Pull out something from the air and tell some lies; Repeat that over again and again. There will come a time when you yourselves will start believing them.
Your deceptive strategies can bring in applause. I can tell you a small story regarding this. In a small town in Kerala an army cadet went on mesmerizing people when he came back on retirement. He narrated all live experiences in some extremely cold border areas like Lay. His talks were very lively while pouring out stories how they faced the showers of bullets. He was in vivid details explaining how when bombing was a night mare he was forging ahead to protect the borders. He repeated these stories so often he started believing every word he said. The truth was something different. Actually our friend was comparatively in a safer place working as a cook confined in the kitchen throughout. Thomas Jefferson has once said “He, who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and a third time till at length it becomes habitual”.
We have another example of an old timer who went on claiming he was in Ahmadabad in his young days. He claimed that he had been with Mahatma Gandhi and he took part in the freedom struggle. His narration about the Dandi march and the freedom struggles all around the country were very appealing. But the fact of the matter was that he had nothing to do with the freedom movement. He was working as an accountant and of course had once gone to jail but for altogether a different reason of theft from the shop owner’s treasury.
The question is whether you can create emotional and truthful testimonies and recreate the scenes from out of your vivid memories of either what somebody told or even when you were not actually experiencing the war or freedom struggle or anything like that.
We have doctors making tall claims about the number of successful operations accomplished; we have politicians making fantastic stories of achievements. Corporate bodies sometimes make very impressive stories of their scores, success launching and milestones. Even religious groups cook up stories about their country wide reach and social schemes. We have stories falsely fabricating an entire autobiography. The author then reads the story again and again and begins to believe in his own fake and cooked up story. If we make a psychological assessment, it would be revealed that they are incapable of distinguishing the truth from a lie because the repeated lies can affect their memory.
Fyodor Dostoevsky reminds us “Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love”
Brain of liars
Is there anything unique about the brains of frequent liars? Psychologist Yaling Yang studied the brain scans of groups of people with a long history of repeated lying, and compared with those less frequent. Yaling found that the liars had in their brains at least 20 percent more neural fibers by volume in their prefrontal cortices. This suggests that habitual liars have greater connectivity within their brains. They are equipped therefore to cook up lies more readily than the other group in comparison .This is presumed to be the result of repeated lying.
When people uttered falsehood, the scientists noticed a rush of activity in their amygdala. The amygdala as we know is the part of the brain that triggers fear and discomfort when you attempt to lie. But in an experiment where the liars were rewarded for deceiving, they noticed the negative signals from the amygdala beginning to show a decline especially when they never had to face any consequences for dishonesty.
Those who actually witness a crime sometimes falsely denies having been anywhere near the scene or having seen or heard anything.
In some circumstances he might have been an accomplice to the crime. They deny having anything to do with the crime. This could be to confuse and camouflage their involvement in a crime and with the motive of avoiding punishment. Even a victim of crime of theft, criminal assault or rape may desist to give any evidence out of fear of consequences.
Why people lie
People lie to avoid legal action or out of sheer fear as we have just seen. They choose deliberately to escape or evade a situation. Sometimes this could be for a personal advantage or money. For some hush money some may plead ignorance of anything related to a crime. People lie for getting a job or for amassing wealth through swindling. India has a history of large number of financial cheating through chit funds etc. People also lie to create an image for themselves and to appear as honorable. People tell blatant lies sometimes with unknown motives and for things that are unclear and unrevealed to even themselves.
The deceptive person sometimes believes they have an advantage and can gain something from avoiding the truth. A core pathological liar because of acute mental defect cannot reckon what the reality is. The lie detector tests are somewhat subjective and the interpretations could be uncertain. The efficacy of Polygraphs or lie detectors is not therefore anywhere perfect. Most modern polygraphs measure the interviewee’s heart pulses and external signs, physical manifestations like sweating, deep breathing etc during the questioning. The questions need to be pin pointed so as to extract truth and it should be based on available facts. Any complication or lack of clarity in the questioning procedure will serve no purpose.
