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Five Minute Monday – How to Spot a Liar

There are not any really reliable ways to detect a lie. For years, we’ve heard of the “lie detector test”, and see a fictional version of that play out on every television show and movie. You know, where the suspect agrees to take a polygraph test, and the expert examiner asks a series of questions, and then later looks at the squiggly lines on the paper and says, “He shows elevated stress when I asked him about that”.  The fact is, polygraphs are rarely admissible in court because well-practiced liars can beat them, and people telling the truth can fail them.

So how do you spot a liar?

According to this Ted-Ed video in this week’s Five Minute Monday, liars have a number of tell-tail signs in their phrasing of the lie.

1) They rarely reference themselves directly

2) They are overly negative

3) The lie is often simple because complex lies are hard to keep straight

4) But the phrasing is often convoluted

The examples in the video are great ones. From Bill Clinton, to Richard Nixon, to John Edwards, and Lance Armstrong. Worth a watch, and maybe you can spot a lie next time.


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