Thursday, 13 March 2008


Blue Fairy :Now remember Pinocchio, be a good boy and always let your conscience be your guide.
Blue Fairy :A lie keeps growing and growing until it’s as plain as the nose on your face.

Why do people lie ? In my case, two colleagues are now clearly lying. At first, I believed that they had made a genuine error of judgement and incorrectly interpreted events.

Now they are lying, their versions, with every telling, continue to change and new evidence and observations have been added - their lies get bigger. I suppose that they have no choice - when you start lying there can be no turning back - no matter the consequences.

Up until this mess, I had an implicit trust and faith in people. Today, I have a different opinion and it is sad to know that I doubt everyone’s motives ... no longer am I able to be as open and confident in my conversation.

It is pity that we are not more like Pinocchio ... lies are hard to recognize and even more difficult to defeat.

Types of Lie
Lies can be categorized in many different ways but a widely held view is that there are four types of lie :
  • Pro-social - Lying to help someone else.
  • Self-enhancement - Lying to make yourself look better whilst not hurting another.
  • Selfish - Lying to personally benefit at the expense of another.
  • Anti-social - Lying to deliberately damage another.
Simple Signs of Lying
The type of lie, and whether it is in keeping with the liar’s character, dictates how apparent the signs of lying are. Occasionally they are extremely obvious, especially when the liar is feeling guilty.

Obvious signs include :
  • Over denial - Repeating protests of innocence.
  • Stuttering - Stumbling over words without natural fluency.
  • Hand Wringing - Fiddling, rubbing, picking and playing with the fingers and hands while talking.
  • Eye Contact - Unwillingness to make or never breaking it.
The majority of people intending to tell a lie fabricate their story long beforehand and become comfortable with it and so rarely get caught out easily. Equally, many of the signs indicated may also simply be signs of nerves due to shyness or discomfort with a new situation.

Subtle Signs of Lying
There are of course more subtle signs which most people miss and which can affect even word perfect liars. These include :
  • Over formal speech - Use of long words, painfully correct grammar and the full forms of words or phrases that would normally be shortened, suggesting a scripted speech rather than natural conversation.
  • Very few gestures and no pointing - As physical movement illustrating something being described are a quite common and natural activity.
  • Justification - Attempting to justify every detail with lengthy explanations
  • Disparity - Mismatch between tone of voice and expression.
People who are used to detecting lies develop an instinct towards the more obscure signs, perhaps without even consciously noticing them. Most people, however, have a great deal of difficulty working out when someone is telling the truth. Which is why there are so many attempts to make a foolproof machine for catching lies.

I have pondered the value in taking a polygraph test. There are some staggering claims about their accuracy and reliability. I enquired about costs; there are three specialist organizations that will visit your home, including one that undertakes testing on behalf of Trisha Goddard’s Channel 5 Television programme - total cost of about £500.00. Yet would anyone be prepared to accept the validity of these tests ? Ideally I and the two hostile witnesses would have to be tested and that is not going to happen !


“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”
Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)