“It’s not what you don’t know that kills you, it’s what you know for sure that ain’t true.” -Mark Twain

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

As Simon Sinek says in his book Start With Why, there are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.

Inspiring someone is the preferred path to take, but not everyone makes that decision. For many of us, manipulation takes less cognitive power than inspiration. You only have to look at the magazines at the checkout stand to see an example of this in action. Even when you know you’re being lied to, you still read the headlines and smirk.n. As our society advances into the digital age, this practice still exists to a greater degree and it is much harder to detect truth from lies. And what’s worse is that nobody seems to try.

It’s important to define truth.

Truth is that which is true in accordance with fact and reality. For example, truth isn’t just hearing what you like. Truth is something that is objectifiably accurate, that isn’t subject to opinion. We can verify the truth to be true. In other words, truth is the opposite of deception and lies.

Honest communication lacks deceptive purpose, intent, or awareness. — Timothy R. Lavine

Meanwhile, deception and lies are the tools of manipulation. The deceiver when delivering information knows exactly what they are doing, has already considered and made the choice to lie.

Deception is intentionally, knowingly, or purposefully misleading another person. A lie is a subtype of deception but involves outright falsehoods and is consciously known to be false by the teller. The recipient believes the message as true, and has no idea that any of the information is in fact not true.

There are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth. And no one is lying. — Robert Evans

Truth by itself is still truth and is supported by fact and reality.


Everyone is doing it.

As a child, but even as an adult, you rationalize that since everyone else is doing it, it must be ok. This takes less cognitive processing power than actually thinking through the morality and consequences of what you’re doing

Cheating and dishonesty are regular occurrences in our society today. Many take the risk that they won’t be caught. Others knowingly make moral judgements, knowing that there is no civil law against their action.

Insider trading is illegal for the general population, but OK for members of the United States Congress. We have elected officials that use insider trading information for personal gain, as long as you reported it on the Financial Data Reports form. That exception was only corrected with the Stock Act in 2012.

The news of yesterday went through a process to filter out untruths and make sure the information was correct, by editors and fact checkers. Today the filters seem to be at a bare minimum if at all.

Nowadays we have school cheating scandals by affluent parents wanting to leverage their money in order to assure their children a coveted spot in the college of their choice. Knowing someone who could help you fix just about anything from ticket-fixing, test-scores scandals in our schools, cheating and dishonesty have been in the news more and more.

In the HBO documentary “After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News” documentary examines the use of disinformation, conspiracy theories and false news stories to manipulate the average citizen in the age of social media.

In the documentary coverage of the Project Birmingham an advistist admitted taking $100,000 from an organization to which he created a fake facebook ad. The ad was intentionally created with lies and was run in order to discourage Republication votes to show up to vote. His view was that everyone is being dishonest, so should he and it was not illegal. It was just a job he was skillful at and was hired. Turns out it might have been effective.

In the same HBO documentary there is the Pizzagate incident. The short story is that a conspiracy theory had claimed horrific activities at the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C. The result of this mis-information caused people to call the business with threats and harassment. One man traveled from North Carolina armed with an AR-15 style rifle to save the children.


Why Are Lies Difficult To Detect?

Most people are gullible: they immediately believe what they hear, see, or read and do not challenge the information. Timothy R. Levine describes the theory in his Truth Default Theory.

We accepted what our parents told us was the truth when we were younger.

We are wired to accept what we hear, see or read.

Accepting what we hear as truth requires less cognitive processing power.

Meanwhile, liars see that the rewards for this behavior are very high, and the penalties are almost not-existent.

When an untruth is spotted there is no legal remedy, because we have no laws to protect truth. The only remedy offered is “I’m sorry.” This will continue until a Judicial Remedy is in place, and laws are passed to protect and hold people accountable for their actions.


Finding the Truth requires effort on our part

“But we decide which is right, And which is an illusion.” — Graham Edge added this to the “Nights in White Satin” song back in the sixties.

While it’s easy to insist that it’s not our fault when we’re being lied to, people need to hold themselves accountable to discover the truth.

We must all monitor our personal truths that provide bias when making good decisions.

Most incidents go without early detections. We detect most lies after the fact, and not in real-time. We can change to early or real-time detection by learning methods and techniques that reveal lies, deceptions, and untruths.

Neil de Grasse Tyson says. “Informed skepticism — the ability to ask the right questions — keeps us from being manipulated.”


How to learn techniques to detect deception and lies.

If we listen to the content and context of the conversation for cues of disparity, that is a starting point. If the conversation is in person or we have visual interaction we can review verbal an non-verbal communication for signs of truth or lies. Trust your instinct.

Paying attention to whoever is delivering the message to understand their motivation and what’s in it for them can be helpful.

Learning to detect lies and protect ourselves from deception and lies will take time and effort on our part.Asking questions for further clarification can catch people in lies and the information changes during the interaction.

Changes to tone of voice and pitch, or fast talking cna be alerts that something is not exactly all true.

These are just a few of the methods that you can use to detect deception and lies.


We just have to increase our ability to pay attention, ask better and more questions.

Roy Moore was one casualty. The person who won the election had a choice knowing that through the use of misinformation he won, could have withdrawn and given Roy Moore the position. The voting people, a second casualty who were manipulated, have no recourse against the perpetrators.

In PizzaGate the casualties consist of a community, a business owner, employees of that business, and a man who believed he was rescuing children who now face charges and a different life from here on.

Today there is no civil law against what was done to Roy Moore or the owner, employee, and customers of Comet Ping Pong. Or the person who believed he was going to rescue children.

Manipulators and deceivers are unfortunately everywhere. In our society today, there are hardly any penalties for lying, and great rewards, especially among the richest and most powerful members of our society. While in an ideal world, lying would be far rarer, the first step to get there is take action on your own to understand when and why deception happens. What you see is not what you get in the truth arena. Don’t expect someone else to do that job for you. You have to take action to overcome it yourself.

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