Archive for the ‘Lying’ Category

‘Neurological correlates’ – a blog worth a visit
January 4, 2008

Time to plug a blog readers may or may not yet be familiar with.

Swivelchair at Neurological correlates deals with neuroscience and human behaviour. He translates current psychology/brain research into understandable terms. But more than that, he formulates his own hypotheses. Here is one an intriguing idea:

I’m interested in white matter, which is sort of the neural wiring in the brain, connecting the areas of gray matter. I think that the trouble with disordered thinking may be because of faulty wiring between functional areas of the brain. If this is the case, then that give me hope that it can be fixed — growing new synaptic connections may be a matter of blocking inhibitors or of growing new connections.

In a series of excellent recent posts he considers psychopaths, etc. in the light of possible faulty white matter. Do have a look-see; they warrant reading. Here are a few things that came to my mind.

Do Psychopaths Dream?
January 4, 2008

I noticed that in recovering alcoholics I know, they don’t report dreams, and some have said they don’t dream. And then in suspected psychopaths I know, same thing — lack of dreaming.

If this observation is correct, he suspects a white matter deficiencies. Any feedback from readers would no doubt be appreciated. (more…)

Quick post: Myths about liar’s body language debunked
December 28, 2007

Slowly but surely we’re finding out more about the symptoms of telling lies.

Researchers at Portsmouth University and universities in Italy asked 130 volunteers to make a series of honest and dishonest statements and then evaluated their movements.

Contrary to popular belief, liars fidget less than non-liars. This is because, says Dr Samantha Mann: “People who are lying have to think harder, and when we think harder we tend to be a lot stiller, with fewer movements, because we are concentrating harder.”

Then, studying the behaviour of suspects in police interviews, Mann found that, when lying, participants paused more in their speech and blinked less frequently. Eyes for lies who wrote a guest post here says that the finding of a lack of blinking by liars confirms her experience as a human lie detector.

Debunking another myth, Mann found that liars were just as likely as an honest person to look a questioner in the eye.

Just as some people like ‘Eyes’ are savants at picking lies, one wonders whether some people are liar-savants.

What do you make of this?

For full summary see this article.

Photo of Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the Iraqi information minister nicknamed Comical Ali: ‘Saddam’, originally uploaded by rasch2000

For even as physicists presently assume to their scientific confusion that light is both a particle and a wave, so do devils live in both the lie and the truth, side by side, and both can exist with equal force (Norman Mailer)
December 25, 2007

An internet dating horror story PLUS a video of the perp paramoralising
December 23, 2007

Are you ‘virtually’ sharing your heart with an aged, obese person the opposite sex to what you imagine, perhaps?

We’ve all heard stories about internet relationships that are wrong in one way or another. People say it won’t happen to them, but people say a lot of things.

Do beware!
Wishful thinking will try to turn him or her into what want, but you have no idea. Even if you’ve spoken on the phone. Even if it goes on for a year and a half. 

You’ve been talking into a mirror.
Which could be harmless (actually, not really) but there’s someone behind that mirror. This story by Josh Olsen orginally appeared in LA Weekly:

Anyway, Janna knows this guy named Jesse, and she thinks he and Audrey would get along. She “introduces”them online, and they hit it off. Jesse is an amazing dude, a volunteer fireman, a cowboy, a tortured poet, a man with a past. He has an ex-wife he speaks of fondly, and a son. He lives on a ranch with llamas. He’s got posttraumatic stress disorder from having been in New York on 9/11. He knew some of the firemen who died, or something. An exceptional man. He and Audrey just click, in that special way we all hope can happen someday. (more…)

The truthiness of the paramoralism
December 21, 2007

Copyblogger ends a recent post with: “And that’s the truthiness, the whole truthiness, and nothing but the truthiness“.

Are you familiar with this concept? Popularised by the satirist Stephen Colbert, truthiness is:

-thinking with your heart not your head
-being convinced by perception not facts
-what you want to be true vs what is true.     

Originally truthiness was used to used to satirise President Bush who said in defence of his nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court: “I know her heart”.

(He also said of President Putin: “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul” – something many Russians found hilarious with regard this soulless ex-KGB man.)

Of course this president is not the first politician to be truthy. Nor the best – his predecessor was famous for resorting to empathy is order to convince/be convincing.

Truthiness is about claiming to simply know something.

