post written by: Marc Chernoff

Identify a Lie with 6 Simple Questions


We all fall victim to at least a few lies during the course of our lifetime.  Some lies may be extremely troublesome to our personal wellbeing, while other “white lies” may be far more innocuous.  Either way, a lie is meant to deceive.  So how can we avoid falling victim to a lie in the future?  I believe you can identify a lie or a liar by asking a person 6 simple questions:

A lie can travel halfway around the world
while the truth is putting on its shoes.

- Mark Twain

  1. How do you know this? - This is the very first question you should ask someone when they tell you something that you are unsure of.  It immediately uncovers the source of the information and should give insight into whether the bulk of it is based on scientific fact or educated opinion.  Although it seems like a very simple question, it is one of the most demanding questions you could ask someone.  It informs them that you are not a pushover and forces them to backup their claims.
  2. What are the major concerns or risks? - Anybody who has performed the proper research on a topic for which they claim to be an expert should also be able to explain their major concerns in vivid detail.  No plan is perfect.  There will always be some level of concern or risk.  If the person claims there is zero risk and no concerns, they are lying to you.
  3. Why do you think others might have an opposing view? - There are always a few different ways to interpret a specific set of data.  No matter what side of the argument a person is on, you can be sure that at least one other person has an opposing view.  Once again, if someone has done the proper research they should have a pretty good idea of what creates this opposing view.  Thus, they shouldn’t have any problem explaining it, even if their explanation is merely an educated hypothesis.
  4. Can you please explain this in layman’s terms? - A person might use complex terminology in order to sneak a lie past your better judgment.  The idea is that their complex terminology will throw you off, and instead of questioning the information, you move on to prevent yourself from looking naive.  Never look past something you don’t understand.  Get the facts straight.  Make them explain themselves 20 times if necessary until you understand what they are saying.  Until you understand the information, presume that they are wrong even if they sound smart.
  5. Do you mind if I sleep on it? - A lie, no matter how complex, is always paper thin from a certain angle.  If you have enough time to analyze the information and look at it from every angle you will eventually see the truth.  When someone lies and looks for you to buy into the information they usually want you to agree on the spot.  They already know that their story won’t check out if you have enough time to analyze it.  If someone is unwilling to let you sleep on the information in order to properly digest it, they are probably lying.  Truth will still be truth in the morning, so there is no reason to rush things unless it isn’t the truth.
  6. How confident am I in this person? - This is a simple question that you have to ask yourself.  You should try to determine if this person has any credible references.  Sort out the reasons why you should believe them and why you should not believe them.  Do you personally know anyone who has dealt with this person before?  Think about it mindfully, what does your gut instinct tell you?

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