Sometimes a response is caused by the stress of lying or misleadingly for other reasons like responding to something they consider significant.
It is a real headache for police when people come up with several kinds of pretexts to avoid a court room situation. Some of them simply act well to put on a show in the court to prove that they do not remember anything and they are at a total loss of memory. A good number of witnesses or crime participants feign amnesia after a crime, in order to appear incompetent to stand in the witness box. This can be sometimes due to the prompting of defense of lawyers and in any case such repeated statements would make them believe they were away from the scene.
Some others would cook up a story far from truth, a deceptive strategy making an entirely false and fictitious account of the happenings. They could also put forth a false alibi to prove that they were far away from the crime scene when the crime actually occurred.
In fact this poses a big challenge for those judges deciding cases. When people deliberately avoid truth and fabricate stories even tools like lie detectors serve no much purpose.
The most pathetic fact is that their original memory of events tends to fade and stand affected. Getting at the truth becomes very difficult. Forensic professionals and judges who have to bring on records the individuals’ statements from memory have therefore a tough job on hand.
Professionals with adequate knowledge of interrogation techniques can to a great extent unveil information, but nonetheless certain information may never be retrieved to the full extent due to a genuine blurring or impairment of the memory.
In one of the Mumbai churches in the sixties there appeared a young man with a very attractive face called Tom. His behavior in the church was so exemplary and devotional and his demeanor was so compelling.
He took part in the social service activities and took active interest in every youth activities. He soon became a role model for many. He was earning his bread as a fruit vendor in front of government offices.
Tom became a sort of attraction for almost every parishner . The young girls in the parish were always in giggle whenever they came across Tom. Some of the parents brought marriage alliance proposals. But he said no, it was not time yet for an alliance.
Years passed and Tom’s popularity grew. Then one day, a man who had once worked in Pakistan exposed the big lie about Tom. He was actually a Pakistani in a Christian garment working as a spy in this country. He was soon caught red handed and was arrested by police.
We come across many such impersonators who lead a life for years pulling the yarns of lies all around. We come across politicians seriously involved in crimes and later plead innocent.
Even in holy places where people attach so much devotion where holy people devoted in the pursuit of God is not free from this phenomena. Some of them are a rogues’ gallery of deceivers, offering passports to heaven. We know there are doctors who practice for years together without even the basic education.
These notorious liars befool people for long and mostly are never detected. The damage they create within the society is beyond imagination. It is unfortunate that we have such impostors; swindlers are sitting at the helm of affairs in politics and local government.
Lying for no reason
We have seen the many reasons for telling a lie. For some people it is merely a matter of fun that they are able to befool others thereby gaining a vain supremacy over them. In order to remain competitive in the matter of attracting the opposite sex and appear glamorous sometimes people project themselves as some totally different person far from reality .In the real world one has to gain popularity,boost up their self image and show some strength to win a lively hood etc.
Tendency to lie and befool is rampant in human nature. Psychologists, social scientists and neurological experts have been doing a lot of research to find roots of this behavior. We have a large number of people out there ready to befool others through their make belief lies and an equal or more people ready to gobble up those lies straight. It is therefore hard task for weeding out the chaff and find truth.
Jose Vazhuthanapilly, BSc., LLB, DBM, CAIIB Retired in 2008 as AGM from State Bank of India. He had worked as a visiting faculty in the Bank’s Staff Training Centers for 5 years. He is a writer with 20 books to his credit including books on self-help/ psychology. He resides in Ernakulam, Kochi. He is active also in social service. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Prasangakarkkulla Kadhakal (St. Paul’s Books, Ernakulam)
- EQ – Vyakti Jeevitham Mikavuttathakkam (Sophia Books, Calicut)
- Atma Viswasathinte Karuthu Nedam (Sophia Books, Calicut)
- Mano Sankharshangale Keezhadakkan Chila Prayogika Margangal (Media House, Calicut)
- Vijayam Ningalude Ullil Thanneyanu (Vimala Books)