Colbert’s own definition leads me to connect truthiness to paramoralisms: (more…)

How I specifically detect lies – by ‘a human lie detector’
December 17, 2007

[This guest post is by Eyes for Lies who has a rare ability to discern lies from the truth. After studying deception for several decades, scientists have tested more than 15,000 people and only identified 50 people who can discern lies from the truth with great accuracy. Eyes for Lies is one of these human lie detectors , or “wizards of deception detection”. (Wizards are at least 80% accurate, but no wizard is 100%.) In her blog she applies her skills to current high-profile cases. Her exceptional accuracy is there for all to see.]

How I specifically detect lies

At first, I thought that my decision-making process and determination of a who was lying was all subconscious, because I called a liar within seconds to minutes. But after looking back and forcing myself to think out loud for over a year now, I’ve realized that there are processes that I use to detect a liar that I can consciously recollect. The processes are not set in stone like A, B, C, but rather they are random and only drawn upon when needed.

Regardless, I still process a lot of information within seconds, and I have no explanation for how I do it. I suspect it is due to my innate ability.

Most of the time, it takes me less than three minutes to determine if someone is lying when they are asked direct questions. Sometimes I can spot a liar in 20-30 seconds. However, there are times when it can take up to 10 minutes or longer.

The reason for the delay in making a call is that some liars don’t lie right away, or worse, they are pathological. Pathological liars are the trickiest of people to read, because they are without emotion and without remorse. When someone doesn’t feel remorse, nor display any emotions, I lose 50% of my clues. Furthermore, if a pathological liar is highly intelligent, he won’t mess up his facts, which makes it almost impossible for anyone to catch his falsehoods. It is the pathological liars who are highly intelligent who most often get away with the worst crimes.

According to Dr. Maureen O’Sullivan, who studies lie detection wizards, “There are two categories of clues to a lie: thinking clues and emotional ones.” (Source: Wizards” can spot the signs of a liar, AP, Oct. 14, 2004). (more…)

Myth: Psychopaths are great liars. Part 3 – The nature of lying
December 16, 2007

An argument could be made that psychopaths – notorious for being pathological liars – are constitutionally unable to lie!

I’m going to get off the train just before it gets to that particular stop, but going some way along that line does open a new view on both psychopathy and lying.

I’ve argued that for the psychopath telling the truth and telling lies are equivalencies and that it not so much the psychopath’s intention to deceive as to dominate another.

The psychopath is a pathological liar and so is by definition a pathological truth-teller. It’s one and the same thing to him – a set of devices to enable him to dominate another.

If the psychopath does not tell lies or truths in the same way as a regular person, does it make good sense to say that he’s up to the same thing at all? (more…)

Myth: Psychopaths are great liars. Part 2 – The motives of psychopaths
December 12, 2007

Greenbottle Fly on Venus Fly Trap 3
Originally uploaded by Heeran Rathod

The psychopath does not lie primarily in order to deceive. He or she deceives in order to satisfy a more primary motive. And that is…

But just a quick recap, I’ve argued in the first post in this series of three on psychopaths and lying that:

They’ll say anything – lie or truth. A psychopath will lie through his teeth no problem. However, if telling the truth will attain his goal a psychopath may well do that rather than lie.

In other words, to concentrate on the lies of the psychopath is to miss the fact that for the psychopath his truths play precisely the same role as his lies.

Perhaps this is what ‘pathological lying’ means: not lying a lot, or unnecessarily, or outrageously; but rather that pathological liars lie even when they tell the truth.

Does the psychopath have a mind?
What I mean here comes from Evelyn Waugh who said:

It is better to be narrow-minded than to have no mind, to hold limited and rigid principles than none at all.

Waugh was referring to people who are too tolerant and see ‘good in everything’ – “which in most cases is an inability to distinguish good from bad,” he said. Ironically, what he may have been describing here is the perfect psychopathic victim. Both have a problem with right and wrong.

The over-tolerant person won’t tell right from wrong, and that is important to him or her. (After a while he or she can’t tell right from wrong because of an atrophy of his or her ethical muscles – though these can be built up again.) The psychopath can tell right from wrong, but it’s not important to him. ‘A blatant disregard for the truth’ is the phrase often used.

We might, then,  say that when it comes to morality the psychopath has no mind. The cliché ‘mindless violence’ has some purchase here.

Is it psychopath’s intention to deceive?
This is not quite as silly as it might sound. The psychopath’s primary motive is to dominate: to get what he wants and in the process push you down.

In order to dominate he is more than willing to lie. Or to tell the truth.

Not that regular folks do – or even can – tell the unadorned truth and have no alterior motives. Perhaps that is impossible – speech is always motivated. However, that’s not to say we’re all the same. The thing about the psychopath is that his or her motivation is so singular and single-minded.

