The Power of Ideas: When We’re Lied to From 10 to 200 Times Daily, How to Spot a Liar

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Uma Hiremath
By Uma Hiremath
INE TED Columnist

BOSTON–Lies.

What does that word evoke in you? Something negative, to be avoided, to be feared, reprehensible; in short, a moral judgement.

In this intriguing 19-minute TED talk, author Pamela Meyerapproaches lying more behaviorally, as an age-old and integral part of human interaction.

The first half of the talk sets out how we are all liars. Even babies quickly learn to fake-cry to achieve their ends. Koko, the gorilla who learned sign language, pinned the blame for a sink ripped out of the wall on his tiny pet kitten. Lies are a complexly sanctioned part of communication.

Spotting them in a world that is increasingly “post-truth” is a trained responsibility. The second half, on “How To Spot A Liar” is probably what has attracted over 18 million viewers and catapulted this 2011 talk as one of the 15 most popular TED talks of all time.

Liespotting is not easy, but it is possible. Oversharing via social media is not equivalent to honesty. However, being more explicit about our chosen moral codes is a definitive way to signal against a culture of lying and collaborating in a lie.

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