Saturday, April 1, 2017

Quotes on lying

Robert A. Burton:

"As a lifelong poker player, I have spent considerable time developing a winning strategy, yet I am not a great player. I have long suspected a variety of flaws, but haven't figured out a clear solution. With the recent popularity of televised poker tournaments where the viewers can see the players' hole cards at the start of each hand, the problem has become transparent. The players with the best overall results are those who aggressively make selective large bluffs, a style with which I have never been entirely comfortable.

* * *

Trying to figure out what the other players have turns out to be of less value than just making the large bluff periodically."

Thomas S. Szasz:

It [the term "lying"] comes into play only when the assumption is made that the communicants have pledged themselves to truthfulness. Thus, the term "lying" can be used meaningfully only in situations in which the rules of the game prescribe truthfulness. This is often assumed in everyday human relationships, and especially in those which are emotionally close, such as in marriage and friendship. Perjury is a special kind of lying, committed in a court of law by a person giving testimony. Here the rules of the game are explicitly formulated; lying (perjury) is punishable by legally enforced sanctions.”

Lisa Kogan:

"Honesty is a delightful policy, but I'm here to tell you that without at least a few lies, Thanksgiving with the family would be a thing of the past, first dates would end faster than you can dismiss your biological clock with a jaunty "Que sera, sera... ," every political figure who intentionally linked Iraq with Osama bin Laden would be forced to resign in disgrace, and any number of plastic surgeons throughout the greater Los Angeles area would end their lives in the gutter holding large cardboard signs that read WILL BOTOX FOR FOOD.

* * * 

To this day, Julia believes that Toys "R" Us is only open when my parents visit Manhattan; the shelves are stocked as Grandma and Grandpa's plane touches down and the doors to the store lock as soon as they head back to Detroit.

Here is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth: My name is Lisa, and I am a liar, though a good marketing consultant could probably finesse the word into something a bit more palatable: "Reality Stylist" might be good, or "Pinocchiotologist" could work. My mother insists that, at the end of the day, what I am is a storyteller — and she might have a point.

Joan Didion says that "we tell ourselves stories in order to live." I think that's right. Forget what I tell cabdrivers for sport or dental hygienists for spin control or "Bambi" readers for peace of mind. It's the lies we tell ourselves that determine the particular arc of our stories."

M. Veera Pandiyan:

Liars, it seems, are wired differently from the rest of us. On the average they have between 22% and 26% more prefrontal white matter and 14% less grey matter.

The study by Dr Yaling Yang, from the psychology department of the USC, and psychology professor Dr Adrian Raine, who is now at University of Pennsylvania, used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to explore differences in brains among pathological liars, anti-social disorder personalities and those who were normal.

According to Dr Raine, more white matter provided liars with the tools necessary to master the complex art of deceit.

“Pathological liars can’t always tell truth from falsehood and contradict themselves in interviews. They are very brazen in terms of their manner, but very cool when talking about this.”

“Lying takes a lot of effort. It’s almost mind reading. You have to be able to understand the mindset of the other person.

“You also have to suppress your emotions or regulate them because you don’t want to appear nervous. There’s quite a lot to do there. You’ve got to suppress the truth,” Dr Raine was quoted as saying in a USC article after the study was published.

He said the more “networking” there was in the prefrontal cortex, the more the person had an upper hand in lying, adding that their verbal skills were higher and that they had a natural advantage.

In normal people, the grey matter helps to keep the impulse to lie in check. With the surplus of white matter and a deficit of grey matter, liars have more tools to lie and fewer moral restraints than normal people.

Sources

Robert A. Burton. On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2008. pp. 112-113.

Thomas S. Szasz. The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct. New York: Delta, 1961. p. 246.

"Lies are good for family and friends." Lisa Kogan. Oprah.com.  Sept. 5, 2008.

 

"Inside the Lying Brain." M. Veera Pandiyan. The Star (Malaysia). Aug. 28, 2008.

Quotes on perception and interpretation

Sen. J. William Fulbright:

“...people in different societies look at the same facts and "see" different things, that what they see, or think they see, is largely determined by what they expect to see.

The point is illustrated by an experiment in which a psychologist had two groups of schoolteachers, one Mexican, the other American, look into a device that simultaneously showed a picture of a bullfighter to one eye and a picture of a baseball player to the other. When asked what they had seen, most of the Mexicans said they had seen a bullfighter and most of the Americans said that they had seen a baseball player. Obviously, what each individual saw had a great deal to do with whether he was a Mexican or an American.”

Steven Lukes:

“He recalled James Thurber's encouraging thoughts about the strange pleasure of going blind. As one's eyesight fails, the role of the external world in fixing what one sees declines while that of interpretation increases, so you only have to be optimistic for women to be attractive, buildings to be elegant, the sun to shine.”

Tom Hayden:

"As Fritjof Capra pointed out in The Tao of Physics, the intellect in such Asian philosophy is a means to clear the way for the direct mystical experience of oneness, not a tool for endless filing of data."

Gary Zukav:

"During the Lebanese civil war, a story goes, a visiting American was stopped by a group of masked gunmen. One wrong word could cost him his life.
'Are you Christian or Moslem?' they asked.
'I am a tourist!' he cried.
The way that we pose our questions often illusorily limits our responses."

Sources

Sen. J. William Fulbright. The Arrogance of Power. New York: Vintage Books, 1966. p. 176.

Steven Lukes. The Curious Enlightenment of Professor Caritat. London, New York: Verso, 1995, reprinted 2000. p 2.

Tom Hayden. The Lost Gospel of the Earth: A Call for Renewing Nature, Spirit, and Politics. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1996. p. 169.

Gary Zukav. The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1979. p. 286.