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How to lie in 14 steps: the WikiHow guide to dishonesty
03.24.2017
08:33 am
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Writing for Esquire in 1969, Gore Vidal laid bare a “demagogic strategy” William F. Buckley used to befuddle opponents:

If one is lying, accuse others of lying. On television this sort of thing is enormously effective in demoralizing the innocent and well-mannered who, acting in good faith, do not lie or make personal insults. Buckley has made many honorable men look dishonest fools by his demagoguery, and by the time they recover from his first assault and are ready to retaliate, the program is over.

Why is this effective? Because the thought of lying in public, where a judge, policeman or journalist might hear, gives good citizens the cold sweats. The mere accusation unleashes the bad conscience of the regular taxpayer and snaps his mind neatly in half. Did I fail to give a full and accurate account? Am I guilty of an act of omission, if not commission? Could I have used a more charitable adjective? Perhaps I did mischaracterize certain of my honorable friend’s views, etc.
 

 
We at Dangerous Minds don’t believe the strategies and tactics of dishonesty should be the preserve of the rich, the powerful, and the stupid, and few other “content providers” will tell you the score. While the New York Times may report on “How to Improve Your Productivity at Work,” the Gray Lady is unlikely to teach you how to play fast and loose with the facts. Less reputable outlets than ours will lie to you, which can be instructive, but they will do nothing deliberately to wise you up.

That’s why, until they start teaching us how to do our own surgeries, WikiHow’s lying clinic is likely to remain their most useful public service. 

I won’t list all of their 14 steps to falsehood, but here are some of the basics. Rehearsal is a key part of the technique. Repetition gives purchase to the most absurd, self-contradictory assertion. There are a few body language tips:

Be sure not to rub your face too much, sway back and forth, or shrug your shoulders a lot. Keep your arms down at your sides rather than folding them across your chest. Don’t blink more often than normal or turn your body away from the person. All of these are signs that you are lying.

(But what if you want people to believe you’re lying? It would be interesting to try all of these gestures at once while scrupulously telling the truth, as an experiment.)
 

 
Another pro tip from WikiHow: lie before you have to. Take the initiative. I think this means you run into the living room with icing in your nostrils and scream “I did not eat the cake that is not missing!”

The Community Q&A covers likely eventualities: “What if the person has found evidence?” “Is covering up your bad deed with a less significant bad deed a good strategy?” “If I need to, how do I force tears?”

This last question is misguided. Just tell the sucker you’re crying.

Posted by Oliver Hall
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03.24.2017
08:33 am
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The Truth About Lying
09.02.2009
03:24 pm
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The current Forbes offers up some interesting theories as to why men and women lie—especially when it comes to that hall-of-mirrors world of online dating.  With apologies to Jane, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that a single man will lie about his height and salary, while a single woman will often lie about their age.  But why?  Well, according to Dennis Reina, author of Trust & Betrayal in the Workplace, men, culturally, are more concerned with their professional status, women their social status.

The playing field’s pretty even (now) when it comes to issues of extramarital affairs and money.  Regarding the later, though, men tend to lie about, “bad investments or financial decisions, while women (even if they make as much or more money than the man) will misrepresent their buying habits.”

But there’s also, perhaps, in play here a biological component.  Regarding women who alter their appearance with push-up bras and Botox, Mark Frank, a communications professor at the University of Buffalo, suggests, “these small deceptions might be necessary for procreation and social survival.  A tiger has stripes that coat its back and blend it into the high grass.  It doesn’t wake up one day and say, ‘Shall I put on spots?’” 

Hmm…comparing “deceptive women” to tigers.  Hey, Dr. Frank: maybe there’s a psychology professor down the hall?

In Forbes: He Lied, She Lied

Bonus: The Knickerbockers’ Lies

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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09.02.2009
03:24 pm
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