Anatomy of a Liar

One of the biggest factors of more autocratic governments is difficulty with the truth. Vladimir Putin, for example, may be the world’s most adroit liar. This is a key reason that the US President’s frequent problem with the truth give people concern over where the country is headed.

Looking at the anatomy of a liar, several things jump out. At the center of these untruthful leaders is a large ego that bristles at any kind of criticism. For this very reason, a liar tends to take credit for all things good and deflect blame to others for all things bad. Close to home, it is not uncommon for the US President to claim things he did not work on as “disasters” and things he did as “beautiful” or the “best ever.”

A favorite tactic of a liar is to keep things simple and repeat it over and over again. Using labels and calling people names are key parts of this strategy. When delivered with bombast, these lies seem very convincing. Smugness is also a common tactic to delivery. Smugness and bombast do not make you right, but unfortunately people are fooled by them. As for Trump, when he punctuates a thought with “believe me,” he is most likely lying.

In today’s news, several lies are jumping off the page. Saudi Arabia continues to come up with a changing storyline on the killing and dismembering of a reporter. Putin continues to deny strong evidence he tried to poison a former Russian agent on British soil and interfere in the 2016 US election. He also tried to interfere in the French election, but Macron’s people knew this and placed incorrect emails in the trove they stole to lessen the impact.

As for Trump, he lies everyday at a rate of more than 2 out of 3 statements per Politifacts. He is even worse at his pep rallies, where he lies 3 out of 4 times. I have long ago stopped believing anything Putin says. I also chose to do the same with Trump. To be trusted, one has to be trustworthy. And, therein lies the rub.


16 thoughts on “Anatomy of a Liar

  1. Excellent analysis. Yes, there are ‘tells’, such as the ones you mention that can tip us off to the lies of even the most experienced fabricators. In the case of both Trump and Putin, I am like you and find the simplest solution is not to believe a word that comes out of their mouths. A sad state of affairs, but it is where we are today.

    • Janis, not valuing relationships and treating everything as a transactional, even contentious issue, does not bode well. He views allies as adversaries rather than partners. He fails to realize that strong partners makes us safer and more profitable.

      I have worked with clients who try to milk every dollar out of you and I have worked with clients that value your relationship. You serve both well, but will go an extra mile for the latter. Keith

  2. Note to Readers: A leader who lies is fearful of informed questions. On “60 Minutes” the other day, the US President did not wait for Lesley Stahl to finish her questions. He wanted to answer what he wanted since he noted “I am President and you are not.” I don’t know how much truth spilled out. But, I do feel an interviewer has to question internally which lies should I challenge?

    If I were interviewer, I would not let him claim “fake news.” What I have observed is fake news means unflattering news to the President.

  3. Note to Readers: A couple of top of mind untruthful statements:
    – Trump said he did not mock Dr. Ford. Not true, not only did he mock her, he called all accusers of Kavanaugh evil.
    – Trump said the subsidies to insurers he ceased last year that repay them for a commitment to forego deductibles and co-pays for people making less than 2 1/2 times the poverty rate would only impact insurer profits. Not true, as the CBO said it would increase the deficit by $10 billion. Insurers honored the commitment, but raised premiums which increased the premium subsidies by the government. The real losers are people who do not get a premium subsidy as their premiums just go up.
    – The US pulled out of the TPP as Trump called it a disaster. Not true, while the TPP was imperfect, it was not a disaster. It would also have been a huge aid to pressure China as that was its intent – create better Asia-Pacific ties without them. Not ironically, the TPP went forward without us and was signed at the end of last year.

  4. Note to Readers: I want to focus on the action, rather than the person. With this in mind, when Donald Trump acts like a pathetic little man, he devalues himself, the US Presidency and our country. If I had one question to ask him as a reporter it would be this: Will you try to tell the truth more than you do not? of course, I would love a follow-up based on his expectant answer.

  5. Note to Readers: One of the reasons I left the Republican Party over ten years ago is a tendency to make things up. Abetted by Fox News and other outlets, Republicans found they could get away with being untruthful. Then along comes one of the more untruthful men any of us would ever know who parlayed this into becoming President. Now with the party devolving further to the party of Trump, there seems to be s no holds bar conspiratorial effort. This is beyond unnerving.

    Lying is bad enough. Setting policy off lying makes it worse. As an example the US President said during the campaign that he loved Saudi Arabia as he has made a lot of money off them. Now he says he does not have any business in Saudi Arabia. So, Mr. President, were lying then or lying now?

  6. Note to Readers: Tonight on PBS Newshour, the Washington bureau reporter for the Toronto Star discussed their tracking of the lying of the US President. Since in office, they have measured 2,915 lies, an average of four a day, which sounds about right.

    He noted that Trump has increased is rate of lying, not gotten more truthful. He also uses the term lies as he noted many of the statements are plain lies and should be called out. He noted the lies about the migrant caravan being started by the Dems and the criminals and terrorists migrating. He noted the lies about rioting in California against sanctuary cities.

    The sad truth is it does not matter to the Trump cult. His former economics Advisor called him a “professional liar”
    after witnessing one more lie. Yet, that does not matter. Keith

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