A Checkup from the Neck Up


Very good article this morning by a social psychologist who studies lying—a lyologist?—titled I study liars. I’ve never seen one like President Trump.

Turns out that normal people lie, on average, once or twice a day (though the average figure is a little misleading, because some lie a lot more than others).

For Trump it’s at least six times a day, and increasing in frequency with each passing day.

Normal people sometimes lie to be kind. More often, they lie to gain some advantage—e.g., when a sales person lies to make a sale. Occasionally they lie just to entertain. In a very small percentage of cases—two percent or fewer of their lies—normal people lie to be cruel.

Trump occasionally lies to be kind, but his self-serving lies exceed his kind lies by 660 percent.  But

the most stunning way Trump’s lies differed from our participants, though, was in their cruelty. An astonishing 50 percent of Trump’s lies were hurtful or disparaging.

As another recent article indicates, Trump views his goal is to win each day’s news cycle by defeating an enemy in the reality TV show that plays out in his mind.

And are Trump’s lies believed?

It turns out that we humans have a bias toward believing others, even when we shouldn’t. But

by telling so many lies, and so many that are mean-spirited, Trump is violating some of the most fundamental norms of human social interaction and human decency. Many of the rest of us, in turn, have abandoned a norm of our own — we no longer give Trump the benefit of the doubt that we usually give so readily.

When a liar thinks that his lies are self-serving but he lies so frequently and so blatantly that the lies defeat their purpose, that liar badly needs a check up from the neck up.