Lie? Why not? Everyone does it, don’t they?
We have many words for lies: white lies, fudging, fibs, whoppers, but what is at the heart of each is knowingly substituting a different version of the facts for what we know is the truth. Sometimes, like with Wells Fargo and Bernie Madoff, the lies result in substantial financial gain for the liar and substantial loss for the victim.
What propels someone to lie so extravagantly or, even, at all?
Studies show that the big whoppers evolve from the littlest of lies: our brain changes as we lie, making us more and more willing to tell bigger and bigger lies:
A new study claims to provide the first empirical evidence showing that dishonesty gradually increases over time. By using scans that measured the brain’s response to lying, researchers saw that each new lie resulted in smaller and smaller neurological reactions ― especially in the amygdala, which is the brain’s emotional core.
In effect, each new fib appeared to desensitize the brain, making it easier and easier to tell more lies.
This is alarming, not just because it can lead to widespread fraud but also because a liar begins to live in an alternate reality. Over time, people can begin to believe the lies they tell themselves and others, putting them in a position where their beliefs just don’t square with the world they’re living in. They are constantly confronted with the disconnect between their altered reality and reality itself, leading to greater and greater anger and frustration. Sometimes those lies are self-delusional, leading people to never adequately address and progress beyond their own problems. In short, lies lead to fragmentation, discord, breach of trust, chaos.
Now, truth doesn’t always lead to harmony. Some truths lead to a road of very hard work, reconciliation, and compromise. But at the heart of telling the truth is an increase in trust which is the glue that binds a couple, a family, a community, a country, and is necessary for any true progress.