Welcome to today’s guest blogger, Susanna Janssen!
Susanna Janssen is a foreign language educator and newspaper columnist on everything about words, language, and culture. In her life as a writer, speaker, and teacher, she is dedicated to contributing to the linguistic culture of America and advocating for learning a foreign language at any age. To learn more about Susanna and her programs, visit http://www.susannajanssen.com
See Susanna on Dr. Veronica’s Wellness Revolution video podcast here.
Pants on Fire
Big and fat or teeny and white, researchers say that a lie comes at us up to two hundred times a day. That seems impossible until we consider a few likely sources: dating profiles (reports say 90% contain a lie), resumes (estimated at 40%), family/friends (average 75%), product hype vs. wrinkles and hair loss (this author’s estimate: 90%), and presidential candidate debates (your turn).
In a study by the University of Massachusetts, during ten minutes of conversation 60% of adults lied on average three times. But we are among the honest 40%, right? The 60% thought they were, too, and didn’t believe the outcome until they listened to the playback. Most lies are fibs we tell to appear smart, witty, and worthy. We want to be liked, deflect a social obligation, or not hurt someone’s feelings. Lying is a skill most people discovered around age four, honed through childhood, and practiced avidly in the teen years. As adults, the patterns are pretty well set.
Everyone knows the body language that might flag a liar: no eye contact, touching the mouth or throat, shuffling feet, excessive fidgeting, and so on. What follows is the “Dirty (Baker’s) Dozen” of verbal clues that might indicate someone is lying:
Question: “Did you go to Taylor’s Tavern after work?
- Stalling tactics like “Huh?”, “What?”, and “Well…”, are designed to buy time to construct a believable answer.
- Repetition is another way of buying time. Question is repeated in full: “Did I go to Taylor’s Tavern after work?”
- Another form of repetition is all the words of the question included in the answer: “No, I did not go to Taylor’s Tavern after work.”
- Beware of assertions of truth like “To be perfectly honest”, “You listen to me”, and “I swear.”
- A common red flag is avoiding contractions. Notice “did not” instead of “didn’t” in #3.
6. Retort question: Teacher: “Did you lift that term paper from an online source?” Response: “What do you mean?” (aggressive, innocent, or confused tone), intended to throw you off and, again, stall for time.
7. Generalizations: “What happened to our date??” Reply: “We got hung up in a bunch of crazy stuff.” Neither “hung up” nor “a bunch of crazy stuff” says anything about what happened.
8. In #7, notice We. A liar tries to create distance by avoiding I/me/, and instead using plurals we/us/. Saying the instead of my, or that instead of this also creates distance: “I have no idea how that jewelry got into the purse.”
9. Short answer with no detail: Jiltee asks, “Why don’t you ever call me?” Jilter’s reply, “It’s complicated.”
10. Or the opposite: Long rambling blah-blah that doesn’t answer the question.
11. Statements in monotone.
12. Overemphasis of words.
13. Speaker abruptly ends the communication. Notice the clues in this classic example from 1998 (“Bill Clinton Lied about Monica Lewinsky”):
I want you to listen to me (4). I’m going to say this again (12): I—did not (5)—have—sexual—relations—with—that (8)—woman (11, 12), Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time, never (4, 12). These allegations are false (4), and I need to go back to work for the American people. (13) (He abruptly exits.)
Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking site, PolitiFact.com awarded Donald Trump its infamous “Liar of the Year” label for 2015. The fact-checkers determined that 76% of his official statements fell into the categories Mostly False, False, or Pants on Fire. In June of 2016, Politifact revealed that only 23% of his claims made during the first half of the campaign year were True, Mostly True, or Half True; 58% were False or Mostly False and a whopping 18% were Pants on Fire!
According to the fact-checkers, none of Hillary Clinton’s pants have gone up in flames, though they have identified a list of False claims.
Most people are basically well-intentioned and honest, but it can be useful to know what to listen for when we suspect someone might be lying. One might optimistically wager that the researchers’ finding of two hundred lies per day will decrease appreciably in a non-election year.
Dr. Veronica Anderson is an MD, Functional Medicine practitioner, Homeopath. and Medical Intuitive. As a national speaker and designer of the Functional Fix and Rejuvenation Journey programs, she helps people who feel like their doctors have failed them. She advocates science-based natural, holistic, and complementary treatments to address the root cause of disease. Dr. Veronica is a highly-sought guest on national television and syndicated radio and hosts her own radio show, Wellness for the REAL World, on FOX Sports 920 AM “the Jersey” on Mondays at 7:00 pm ET.
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