Self-reported Lies of Lying Liars

Gucci Little Piggy cites a study on lying in which Science Proves that men lie more frequently than women. Examination of the study suggests the opposite of its putative results, if anything. It’s like the old logic puzzles where one of your interlocutors always lies and the other always tells the truth.

Say we have groups P and Q, and that we somehow know that members of group P lie significantly more often than the members of group Q. If you survey these groups on how often they tell lies, which do you expect to report accurately? Unless you expect the liars’ group to refrain from lying on surveys, you should assume that the liars will lie about how often they lie.

Such a survey may result in three general outcomes:

1) Group P claims more lies than Group Q
2) P == Q
3) P < Q

I think these assumptions are warranted:

A) Group P under-reports the amount of lying
B) P’s motive in doing so is to lay claim to socially acceptable behavior, not merely to mitigate a high lie-frequency

On those assumptions, Outcome 1 would require Group P to have an upwardly-skewed perception of how much lying is considered acceptable. Now, liars may believe that others lie as much as themselves, but I think they are quite aware of the extent to which lying is socially tolerated. Call that assumption C. Thus if A, B, and C hold, Outcome 1 is not plausible.

Outcomes 2 and 3 are plausible by these assumptions. With a further assumption, Outcome 3 becomes the most likely:

D) Liars who lie about their lying will claim greater honesty than necessary

The short version is that liars may be expected to claim to be more honest than the honest will claim for themselves.

Now, if groups P and Q lie with the same frequency, you might see a difference in their self-reported frequency based on differing calibrations of social acceptability. Another variable here could be a difference in the proclivity of each group to lie when anonymous, which I suppose to be related to the extent to which the members of the group lie to convince themselves.

Therefore, if a survey shows that Group Q lies significantly more often than Group P, these are plausible causes:

* P & Q have similar frequencies, but P has a lower assessment of what is socially acceptable
* P & Q have similar frequencies, but Q is more willing to accurately self-report in anonymous situations
* P actually lies more frequently than Q, and P lies about lying

I reject as a plausible cause the linear explanation: that Q lies more than P. We are discussing relative rates of lying about lying, after all.

The aforementioned Science Proves It! survey, however, reports that men lie 3 times a day, and women only 2. Statistical significance be damned; a difference of two or three lies per day is trivial and uninteresting. We are, thank Odysseus, free to continue with the prejudice that women lie more than men.

I have refrained from introducing some further factors until now because they pertain to the sanity of the individuals.

1) the person is not aware of consciously and intentionally lying, while still perpetrating falsehoods.
2) the person consciously and intentionally lies, but has an extremely poor model of social norms.
3) the person consciously and intentionally lies, understands and can imitate social normality, and simply does not care. This is psychopathy as depicted in The Mask of Sanity.

In my experience, (1) is the base experience of most females. Even fairly well-tamed women do this. The subconscious has some sort of interrupt routine whereby it can pause the consciousness, emit an egregious falsehood, and yield control back to the consciousness, which does not recognize that anything out of the ordinary has occurred.

(2) is characterized more by the extreme poverty of the social model than by the willingness to lie. In Vox Day’s socio-sexual hierarchy, (2) is the experience of the Sigma or Omega when practicing to deceive.

(3) is outright freakishly weird. You should read the case studies in The Mask of Sanity. The author’s tentative attempt at explaining the behavior of the subjects is interesting, but not necessary, and I recommend skipping over any of his attempts to elucidate until after you’ve read all the case studies.

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Filed under Feral Females, Reason

2 responses to “Self-reported Lies of Lying Liars

  1. Pingback: Linkage is Good for You: Blah Blah Blah Edition

  2. uh

    Another … attenuating factor we ought to explore …. is that men lie more about themselves, women about others:

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