Saying Farewell to Telling Lies

Anastasia Retyunina
6 min readDec 5, 2021

Looking back at my previous posts, I feel the need to explain my feelings to you. The description of my condition in the headline of the 1st post now seems so shallow and plain, because only now I understand that even then, I already started understanding and realizing how much I fell in love with teaching at school, how much now I love those wonderful, pure, live kids with beautiful soul…and how much it hurts now to leave it all there, in the past. The truth is that I know I’m not going to come back there as I don’t want to stay in this city. But still I feel so grateful to all the teachers who helped me, who treated my as equal, to all those kids who were trying so hard to understand the topics, to be active during our classes and just show me how hard they can work…..everything there gave me a chance to understand what I like, what I truly enjoy, and I think this is the most important conclusion. This is one of the most precious experiences that I’ll never be able to forget. My heart, or at least a piece of it, will always stay there, with the kids.

Now, I would like to talk to you about my PR book. It’s already been 43 days since I started this marathon. I feel so fulfilled and happy with the results. As you probably understand from the title, I finished reading my book, and this will be the last post about it.

In my previous post I stopped on talking about russian mindset, and today I’ll briefly tell you about chapter 11 “New Findings and Ideas About Lying and Lie Catching” that was added by Paul Ekman’s group of scholars and the author himself only on the occasion of the publication of the third edition. First, he describes New Distinctions between lying and other forms of misinformation, for instance: the writer considers a failure to remember not a lie, because if forgetting truly occurs there is no choice involved. Though it’s interesting how controversial these lines sound:

If the person is not lying, if the person does not believe he is engaged in deception at the moment he is doing it, then I expect his demeanor will be that of a truthful person.

Also, Paul Ekman writes about misinterpretation, not always being a self-deception, to what I agree. Misinterpreting is not the only route by which someone may believe his or her false account is true. A person initially may realize that he is lying, but after repeating this lie for many times he may fall into believing it himself.

Then the author tells the readers about Motives for Lying. He lists 9 different motives that are not actually new, I think we all at some point know them. For example: to avoid punishment, to protect another person or avoid embarrassment.

It all leads us to New Results where Paul Ekman repeats the fact that detecting lies from demeanor is difficult, but when the stakes are high the detecting becomes better. Later the author explains it in detail with the help of examples based on their real-life experiments, as usual.

I was eager to find out why we can’t catch liars so easily, and it turned out that evolutionarily we are not prepared to be either good lie catchers or lie perpetrators. Moreover, there were listed more reasons, such as the fact that our parents do not teach us how to catch their lies and we, as people, prefer to trust rather than be suspicious. Paul Ekman later adds one more point — we often want to be misled, we collude in lie. As he summarizes his results in this part of research, he states that

…our ancestral environment did not prepare us to be astute lie catchers

However, in modern industrial societies the opportunities for lying are plentiful, as Paul Ekman says. That’s why lies became more common, as we live now in circumstances that encourage rather than discourage lying…

One thing in the twelfth chapter caught my attention, it was the appearance of micro expressions, it turned out that there might be 2 reasons of its occurrence: it may be the result of deliberate, conscious concealment or they can be a product of repression when a person is unaware of the feeling he is experiencing.

Then he told us that he actually had created a course or a training for people to learn how to spot micro-expressions and I was so amazed by this, I didn’t know it! Also Paul Ekman developed a training for subtle expressions as well! I consider it really hard to notice these tiny expressions, only professionals in my opinion are able to actually do it…but maybe I shouldn’t think it’s something unreal. It may be done step by step…

After referring to some cautions in detecting all kinds of expressions, the professor gives an example of a scene from one of my favorite TV show Lie To Me and on the basis of the first episode he explains what difficulty lays in interpreting the subtle expressions:

…the first issue is whether it is a sign of a slight emotion, a stronger emotion just beginning, or a fragment of an emotion the person is trying to hide.

In Epilogue he concludes his book and his research that he has done, and also states that this book would help more lie catchers rather than liars. The author also adds that probably our imperfect ability to lie is fundamental for our existence…Despite the moral values that are strong in my mind, I agree with this statement. Because while reading more and more I started reflecting on my life and on my past and noticed how many times IN REALITY I lied covering it unconsciously, I guess self-deception for me is not a rare thing. So now I force myself to accept reality and face the truth rather than to just close my eyes and be misled by my own lies…

About lie catching, I think it’s an exciting thing to you on your own, without telling the person you recognized some expressions and know he is lying…as I agree with this phrase “lie catching violates privacy” I do not wish to make a person uncomfortable…

I really liked how Paul Ekman ended this book:

We are neither transparent as the infant nor perfectly disguised. We can lie or be truthful, spot deceit or miss it, be misled or know the truth. We have a choice; that is our nature.

So, I guess I definitely will come back to this book, as I might have missed out some information, or facts concerning history and politics…In general, I can say that I liked this experience even if it was hard at some moments, I really appreciate the opportunity and the fact that I’ve made this choice.

And now, some bits of vocabulary that I came across:

  • allege — to say that someone has done something illegal or wrong without giving proof
  • subsume — to include something or someone as part of a larger group
  • to perpetrate (a lie) — to commit a crime or a violent or harmful act
  • validity — the quality of being based on truth or reason, or of being able to be accepted
  • unmitigated — complete, often describing something bad or unsuccessful that has no good or positive points
  • fluke — something that happens, usually something good, that is the result of chance instead of skill or planning
  • confer — to exchange ideas on a particular subject, often in order to reach a decision on what action to take
  • adept (at spotting) — having a natural ability to do something that needs skill
  • collude (in the lie) — to work together secretly especially in order to do something illegal or dishonest
  • err on the side of — to be especially careful rather than taking a risk or making a mistake
  • impending — used to refer to an event, usually something unpleasant or unwanted, that is going to happen soon
  • entail — to make something necessary, or to involve something
  • feign — to pretend to have a particular feeling, problem, etc.
  • adrift — If a person is adrift, they do not have a clear purpose in life or know what they want to do

Thank you!!!