“Okay, now I don’t want to alarm anybody in this room, but it’s just come to my attention that the person to your right is a liar. Also, the person to your left is a liar. Also the person sitting in your very seat is a liar. We’re all liars”
“What I’m going to do today is show you what the research says about why we’re all liars, how you can become a lie-spotter, and why you might want to go the extra mile and go from lie-spotting to truth-seeking, and ultimately to trust-building.”
A fairly dramatic sermon introduction, don’t you think?!
Actually, that’s the way Pamela Meyer introduced her TED talk, “How to spot a liar.” (But there’s certainly plenty of sermon material here!)
Meyer provides some frightening stats (e.g. on any given day we’re lied to from 10 to 200 times; strangers lie to each other tree times in the first ten minutes of meeting, etc.) that powerfully illustrate our our corrupt human nature that starts lying as soon as we are born (Ps. 58:3). So prevalent is lying that Meyer says we live in a “post-truth society.” However, she wants to re-build truth and trust by training people to become lie-spotters (good luck with that!). Here are her tips.
- Liars like to distance themselves from the subject. Taking Bill Clinton as an example, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” has the two giveaways of “that woman” and ”did not” (instead of the more informal “didn’t”)
- Liars use qualifying language, like “to tell you the truth.”
- Repeating the question before answering it dishonestly is a common indicator of a lie.
- Liars look you in the eyes too much.
- Liars don’t fidget, but rather freeze their upper body.
- Liars will fake smiles.
- Liars like to offer lots of details.
- Liars are more likely to suggest strict punishments for the “real culprit.”
- Liars are terrible at telling their stories backwards.
- Liars will often point their feet towards an exit.
- Liars will often put barrier objects between themselves and the person asking them about their lie.
In a world so full of lies, isn’t it wonderful that the Christian can pick up the one book in the world that is total truth, and find the One who alone can say, “I am the truth.”