Self-Deception Explain Lying Ease?

A July 30 New Scientist article (sub. rec.) on lying reports:

A succession of studies using tests like this have shown that most of us are not very good at spotting if someone is lying. Even people whose job it is to detect deception – police officers, FBI agents, therapists, judges, customs officers, and so on – perform, on average, little better than if they had taken a guess. … But a few people seem to be the exceptions that prove the rule. … In a range of studies that totalled about 14,000 people, … The researchers identified 29 “wizards” of deception detection, who are now the subject of intensive study … One of the studies, published last year, investigated women’s skills at detecting men who were pretending to have appealing attributes … a man claiming he owned the Ferrari outside, rather than admitting he had borrowed it from a friend for the night. … single women seemed to be better at detecting men who were faking good than those who were in a committed relationship. “Women have a kind of radar for deception in men, which they switch on or off, depending on the context.”

So sometimes we are bad at detecting lies because that serves our interests.  Tyler taught me the centrality of self-deception in human affairs, and so I wonder: could our need to be good at believing lies explain why we are surprisingly bad at detecting lies?  Are those wizards of lie detection the vanguard of a future humanity, or do they pay a high price in their relationships, finding it hard to support the  lies that fill daily life?


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