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What’s in a Lie? February 17, 2009

Posted by lyndastucky in Communication.

In 1872 John Ruskin wrote: “The essence of lying is deception, not in words; a lie may be told by silence, by equivocation, by the accent of a syllable, by a glance of the eyes attaching a peculiar significance to a sentence; and by all these kinds of lies are worse and baser by many degrees than a lie plainly worded.”

Have you seen the new show on television called Lie to Me? My son and I were watching it the other day with fascination.  The premise of the show is that our facial expressions and body movements are key to whether we are lying or not just as John Ruskin suggests.  Each story has a crime case and the experts are called in to watch the people involved to analyze their movements.   Then they determine who is lying.  It is fascinating  process and they show pictures of real people (politicians mostly) who have been caught lying and their expressions associated while telling the lie. 

I decided to see how well my son remembered what was just talked about on the show regarding subtle gestures we make when we lie. 

He asked me, “Do I really have to go to bed?”

“No,” I said fiddling with the back of my head just like the actor who had just lied did,  “you can stay up really late tonight even though it is a school night.” 

“Really?” he asked totally unaware of my lying gesture. 

“Yea right.”  I reverted back to my sarcastic vocal tone.

“I didn’t think so,” he said fully understanding my vocal tone this time.

Luckily, he picked up on at least the one cue in my voice.  Now that we watch the show together, he and I may just have to alter the way we talk to each other. 

If you’d like to check out the show:

8 p.m. Wednesday, Fox

Let me know what you think of it!



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