Currently viewing the tag: "lies"

The ability to deceive someone by telling the truth is not only possible, it has a name — paltering — it’s common in negotiations and those who palter can do serious harm to their reputations, according to research published by the American Psychological Association…

Paltering is used by politicians commonly, according to Rogers. “Politicians often palter when the truthful answer to a question would be harmful,” he said. “When candidates get questions they don’t want to hear, they often focus on continuing to make truthful statements, but try to mislead listeners.”

One famous example Rogers cited was when President Bill Clinton said “there is not a sexual relationship” between him and former White House intern Monica Lewinski. The Starr commission later discovered that there had been a sexual relationship but it had ended months before Clinton made that statement — thus, it was technically true but clearly misleading. –Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Use a scene in which paltering is used to skate consequences of a previous decision.

Journaling Prompt: How do you feel about politicians paltering?

Art Prompt: Paltering

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the problem with paltering and how it allows politicians to maneuver behind the scene.

Photo Credit: National Constitution Center on Flickr


Two contractors working for the Drug Enforcement Agency in Bogota, Colombia, have just pleaded guilty to a bizarre kidnapping hoax. Nydia Perez and John Soto, a married couple, had sent emails and packages to their superiors at the American embassy in Colombia, supposedly written by anonymous child-abductors, describing a plot to kidnap their own small children. The letters described the threat to the kids, and included photos of the children “engaged in various everyday activities in order to enhance the seriousness of the threat,” according to court documents. When the FBI got involved, Perez implicated their doorman. The whole time, there was no threat to the kids at all; the hoax was an elaborate lie. -Lauren Kirchner

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story that revolves around a false kidnapping threat.

Journaling Prompt: What is the worse lie anyone ever told you? What made it the worst?

Art Prompt: Kidnapping hoax

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the story of a famous hoax.

Photo Credit: Flood G/a> on Flickr


Humans had to cooperate early in their evolution in order to survive. But what’s one really great way to secure other people’s cooperation? As anybody who has ever watched Survivor knows, it’s by deceiving other people about what your real intentions are. As the authors of a study published earlier this year in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B put it, “Tactical deception, the misrepresentation of the state of the world to another individual, may allow cheaters to exploit conditional cooperation by tactically misrepresenting their past actions and/or current intentions.” Lies are one pillar of our greatest altruistic creation as a species, cooperation. –Annalee Newitz and Joseph Bennington-Castro

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story or scene using this information about lying and cooperation

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time when you’ve used a lie to get cooperation from others, or write about a time when someone else did this to you.

Art Prompt: Cooperation and Lies

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about cooperation and the various motivations that drive it.

Photo Credit: Kong SG on Flickr

Top Secret

The team [at Carnegie Mellon] recruited 62 adults who admitted they were keeping a life-altering secret and were willing to, as before, share a year’s worth of emails, including some from before they acquired their dirty laundry. More than half of the adults said the secret was of a romantic or sexual nature, with other major categories being “family,” “mental health,” “job” and “legal.” As in the depression study, overall these people wrote more, longer emails after they acquired their secret than before. When writing to people relevant to their secret, however, these individuals used more deceptive language, more negative emotion words and fewer words such as “I” and “me.” –Sanda Upson

Fiction Writing Prompt: Add to your character sketch. What is your protagonist lying about and why? What will happen if the truth comes to light?

Journaling Prompt: Write about a secret that you are keeping. How does it affect your communication with people whose respect you want?

Art Prompt: Lying

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Write about how keeping secrets affects clear communication and give some strategies for becoming more transparent.

Photo Credit: Malakhi Helel on Flickr

…in general, people are more likely to lie when time is short. When time isn’t a concern, people may only lie when they have justifications for doing so.
“One implication of the current findings is that to increase the likelihood of honest behavior in business or personal settings, it is important not push a person into a corner but rather to give him or her time,” explains Shalvi. “People usually know it is wrong to lie, they just need time to do the right thing.” –Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Put your protagonist into a situation where the time pressure forces him or her to lie.

Journaling Prompt: Do you tell the truth under pressure, or do you feel justified in lying.

Art Prompt: Liar

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Write about the conditions under which honest people will lie and how employers can encourage and reward honesty.

Photo Credit: Z S on Flickr
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…you can never understand another person’s illusions—even if that person happens to be a wife or husband. No matter what you try to say, they cling to their version of the truth with a fervor that mystifies and infuriates you. But you will not realize until later that it is the only defense against a truth that would undermine everything of which they have become convinced. Once they embrace the lie, nothing you can say or do is going to shift them away from the truth they have created. The lie becomes the truth. -R.P. McCabe, Betrayed

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about a character who embraces a lie as truth.

Journaling Prompt: Write about someone close to you who you think has embraced a lie.

Art Prompt: Delusion

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Write about a popular delusion you feel is affecting society.

Photo Credit: narghee-la on Flickr


canard: A false or misleading report or story, especially if deliberately so.

Fiction Writing Prompt: Use the word of the week in a story, scene, or poem.

Journaling Prompt: What is the biggest lie anyone has ever told you?

Art Prompt: Canard

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Write about the use of canards in today’s society.

Photo Credit: Dyanna Hyde on Flickr

The diary of a psychopath, day 1 (#15/365)

Psychopaths used more conjunctions like “because,” “since” or “so that,” implying that the crime “had to be done” to obtain a particular goal. They used twice as many words relating to physical needs, such as food, sex or money, while non-psychopaths used more words about social needs, including family, religion and spirituality. Unveiling their predatory nature in their own description, the psychopaths often included details of what they had to eat on the day of their crime.

Past as prologue: Psychopaths were more likely to use the past tense, suggesting a detachment from their crimes, say the researchers. They tended to be less fluent in their speech, using more “ums” and “uhs.” The exact reason for this is not clear, but the researchers speculate that the psychopath is trying harder to make a positive impression, needing to use more mental effort to frame the story. –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write a monologue by a psychopath explaining their crime using the language cues above.

Journaling Prompt: Write about something that you feel guilty about.

Art Prompt: Criminal

Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Write about the psychopaths that are around us in everyday life.

Photo Credit: Sebastian Anthony on Flickr

DIY Lightbox Practice-2  - VoxEfx

…was Shakespeare, so monumentally astute about human emotion, wrong to portray Lady Macbeth as unable to wash the metaphoric blood from her hands? The authors’ research suggests she might have had the wrong body part in the soapy water. In one experiment, participants were induced to tell a malicious lie either by email or voice mail. Afterwards, those who had lied “by mouth” evaluated a mouthwash more highly than a hand sanitizer, while those who transgressed “by hand” showed the opposite preference. –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write a scene showing what your character does to try to assuage the guilty after lying.

Journaling Prompt: How do you handle your guilt after you lie?

Art Prompt: Washing away guilt

Photo Credit: vox_efx on Flickr



Sometimes you just get a gut feeling.

She did not know why she had lied, but she was sure it was a wise decision. -Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Trilogy)

Writing Prompt: Continue the story. What situation was she in and what were the consequences of the lie?

Journaling Prompt: When have you lied because it felt unsafe to tell the truth? How did you feel about it? What happened because of the lie?

Art Prompt: Lie

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a humorous story about a time you lied to protect yourself and how it backfired.

Photo Credit: bandita on Flickr