Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
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According to the dictionary, a lie is an untrue statement made with the intent to deceive.
There are laws against lying, even a biblical command against it.
But all the laws in the world don't stop lying from happening. So how do you know if you are being lied to?
Dr. Kim Mulvihill looks at how to spot a liar.
In the movie Liar Liar, Jim Carrey plays a man who has perfected the art of lying.
"Any calls?" "Judge Rawlings' clerk,
he needs your filing." "Tell him it's in the mail." "Right, you'll
do it next week. Mr. McKinley phoned
to confirm your meeting tomorrow." "Strep throat. No
some kind of virus, what's going
around?" "Asian flu." "Good one."
He says no one can survive in the adult world if they have to always tell the truth. And he's not alone.
"I think I lie quite a bit actually."
"I do lie sometimes, but I try not to."
"Every once in a while."
"My mom does sometimes."
"Of course." "Maybe a couple times a week. You don't want to hurt someone's feelings if they say 'do I look fat in these jeans'."
"Everybody seems to lie somewhere down along the line, right."
UC San Francisco psychologist Dr. Paul Ekman is an expert in the art of deception.
Author of the book "Telling Lies", he teaches law enforcement and counter intelligence how to spot whether someone is lying.
He says lie catching only works when the stakes are high.
"If the stakes are low, there's not much to gain or lose by success or failure. Then it's very unlikely that demeanor, face, body, voice and speech are going to betray the lie."
He says most liars can fool most people most of the time. Why? Because we're easily misled. We pay too much attention to the least trustworthy sources-- a person's words and facial expressions.
"How do I spot a liar? I think the shifty eyes was a good one."
"Oh I can tell by the look on his face and I can also tell by how he says it."
"She looks down. When she lies, she looks down when she talks."
"There isn't anything that's a sign of lying itself," Dr. Ekman says. "It's not that if I move that eyebrow it means I'm lying, or if I touch my nose it means I'm lying, nothing like that."
Even so, if you look closely you can spot clues-- not signs of lying per se-- but clues that a person is poorly prepared, or clues of emotion that don't fit with what's being said.
"If we're highly suspicious we're not likely to be misled, but we may disbelieve a truthful person. If were highly trusting, we'll rarely disbelieve a truthful person but we might well be misled. So you have to decide which risk can you live with."
Finding the balance that works best for you, and how you want to live your life.