Read This Blog and Win a Prize!


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Ok, I lied... There is no prize for reading this blog, but it does elude to the topic I want to cover. A while ago I had a pretty lengthy conversation with a friend of mine on pointless lies. We talked about the stupid things we have said that really gave us no gain other than to fill silence. The most memorable part of this conversation was a story that he told me.

Facts

It was my first semester at Penn Sate and I was sharing with him how ever class I am in does some sort of round robin game where we have to tell the class something about ourselves. I remember saying that usually I have nothing of significance to say and more often than not I blank and end up just saying some half truth or full on lie. He then shared his story about how his first year at Penn State he was asked to share something about himself. My friend being a writer and having a great imagination happened to blank this particular time and began to tell the most ridiculous lie ever. He stood up in front of the class and went on to share with the class about how at that time the year before he weighed 400 pounds.

I guess by my obvious look of shock (my friend at this point still weighed over 200 pounds) he started laughing and said the whole class began some kind of slow motivational clap that grew into a roar. We laughed about it, but it got me thinking. Why do we say things like this? I cannot fault him for his lie as I have done the same thing in front of a class. I was giving a presentation on laptops and their progression over the decades. The last example I gave was a new computer that weighed just over a pound. When a student asked me how much one of the older laptops weighed I quickly answered around 15 pounds. Some of the students in the class realized my blatant lie and began to laugh. The other students all nodded their heads in amazement that we had come so far with technology.

Why is it so hard for us to admit we don't know or that we did or didn't say/do something? I began to research this a bit and found that really the medical community doesn't have a solid answer. I did find that lying is divided into two categories Pathological and Compulsive. Pathological lying is a bit darker and tends to fall more in line with psychological disorders such as bi-polar, narcissism, and borderline personality disorder. Pathological lying is used as a gain by the person intentionally deceive people and further their imaginary life. It is generally noted as being the most destructive as these lies tend to be more significant and intricate. I found a few help websites that really illuminated the problem that it really is. One website found here is full of people begging for help as if it was some sort of addiction.

Compulsive lying is a bit different. Everything that I have read on this subject instead tells a story of people put on the spot trying to escape some sort of negative consequence. It is the fear of repercussion that causes the person to lie. There is no intricate story or double life here, but just a person trying to escape the real or imagined trouble that may come from answering the question unfavorably.
Quoted from eHow Health, "Compulsive liars feel the undeniable need to lie regardless of the situation, while pathological liars usually only lie when it will help them in some way."  
Compulsive lying is also linked to ADHD and other disorders that cause people to have difficulty thinking.

So far the only way to combat this is like any other addiction. First, admit it is a problem and second get help. Every person that has asked what to do on any forum or question board has had the same answer given to them. You need to find help and come clean.

What do you all think? What's the most ridiculous lie you have told?

I leave you with one of my favorite lying videos.
Lamas with hats (I suggest you watch them all!)

Some more reading if interested -

Psychology of lies




3 Comments

I know I'm guilty of this. While I would never lie about something serious, when there is an awkward silence, especially when I'm around new people, I've been known to tell little white lies about myself to make myself sound more interesting. I think the reason I continue to do it is because people tend to believe them and it allows me to spark a conversation. In a study about lying, psychologists at the University of Western Australia found that if lies are said enough, people will believe them even when they are proven wrong. Maybe I need to start being more careful about what I say because little white lies may help me talk to people that I don't know but they can create the wrong impression. It may make me more interesting, but I'd rather be who I am than interesting.
Go to this link for more details on the study: http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/09/23/why-do-we-believe-lies-even-after-they-are-proven-wrong/45002.html

This is a great topic for a blog because everyone can relate to this. Personally, I'm not much of a liar. I like to think I'm interesting enough as it is. But, of coarse, I have lied about my age a couple times to get into a club, or maybe told my parents a lie when I may or may not have snuck out of the house at 2 am on a Saturday night in the 8th grade. In terms of the studies you posted, how much can we really trust these people providing data? I think that someone who lies on a regular basis will most surely lie about how much they lie. For starters, my guess is that the 1460 lies a year is probably a higher number in reality. Additionally, in extreme cases of Pathological liars with serious mental illnesses, the people lying actually come to believe their own lives as truths. Therefore, if you asked how much they lied, they number in their head is lower than the truth because they actually believe that some or most of their lies are not lies. I know this is extreme and rare cases, but not as rare as most people may think. When lying has almost become a norm in our society, how will we really ever measure the validity of how much people lie?
To read more on pathological liars, check out this page.

http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/display/article/10168/1162950

This is quite an interesting post. Looking at the graphic that you posted, I am startled to read that the average person tells four lies a day but then again I think that is very plausible. That got me wondering about what a lie really is and where the line is drawn between "stretching the truth" and full on lying or if there is a difference? According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary website to lie is "to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive". Now that I've defined what was measured I have to say that I agree with Seth and am a bit skeptical about the study results because why would people tell the truth about how much they lie? Wouldn't they tend to underestimate this? Also I know that sometimes when I lie, I don't necessarily think of it as lying or realize that I do it so I wonder if lying is something we learn to do or if it is innate to humans or if it is both?
Both of the articles bellow state that we as humans learn how to lie at a rather young age but it is somewhat instinctual because we learn that we can lie to avoid certain things like punishment or uncomfortable social situations.
For more information, check these out!
http://nymag.com/news/features/43893/
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/DyeHard/story?id=949986&page=1#.ULFRS-Oe_KA

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