Every time Tallulah knocks a year off her age, I have to, too. I'm not sure how long I can keep it up.
If a person can see two hands on a surface, one their own, and the other a false hand, they will feel both hands being stroked even when they know that one of the hands is a rubber one.
The rubber hand illusion is an example of ‘neuroplasticity’ – the brain’s ability to change and adapt as a result of new experiences. To convince the brain that the rubber hand is an extension of our body, our senses of vision and touch combine with our senses of time and space to override what the brain previously ‘knew’.
In the experiment, the brain (specifically, the area of the frontal lobes called the pre-motor-cortex) temporarily re-wires itself to adopt the rubber hand as its own. Amazingly, it even works when you can’t see it: in 2005, the rubber hand experiment was shown to work equally well with a blindfolded participant. After about 10 seconds, he believed he was stroking his own hand.
The rubber hand illusion has been extended to a whole body swap, using video to convince people they've changed identities with a mannequin.
Tony Blair claimed he stowed away on a plane from Newcastle to the Bahamas when he was 14. That flight route's never existed.
The brain has a mental ‘map’ of the body from birth. This can be fooled, as in the rubber hand illusion, but can also be surprisingly hard to alter. 60-80% of amputees suffer from ‘phantom limb syndrome’ where they can still feel an absent limb, often in the form of pain.
The opposite of phantom limb syndrome is a brain disorder called somatoparaphrenia, where a patient denies the existence of an arm or a leg, even when they can see it in front of them. More extreme still is hemispatial neglect, which causes complete loss of awareness of one half of the body. Sufferers will eat food from only one half of the plate, or apply make up to only one half of their face.
Because the nose, like the genitals, contains erectile tissue, it really does grow when we lie.
Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus), pretend to have a broken wing when their chicks are threatened. At the first sign of danger, they make loud alarm calls and twist and flap their wings to lure predators away from the nest in what's called a ‘distraction display’. This has earned the bird a bad reputation. Its ancient Greek name was polyplagktos, 'luring on deceitfully'. In Parlemeent of Foules, Chaucer refers to 'The false lapwynge, ful of treacherye'. His contemporary John Gower calls them 'the bird falsest of all', Caxton describes them as 'foul and villainous' and Shakespeare has the womanising Lucio in Measure for Measure 'seem the lapwing'. 17th century prostitutes were known as plovers and the collective noun for lapwings is a 'deceit'.
The word 'lapwing' comes from Old English hleapewince, meaning ‘leaper-totterer’. It has more surviving vernacular names than any other British bird. Peewit and Green Plover are the most common, but others are: Thievnick, Thievnig, Ticks Nicket, Tieve's Nacket , Pie-wipe, Chewit, Tuefit, Toppyup, Peasiewheep, Teeick, Teeack, Teeo, Teewhup, Tewhuppo, Wallock, Wallop, Wallopie Wep, Horneywink, Horny wick, Hornpipe and Hornpie.
If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.
Pathological liars have on average more white matter and less grey matter than people who are not serial fibbers.
The 'what the hell' effect was coined by Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at Duke University in North Carolina. It describes how, once someone has overcome their initial reluctance to cheat, subsequent dishonest behaviour gets easier.
In one test, Ariely and his colleagues asked college students to solve maths puzzles for cash rewards. When the students believed the examiner couldn’t see them cheating, the average self-reported test score rose significantly. The scores were not inflated by a few students cheating a lot, but by many students cheating a little. Ariely says cheating is 'infectious.' When rule bending is widespread, people decide that it is OK.
Ariely found that people who score higher on psychological tests for creativity are more likely to engage in dishonesty. His theory is that creative individuals are better at self-deception and have more inventive rationalizations for cheating. This suggests that human creativity and intelligence might have arisen alongside our ability to deceive.
A 1986 US study found that 80% of drivers evaluate themselves as ‘above average’ skill. This is called the ‘above average’ or ‘illusory superiority’ effect. It is perhaps exacerbated by the ‘bias blind spot’ which causes people to believe that they are less susceptible to bias than other people, so even when they’re told that 80% of people rate themselves as above average, most people continue to rate themselves as above average, whilst also stating that they are below average for the tendency to overrate themselves.
In general, people overrate themselves. In a review of several studies for The Psychologist in 2006, David Dunning, a Professor of Psychology at Cornell University in New York, revealed that most of us think we’re better than we are at things like donating to charity, voting, maintaining a successful relationship, volunteering for unpleasant lab experiments and co-operating with others when money is at stake.
Curiously, although people overrate themselves they tend to be roughly accurate in rating the performance of their peers.
Clinton lied. A man might forget where he parks or where he lives, but he never forgets oral sex, no matter how bad it is.
According to a 2010 Toronto University study, toddlers who tell lies early on are more likely to do well in later life.
Koko, a gorilla who communicated with sign language, once tore a steel sink off the wall and told her handlers that the cat had done it.
Nim Chimpsky the chimp used to skive sign-language lessons by signing that he needed to go to the toilet when he didn’t.
Violent criminals typically rate themselves as more moral, kinder, more self-controlled, and more honest than the average person.