow when you lie as your heart pumps harder and nasal tissues swell with the extra blood.
TECHNOLOGY AND LIES
But it’s technology that is becoming the liar’s greatest enemy.
I know several people who have lied about their whereabouts only to be seen on television at a cricket or rugby match. With security cameras now being mounted in buildings and streets all over the world, your chances of getting caught have increased a hundredfold.
There are also heat-sensitive cameras, which detect lies by measuring tell-tale temperature increases around the eyes. There is another device that measures blood flow to vocal cords, computer programs that can read the subtle changes in facial expressions that mark a liar, even a fib finding telephone.
No machine is needed to see when I’m lying. If guilt doesn’t force me to own up and tell the truth (I’ve been known to dob myself in on many occasions) then there are other giveaway signs; my voice gets higher (apparently a tell-tale sign), my palms get sweaty and I can’t make eye contact.
SO WHY DO PEOPLE LIE?
According to various studies and statistics, 60 per cent of adults cannot have a conversation, especially with someone new to them, without lying at least once in the first 10 minutes.
By the age of four, 90 per cent of kids have learned the concept of lying.
Does that mean when the four-year-old Goddess tells me her mother said she could stay up to midnight and drink red cordial that she is lying? Who’d have thought?
On average we lie about four times a day, that’s 1460 times a year.
I have to warn you when I Googled this information, right there on the same page were links to stories about how statistics are used to lie to us.
According to Brandon Gaille, there are three main reasons we lie; to make ourselves look good, to avoid trouble and to avoid hurting someone else’s feelings.
According to research by Bella DePanto Ph.D., frequent liars can be people who care too much. A study she conducted revealed kind-hearted lies are most likely exchanged by women and the self-serving lies (talking yourself up) by men.
It appears we lie less as we get older. I can attest to this. With my sons all grown now my major reason for having to lie is no longer here.
I have to admit I care a lot less what other people think of me these days too, so my self-serving lies are few and far between – do you believe me?
THE COST OF A LIE
Lies can be extremely hurtful – the husband who lies to his wife about another woman.
They can be costly – literally, billions of dollars are lost through fraud activities each year.
And they can be dangerous – the teen who lies to her parents about where she is so that when she goes missing they have nowhere to start looking for her.
On a large scale consider the effect of the famous 1938 radio show the War of the Wolds, by Orson Wells. His fiction posed as truth resulted in mass hysteria as people believed aliens were invading them.
The science fiction book adaptation, broadcasted as news, resulted in hundreds of Americans arming themselves, hiding in cellars and wrapping wet towels around their heads to protect themselves from Martian gas. People even committed suicide, such was their fear.
“The public will believe anything, so long as it is not founded on truth,” said author Edith Sitwell. Obviously, she hasn’t heard my lies.
However, even knowledge of my own devious ways is not enough to stop me believing stuff I have no right to accept.
For example, the company that claimed its hair removal machine was painless.
The fact that it seemed impossible that a machine that individually rips each hair from your legs could actually not hurt didn’t stop me from spending hundreds to test the theory.
What did my research produce?
Very sore, red legs and that angry feeling you get when you know once again you have been had.
This was nothing compared to the foolishness I felt when the ‘Microsoft” company man convinced me my computer had been hacked and he could fix it if I let him take control.
Yes, I’m shamefully admitting to falling for that old nut. We got our money back but I’m still struggling with my dignity.
It is these kinds of lies that convince me honesty really is the best policy. But don’t take my word for it.
What is your biggest lie? Come on fess up.
Wishing you the truth, lovely lies and a gleeful week, Tamuria.