Monday, 27 July 2009
Spotting A Bare Faced Lie
People use lies to deceive and manipulate others So the best way of not being duped is to know when people are being honest. But is there a sure fire way of making sure people are being honest?
Dr Stefan Fafinski has set up honestylab.com in an attempt to apply science to that most subjective of human pastimes...deciding if someone is telling the truth.
Can it be done though? Uncovering the truth has vexed the layman and the philosopher for thousands of years. Pontious Pilate posed the question What is Truth to the Pharisees at the trial of Jesus Christ.
There isthe constant possibility of deception in our attempts to rationalise events. Referring to the ideas of Robert Trivers, Steven Pinker (2002:263-264) says that
“Every human relationship…has a distinct psychology forged by a pattern of converging and diverging interests” adding that we “suppress evidence that we are not as beneficent or competent as we would like to think”
Trivers (1976) explains this phenomenon in the following way:
“If…deceit is fundamental to animal communication, then there must be strong selection to spot deception and this ought, in turn, to select for a degree of self-deception, rendering some facts and motives unconscious so as not to betray…the deception being practised. Thus the conventional view that natural selection favours nervous systems which produce ever more accurate images of the world must be a very naïve view of mental evolution”
So can we ever spot the double bluff? Is deception just a look in the face or does it also have something to do with the situation and the pattern of events that have led up to the deceptive act.
Fafinski's research is interesting. It is only one part of the story. Therefore it can never honestly claim to be the truth about honesty.