Friday, May 27, 2005

The Art of Deception

Recently I've been in several situations where I knew that at least one of the parties involved was lying or exaggerating the truth. I can read faces at least as well as the next guy and my Poker past has enabled me to spot "tells" with reasonable frequency, but nobody is perfect. The situation is often complicated by the fact that many people have deceived themselves so well that they just simply don't believe that they are lying. To quote a phrase that I've used many times before, "They start believing their own bullshit."

Some of these people are pure sociopaths, others are just deluded.

Again, the Web offers tips for both sides. If you want to do a better job of detecting lies, there are plenty of opinions, techniques, stories and guides available at the click of a mouse. On the other side of the equation, there is no shortage of discussions, viewpoints, books and articles dedicated to the art of lying persuasively. There are even online books that analyze the psychology of deception.

Will any of this make you any more likely to spot a lie (or turn you into a better liar?) Perhaps. Just don't forget that a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. If you get overconfident in your abilities as a liar (or lie detector) you can bet that some wiseguy is going to clip you quickly and deeply.


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