Thursday, February 19, 2009
Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics
"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."
Thus spake Benjamin Disraeli, and Mark Twain liked the phrase so much that he immortalized it in his Chapters from My Autobiography in 1907.
Mothers know there are all sorts of lies. The lies we hear and the lies we tell. How often have you said "I'm not angry because you did x. I'm angry because you lied about it."
Be honest. You're angry about both. But the lying does make you mad in a different sort of way.
Portland Tribune published a thoughtful piece recently in response to the uproar over Mayor Sam Adams fallacious (fellatious?) statements. You’re a Liar! (But aren’t we all?) Profound lies and little fibs gain public acceptance provides some pretty interesting food for thought.
My family and I've become addicted to a new television show, Lie to Me. I'm surprisingly crazy about Tim Roth, the actor who plays the lead. I'm pretty confident my friend Rachel Fox would categorize him as another of those not conventionally good looking guys. But he is compelling. He mesmerizes in an understated way. I find him oddly babe-licious.
The premise is that non-verbal clues can identify liars. That we involuntarily give ourselves away. It's not a foolproof science. But it is often accurate to analyze and judge based on micro facial expressions, shrugs, and countless other body language gestures. The scripts are exceptionally well written, with interesting characters and ongoing subplots. Illustrative photos of real world liars (Clinton protesting he "did not have sex with that woman," Sarah Palin saying, well, anything) are fascinating.
In one of the episodes, Roth's character Cal Lightman is dealing with his teenaged daughter, who has lied to him. Later, one of his colleagues tells her that her father knew she was lying but he didn't challenge her because he didn't think he should do that each time she tried to conceal something. You can see the clip for yourself at the entry dated February 4th, “A Perfect Score” - Kids Lie to Parents? And if you're feeling really ambitious, check out the newsletter mentioned below the clip. Lie To Me's scientific advisor Paul Ekman, Ph.D., breaks down the real science in each episode. Billed as "the world's foremost expert on facial expressions," he offers some advice to parents on what to consider when they suspect their child is lying.
Hmm. Interesting. As parents, we usually expect full disclosure from our children, but as healthy (in other words, not Norman Bates) adult children, we understand that sometimes we not only desire, but require privacy about our affairs from our parents' scrutiny. When do we make that transition, where it's acceptable not to have to tell the folks all our bidness?
Tell me what you think.
But please don't lie to me.