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5 Signs that a Politician is Lying

5 Signs that a Politician is Lying

“How can you tell when a politician is lying? When his (or her) lips move.” That’s a tired old chestnut, but the truth is, whether assessing a candidate or a loved one you fear is cheating, human beings are pretty lousy at detecting deception.

Politicians can be especially tricky to catch since most of them have had so much practice. Between spin doctors, speech writers, media consultants, pr managers, sycophants and their own often monumental egos, those who would dine at the public trough are trained to stay on message and exude confidence, sincerity and trustworthiness. Perhaps more importantly, they develop a keen sense of what we, the citizenry, want to hear: we warm to positive messages and flinch from painful truths. And because so many of us are woefully ignorant about the details of the issues, we, like sheep, are easily led.

The best defense against a lie is knowledge. If your paramour insists that he was watching the Sunday game with his buds but you happened to catch a glimpse of him in the lobby of the boutique hotel where you’d had brunch, well, there you go, both metaphorically and probably literally. But apart from firsthand knowledge (or other reliable evidence) are there verbal and nonverbal clues that can give a liar away? As the debates, both presidential and congressional, loom, being able to employ your own personal bullshit detector could be most helpful. After all, we can’t rely on the occurrence of those covetable “misspeaks” or “off-the-cuff remarks” that reveal precisely what a politician is thinking — and trying to conceal.

Lying is harder than telling the truth. Lying is stressful. To be an effective liar requires that one rehearse and memorize detail rather than rely on memory. Because of the anxiety associated with lying and the perceived sense of the importance of the lie, the liar often will give him- or herself away. This is especially true of politicians since their lives can be exhaustingly busy and lies require energy and constant attention.

Experts tend to agree that none of the standard indicators is completely fool – or politician – proof. Some people are simply really good at lying. Many signs, such as the fleeting facial tics known as “micro-expressions,” are extremely difficult for a lay person to distinguish. When applying the following clues to uncover lies and liars, it’s good policy to temper hubris with modesty: understand that you might get it wrong. But careful use of them might help you get it right.

1. Notice eye contact.
It’s a myth that liars won’t or can’t make eye contact. However, look for unnatural eye contact: either the person is unable to maintain contact or s/he fixes you (or the camera) with a strained and aggressive stare.

2. Read body language.
Pay attention to such indicators as crossed arms or legs, slouching or tilting the head away: these can indicate the discomfort that accompanies lying.

3. Follow the eyes.
Many researchers posit that when the eyes look up and to the right (his or her right, not yours) this suggests that the part of the brain linked to the imagination is being triggered. Conversely, the eyes looking down and to the left might indicate the part of the brain linked to memory.

4. Look at the hands.
Often liars’ hands will speak eloquently of deception. Watch for clenched fists, covering the mouth or part of the face, rubbing the eyes, scratching on or behind the ear.

5. Pay attention to detail.
The person who offers too much detail, especially unasked, might be lying. Because the narrative of the lie is fabricated, the liar can often be tripped up by inconsistencies in the story, especially if the same questions are repeated after some time has passed.

Politicians’ lips always move and it’s not always lies that emanate. To truly become a lie detector, you need to arm yourself with information and intuition. But if you do notice someone’s pants on fire.
To read more about the signs of deception, check out these websites:

http://www.truthaboutdeception.com/lying-and-deception/detecting-deception/nonverbal-cues.html

http://www.thewisdomjournal.com/Blog/15-signs-youre-lying-to-m/

http://www.forbes.com/2006/11/03/detecting-lies-trust-tech_06trust_cx_ee_1103lies.html

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Photo credit: Peaco Todd

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283 comments

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8:33AM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

thanks but some are so well practiced..

6:38AM PDT on Sep 30, 2012

If the lie is premeditated and studied, I guess the liar would use his memory, so the eyes would be looking down and to the left... or not?

5:49PM PDT on Sep 28, 2012

liars are how religion and republicanism cured me of both

5:48PM PDT on Sep 28, 2012

ii remember reading about four type s of liar chronic, pathological, compulsive and habitual though I rember I dated a fifth , many times

2:57AM PDT on Sep 28, 2012

You can use these for everyone. I have noticed that when commentators are trying to support positions they don't agree with you can see these.

5:16AM PDT on Sep 27, 2012

They are not lying...

They are just speaking a different language than some of us. This language is called "Republicaneese".

Republicaneese... is a language that is based mostly on opposites and projecting your own faults onto your opponents.

It is a language that is used primarily by Republican politicians, but more recently is being used by their follower's too... due to the excessive use of it on Fox (Faux) News!

As it is readily apparent in a very few of the comments here... Most non-Republicans can identify and translate these comments quite easily due to the lack of common sense and lack of ANY facts available to support the statements being made.

More often than not, the speaker of this language is totally unaware that the listener's perception of the speakers mental abilities drops exponentially with every word!

5:10AM PDT on Sep 27, 2012

when arent they?

10:45PM PDT on Sep 26, 2012

i thought looking left meant fabricating and looking right meant remembering....

9:01PM PDT on Sep 25, 2012

Yes Paul, Nyahoo wants war and big bucks Romney will give it to him, on the credit card. Your full of shit if you think otherwise.

7:29PM PDT on Sep 25, 2012

@Paul writes I really don't understand what is bothering you. You have zero capacity for tolerance of any opposing viewpoint, perspective, opinion, whatever you call it.

That's just not true paul. I have zero tolerance for people who willingly play games with people by telling lies.

@Paul B writes Opinions are only effective if taken from reliable and trusted sources
@Paul B writes That is why I try to present alternative perspectives
@Paul B writes Now truthfully... how much fun would you guys have on this site without me to stir your juices???

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