Lying is fun and useful. There are many kinds of lies: big lies, small lies, white lies and ‘oh my God we’ve killed someone’ lies. You can also lie through your teeth, although I’ve tried it and it’s very hard to emit anything other than saliva while clenching down your jaws. We all lie everyday about all kinds of things. We lie about being happy, about our health, about liking someone or not, and we lie about what we like behind closed doors under the sheets.
You could argue about the ethics of lying but I say go for it. As long as it doesn’t get you in jail or ends up hurting someone, you should have some fun! But what about if you suspect someone else lying to you? Well now the tables have turned and we don’t like that!
There are several ways used to tell if someone is lying. Probably the most famous is the polygraph machine, or lie detector. These things measure the physiological stress while the subject answers some questions. Any spikes in the squiggly line supposedly indicate a high amount of stress and therefore a lie. Of course the validity of these lie detectors is questionable at best, given the fact that they have been fooled on several occasions and any person being interrogated will automatically stress his pants off. Still, like many other scams, lie detectors are still in use today.
Another well-known method of weeding out the lies is the reading of body language. Paying attention to any facial expressions, movements and speech may help to detect a lie, though once again accuracy is a problem. When someone looks to the left, then to the right and says ‘no’, then you can be damn sure he’s a lying scoundrel! But in most cases the signals are very subtle if present at all, and can easily be misread.
Finally we have torture. While not very humane, beating someone into a bloody pulp can make them very cooperative. Usually you threaten to probe their lower region with a sharp object, which will make the average person share his most awkward secrets, but the good interrogator will know to carry out the threat just to be sure. While perhaps satisfying to some, torture is not a surefire way of detecting lies because people will say anything to stop the pain. A famous account of forced confessions can be found in the history of the Knights Templar.
So, is there a way of detecting lies without flaw? Yes, there is. It’s called the guilt trip. When you are absolutely certain that the thieving bastard has stolen your chocolate chip cookie, you must forgive him. Be gentle, tell him it’s ok. And if he had stolen your chocolate chip cookie, you wouldn’t be mad but disappointed, because you trusted him. Then you put a paint bomb in the cookie jar and take a walk.