Regular folks operate on the priciple of love: that is the sun around which they rotate. The psychopath is powertropic, i.e. his dark sun is power, and this power is power-over.

An example
From LoveFraud:

The con artist’s story may have small inconsistencies or unexplained loose ends. If you ask questions, the con will glibly provide an explanation—which may also not add up. Or, he or she will sidestep the issue by accusing you of paranoia or mistrust.

The psychopathic con artist is willing to deceive to get his way or to accuse you of being crazy. Or tell the truth, or do any number of things.

It is somewhat true to say that it is the intention of the psychopath to deceive. But it is true in a much larger sense to say that it is the intention of the psychopath to dominate, and that one of the many tools he’ll use is the lie.

In the next post I ask whether what the psychopath does even qualifies as lying.

Paramoralism-watch. Lord Black’s ‘expression of regret’
December 11, 2007

Oh dear. Once again current events compel me to interupt my three-part series on psychopaths and lying in order to show what may be precisely what I have been describing at work.

Former media mogul, Lord Conrad Black, 63, has been sentenced to 6.5 years in prison. He was found guilty of one count of obstructing justice and three counts of defrauding shareholders of one-time newspaper publishing giant Hollinger International Inc. The sentence is at the low end of federal guidelines.

Black was also fined $125,000, and ordered to forfeit $6.1m – the amount a pre-trial report said he stole to fund a lavish lifestyle. (Prosecutors put the amount at about $31m.)

According a selection of three news outlets,
here’s what happened at the sentencing.

First RTE News:

Black told the judge before she passed sentence that he wanted to ‘express very profound regret and sadness’ to Hollinger shareholders for the evaporation of $1.85bn in value.

Here’s CTV Canada:

He complimented the judge on her handling of the trial, and said he regretted the loss suffered by Hollinger International shareholders.

How about

“I have never once uttered one disrespectful word about this court, your honour, the jurors or the process.”
He thanked the judge for her openmindedness, considering that he came in with an “almost universal presumption of guilt.”
The former newspaper executive also apologized to shareholders of the defunct Hollinger International newspaper group, the company he was convicted of defrauding.

Respectuful, grateful, apologetic – what more could one ask?

It all sounds quite proper and dignified.
The old boy has behaved well, acknowledged his guilt, and expressed remorse. But let’s look a little more closely at what he actually said. (And then wonder about what the above reporters had stuffed in their ears that stopped them hearing it.) (more…)

Psychopathic deceit in the suicide note of Robert Hawkins
December 8, 2007

What do you make of a 19 year old multiple killer who reminded his landlady of “a lost puppy that nobody wants“?

I interrupt my series of posts on pschopaths and lying to consider a perfect example in the news right now – the Omaha, Nebraska mall-killer Robert Hawkins.

The blogger ‘Against Medical Advice’ writes a post ‘random acts of violence‘, a humane and agonised attempt to come to grips with this event.

A few quotes:

i’m trying to understand what happens in our lives, that a 19-year-old can go from feeling a complete failure to killing himself and others in a crowded mall. i’m trying to remember what i was doing on wednesday at the time robert hawkins walked into the westroads mall in omaha, nebraska and started shooting into a crowd of strangers.

robert hawkins feeling so overwhelmed by emotional pain that he needs to take eight people down with him. what separates robert hawkins from me? is it just luck? could i, one day long ago, have been a robert hawkins? was i ever that desperate, that angry, that uninhibited from the life-saving constrictions of humanity and morality? clearly, no. but, also, i grew up in a place where guns were simply not a part of ordinary people’s lives.

i think of the eight dead, the various injured, of the banality — again — of walking into a mall three weeks before christmas to be shot by a kid with more pain in his life than he can handle. i wonder at lives ending like this, in a mall of all places. we don’t go to the mall to die.

It is genuinely heartwarming to see this ordinary (I mean this is a good way) empathy, sympathy, and soul-searching.

I responded as follows (with added inserts):

You ask whether there’s a difference between you and Robert Hawkins. There is.

Dr. Liane Leedom, a psychiatrist who writes for LoveFraud suggested straight-away that he was a sociopath. My first reaction was to think, “Maybe, but maybe he was just very unhappy or disturbed in another way, psychotic, say.”

Then I read the suicide note [see below] and I see that, yes, he was indeed a sociopath (psychopath in my terms).

Ridiculous lies:

“I don’t want anyone to miss me.” Practically every word here means precisely its converse: I demand that everyone never forgets me.

One doesn’t say, “I’ve snapped”, sit down to write a note, make one’s way over to the mall, and then walk around picking people off with a gun. That’s not snapping. (more…)