2 weeks after

Anastasia Retyunina
6 min readNov 28, 2021

It feels so sad and disappointing…I didn’t expect it to be so hard to combine my regular schedule with teaching at school. I feel not even exhausted, but just with no energy left. It was hard for me to even do these three tasks on my schedule (Memrise, PR and Japanese practise) but I’m really glad that in spite of the lack of energy I still find time for such at first glance simple things. That’s why being so down in the dumps I couldn’t even think about writing posts…but I feel obliged to share all the exciting knowledge with you!

So here I start! As I’ve been reading “Telling Lies”, I’ve been learning many new things. In my last post I stopped on talking about the polygraph. In the end of that chapter Paul Ekman compares the work of the polygraph and behavioral clues to deceit. He comes to the conclusion that the polygraph can only be used with a cooperative suspect, while behavioral clues can always be read without permission, without a suspected liar knowing he is under suspicion. The power of behavior clues to deceit cannot be tricked. However, he states:

The only suggestion about what should always be con- sidered in trying to decide which risks to take is never reach a final conclusion about whether a suspect is lying or truthful based solely on either the polygraph or behavioral clues to deceit.

In the next chapters, the author brings up the topic of “Lie Checking”. There he compares the types of liars on the example of Mary and Ruth(they were used as an example in the beginning of the book and throughout the chapters) and a head-hunter Sara. It was quite exciting to read his analyses based on their difference of behavior, previous experience, practice and the initial idea of a lie.

Then the writer started giving examples of political cases when politicians were accused of lying. It was actually useful for me, as I don’t know anything about political figures and cases that took place in the 20th century.

It was really surprising that he used many Soviet Union examples in the following chapters. For instance, this quote of Stalin:

“[A] diplomat’s words must have no relations to actions — otherwise what kind of diplomacy is it? . . . Good words are a concealment of bad deeds. Sincere diplomacy is no more possible than dry water or iron wood.”

I find these words controversial, however there is truth in them…

It’s also important to mention that during political meetings with the heads of different countries there can be misunderstanding or mistakes in spotting a lie. Paul Ekman proves this idea in the statement: “One reason is that their conversation was through translators. This offers the liar two advantages over direct conversation. If he makes any verbal mistakes — slips, pauses that are too long, or speech errors — the translator can cover them.” I’ve never actually thought about it, but it makes sense that as native speakers perceive the language they may be confused listening to the translated version from a different language or a simplified speech of a foreigner speaking their language. It gives an opportunity not to be caught lying.

Then in the chapter the writer analyses the case that happened during the Cuban missile crisis, when the president Kennedy was about to meet Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko. I’ll not tell you about it in detail, but I was so engaged in reading this part, because the author explained in detail the facts and behavior of politicians.

I wanted to write the conclusion of this chapter in my own words, but Paul Ekman’s patent and explicit explanation cannot be rewritten better than it is.

This chapter has shown that whether or not deceit suc- ceeds does not depend upon the arena. It is not that all spousal deceits fail or that all business, criminal, or international deceits succeed. Failure or success depends upon the particulars of the lie, the liar, and the lie catcher.

In the following chapter that is called “Lie Catching in the 1990s” the author overall speaks about the same examples of political case, such as Hitler’s lies, to which Chamberlain believed. Then he explains who can catch a liar, spotting lies in the courtroom where the fear of being disbelieved can be misinterpreted as a guilty person’s fear of being caught. then he provides an example to the topic on the Pointdexter’s testimony and makes a conclusion.

As well as in two previous chapters in the chapter “Lies in Public” Paul Ekman speaks about political cases connected with both the USA and other countries. But the most interesting thing that he leads us to, is self-deception. As he states “In self-deceit the person does not realize that he is lying to himself. And the person does not know his own motive for deceiving himself. Self-deception occurs, I be- lieve, much more rarely than it is claimed by a culpable person to excuse, after the fact, his wrong actions.” I agree with the author that self-deception actually is quite a tricky thing, because it doesn’t allow a person to detect a lie.

Moreover I really liked this profound thought about liars who are used to lying:

I believe that the more often anyone tells a lie, the easier it becomes to do so. Each time a lie is repeated there is less consideration about whether it is right to engage in the deceit. After many repetitions, the liar may become so com- fortable with the lie that he no longer takes note of the fact that he is lying.

To the end of the 10th chapter Paul Ekman brought up such an overwhelming topic that made me think for hours. He started raising a theme of “A Country of Liars” and as an example served Russia. At first I was glad to hear about our country, but by the end of his speech, as I call it, I was speechless, I didn’t know what to think and what to do. He explained the situation that happened at the time of the collapse of the USSR, he said he was astonished by how frank the citizens were, how they scolded the government and expressed their feelings. Then he wrote about the disastrous nuclear accident that happened in Chernobyl and how the government lied to the country and jeopardized a lot of people’s life and future. It was not new to me, but his words made me feel disappointed and depressed as he explained that if the government apologized to the citizens or took at least some actions, people would not expect from the government lies and deception. His words about our nation were so painful, but truthful:

For decades Soviets learned that to achieve anything they had to bend and evade the rules. It became a country in which lying and cheating were normal, where everyone knew the system was corrupt and the rules unfair, and survival required beating the system.

I think that even if we live in contemporary Russia, it’s still the same. Our mindset can not be changed quickly and I wonder whether the situation will ever change…

As a conclusion to my thought I’d like to quote the author again.

No important relationship survives if trust is totally lost.

During the Iran-Contra Congressional hearings, Congressman Lee Hamilton chastised Oliver North with a quotation from Thomas Jefferson: “The whole art of gov- ernment consists in the art of being honest.”

Paul Ekman’s words sound not real to me. Maybe here speaks the russian mentality, that again proves his point of view. But I still want to believe that politics can be an honest and trustworthy thing at least in the future….

That’s all for now. As usuall I’d like to share some new words with you:

  • deterrence — the action or the fact of deterring people from doing something
  • deputy — a person who is given the power to do something instead of another person, or the person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organization
  • rationale — the reasons or intentions that cause a particular set of beliefs or actions
  • embark on a lie — to start something new or important (in this case a lie)
  • exonerated — to show or state that someone or something is not guilty of something
  • ample — more than enough
  • blatant — ​​very obvious and intentional, when this is a bad thing
  • collude — to act together secretly or illegally in order to deceive or cheat someone
  • asset — a useful or valuable quality, skill, or person
  • dastardly — evil and cruel
  • repudiated — to refuse to accept something or someone as true, good, or reasonable
  • plebiscite — a referendum
  • demeanor — a way of looking and behaving
  • entice — to persuade someone to do something by offering them something pleasant
  • vigilance -more careful attention, especially in order to notice possible danger
  • crows-feet wrinkles — Crow’s feet is the term used to describe the fine lines and wrinkles found at the outer corners of your eyes.
  • wisecrack — a funny remark, especially one that criticizes someone
  • akin — having some of the same qualities
  • poignant (pepl) — causing or having a very sharp feeling of sadness

Thank you for your time!