‘Neurological correlates’ – a blog worth a visit

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. Continue reading


Quick post: Myths about liar’s body language debunked

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

An internet dating horror story PLUS a video of the perp paramoralising

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. Continue reading

The truthiness of the paramoralism

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: Continue reading

How I specifically detect lies – by ‘a human lie detector’

[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). Continue reading

Myth: Psychopaths are great liars. Part 3 – The nature of lying

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? Continue reading