How to Lie EffectivelyBy Adam Sinicki
There is certainly an allure to some of the 'darker arts'. You hear about people who steal items from shops only to subtly return them. They steal not because they're cheap or because they enjoy upsetting poor shop owners, but because they enjoy the thrill of getting away with this. I can understand this myself - once I snuck out of a theme park I'd paid for with a friend so we could try and sneak back in again without getting court. There is a certain enjoyment in besting your opponent and in getting away with something.
Lying is no different, and to get away with a lie you need a good amount of wit and cunning - not only to act truthful in a manner can fool the most astute observer, but also to be able to construct a lie that is believable to begin with and to avoid saying anything to the contrary. And sometimes you have to lie anyway - it's not necessarily an evil thing. For instance if you're captured by bad guys and they're trying to question you on what your team of good guys is up to. So in case that situation should ever arise, or in case your partner is accusing you of eating the last cookie, here are some tips on how to lie effectively. This information is taken from my own research, and from lots of practice being a lying bastard.
Effective Lying TipsNo Baseline: Here's how to pass a lie detector. If you are ever taken in for questioning by the government (who are you??), then you will be strapped up to an EEG machine (electroencephalograph). These machines measure electrical activity in the brain and this allows them to register essentially any form of excitability. So if you are aroused or angry this thing will spike, and it will also spike if you're nervous i.e. lying.
However in order for these experts to recognize the spike in activity when you lie, they will attempt to get a baseline. In other words, they'll ask some questions where they know you're telling the truth, and then some questions where they know you're lying. They can then get a baseline for how much electrical activity is normally going on inside your brain and look at the difference created when you lie. If this same sized spike occurs again then that suggests more lies.
The solution and what I read special agents are told to do, is to not let them get a baseline by not telling the truth at the beginning. So when they ask your name you say 'Bilbo Baggins'. You're scared shitless because you know they're going to punch you in the face but that's ideal - it prevents them from getting an accurate reading. Then when the important questions come up they'll have nothing to refer back to.
In an every day situation this won't really work though. If you're being asked about the cookie then no one's going to ask you your name and there's no EEG device (if there is then your relationship is somewhat unhealthy...). However the human brain does do something akin to this anyway - comparing how people are acting to how we normally expect them to act. As such if you keep throwing in curve balls and act generally erratic, then you'll be harder to pin down and people will struggle to spot lies. This is very true in Poker - be all over the place and you'll be hard to pin down so make it look like you're always bluffing and invent little ticks.
Note: An EEG (coupled with the monitoring of 'microexpressions' on a camera with a super-high temporal resolution) is the best form of lie detector test that the MI5 or FBI currently own and it's not very effective at all (about 60%) I believe. So when Jeremy Kyle states that his lie detector test is 100% accurate... well he's talking bullshit really. I'm a bit surprised that he's allowed to masquerade as though it's real, but there you go!
Second Note: The other way to pass a lie detector is to clench your sphincter (your ass muscle). Apparently doing this throws off the reading presumably because it once again causes a fluctuation in electrical activity. I assume clenching any muscle would work, but I've only ever seen people say sphincter.. so to be on the safe side that's what you ought to try tensing.
Avoiding Lies: At the same time, the other thing that special agents are told to do is to avoid directly lying and to wherever possible simply avoid telling the truth. In other words then if someone asks what you were doing yesterday (you were binging on all their cookies) you say 'I was round your house', or 'I was eating' - or even 'I don't remember'. Lying quickly becomes very complicated and complex and it's fairly easy for someone to break down your defences when you are lying by picking holes in your story.
Note: If you do have to lie then it can also help to surround the lie with truth. Drop the lie in casually around some true statements and it will be harder for them to zero in on.
Use Truth for Inspiration: If someone is inviting you to something you don't want to go to, then what you mustn't do is to make up an elaborate story as to why you can't go. The bigger the story, the more things there are to go wrong and the more details there are to remember ('how was your bar mitzvah Geoff? I never knew you were Jewish...'). What's much easier is to base your lie on some truth. One way to do this is to move another event forward. So if you really are going to a house waming party next week, you simply claim that the house warming part is this week. Then when they ask you how it was you will have a story in your memory to draw on. This will mean the way you tell the memory is the same way that you really do talk when you're remembering something (rather than inventing something) and you may even find other details leak out that confirm your story - such as the fact that that person really did move into a new home. Likewise if you want to lie about your past, then you can borrow someone else's past and tell your interrogator that person's story.
Be Brief and Don't Ham it Up: There's a tendency for people to sometimes 'over' invent something. Normally when we recount what we've been up to we tend to be quite brief and quick about it, so if you add in lots of extra details ('and you should have seen the look on little Timmy's face when we presented him with his Thomas the Tank Engine Cake! Sadly the fourth candle wouldn't light...') they'll smell a rat. Likewise the more detailed the lie is the more there is once again for you to remember and/or to accidentally contradict.
Disguise Your Motives: What is it that makes someone question that you're telling the truth in the first place? Normally it's that your lie is rather convenient for you, or that you have an obvious motive that is compelling you to tell it. What you need to do then is to make sure that there is no obvious motive for your lie and this way you won't arouse suspicion. If you plan to steal a cookie later then lie about it, then try pave the way by stating that you don't like the cookies at an earlier point. Likewise if a lie seems to damage your reputation in some way then once again people will be more likely to believe it ('I couldn't have eaten the cookie, I spent all day crying in my pants at how useless my life is!'). Likewise if you were an MI5 agent trying to conceal some information about the MI5 you might want to let a little bit of information out that could be damaging to the organization. This way you buy the trust of the bad guys. Salesmen and women will often do this by actually pointing out the flaws in their product saying 'it's the best value, but of course you will lose a little of the sheen by paying less' - which then makes you believe all of the hyperbolic positives they go on to list.