Playing the Lying Game: Detecting and Dealing with Lies and Liars, from Occasional Fibbers to Frequent Fabricators

Playing the Lying Game: Detecting and Dealing with Lies and Liars, from Occasional Fibbers to Frequent Fabricators

Playing the Lying Game: Detecting and Dealing with Lies and Liars, from Occasional Fibbers to Frequent Fabricators

Playing the Lying Game: Detecting and Dealing with Lies and Liars, from Occasional Fibbers to Frequent Fabricators

Synopsis

The deceptions vital to Bernie Madoff's $50 billion Ponzi scheme made lying an art and garnered new heights of media attention for the practice. Fortunately, not all liars are so malevolently motivated. Yet the fact remains that nearly every adult alive is affected by lying nearly every day, if not by being lied to, then by being put in a position where they must decide whether a lie is justified.

Excerpt

In recent years, lying has become of increased concern, as has ethics. Numerous reality/game shows have involved deception, most notably Survivor. The hit TV show Lie to Me is about an investigator who detects lies. Numerous films highlight lying and deceit, such as the box-office smash Hangover and the Julia Roberts – Clive Owen star vehicle Duplicity, Recently, lying has been very much in the news because of deceptions by a string of finance tycoons charged with cheating clients of millions and billions of dollars, such as Bernie Madoff, whose 50-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme netted a 150-year sentence. And many authors have been found guilty of creating their memoirs out of imagined incidents, such as Herman Rosenblat’s fabrication about his experiences in meeting his wife as a child in a concentration camp. The list goes on and on.

Because of such controversies, a renewed debate has swirled around the question of when lying is acceptable and when it should be excused. Ironically, when I first published The Truth about Lying in 1994, no one seemed to think lying was much of an issue; publishers seemed to think people either didn’t lie or wouldn’t want to admit it by reading a book about it. But then the 1997 film Liar, Liar, with Jim Carrey, about a lying lawyer who commits to telling the truth, triggered interest in the subject, leading to discussions of the topic on popular programs such as Oprah and Montel Williams. And the following year, President Clinton created an explosion of interest in lying with his 1998 deceptions about his affair with Monica Lewinsky and his stern pronouncement that he had never had a relationship with “that girl,” leading to lying becoming front page news as the specter of the Starr Report and impeachment proceedings fueled the news and late night talk show jokes. In fact, during this period, I was a featured expert guest on Oprah, Montel Williams, the O’Reilly Factor, and other shows talking about how and why people lie and describing . . .

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