How to Spot a Liar




Introduction: How to Spot a Liar

About: I believe that the purpose of life is to learn how to do our best and not give in to the weaker way.

In a world of seductive scams, our sanity depends upon our ability to recognize lies. To enhance this ability, we must learn new ways of perceiving the world and strive for higher standards of honesty than are currently popular.

You should not believe anything that is in this instructable. If you are a searching person, you will eventually see that the patterns contained in the following steps can be verified. If you take the time and effort to investigate, you can see for yourself if these explanations and examples fit the real world.
Mere belief will not do. To verify the truth of anything that is said or written, you must see it and understand it before you can use it. You must live it before you can learn it.

To make it perfectly clear, this instructable is not about detecting liars only when you are face to face with them. If you want to learn about face-reading and micro-expressions (the brief expressions on a persons face that reveal their true reaction), there is an excellent book on this called: Unmasking the Face. It is available at

If you are interested in learning to spot a liar with body language, a good online source is here.

Many lies are to be found on the radio, in the news, or in written form, where you cannot see the person in question. This instructable is about the psychology of lies and the methods, techniques and arguments that liars often use. When you begin to see and remember these often repeated patterns, you can begin to learn how to spot a liar that is not in front of you.

Right now, most of humanity is under the domination of tyrants. In China, Russia, Cuba, Africa, and other parts of the world, tangible tyrants continue to rule. In all of the other countries, tyrants without a face, unseen forces, work behind the scenes to manipulate, indoctrinate, and obfuscate. It is the proliferation of lies and the willingness of people to accept lies, that makes this possible.

Step 1: What Is a Lie?

A lie is designed to create a separation between Reality and what we think or feel. Occasionally, a lie is so obvious that anyone can easily see through the sham. But more often than not, a lie is so subtle or diabolically clever that uncovering it requires an uncommon detachment. This objective point of view becomes impossible if there is any greed on the part of the looker. Those who desire what is being offered (money, acceptance, beauty, flattery) more than they want the truth will easily fall victim to a lie.

We rarely see a situation for what it is. Instead, what we mainly see is our reaction to the situation. We see the associations that are triggered by the situation. A person who is cold looks at a tree and sees a source of firewood. Someone who is hot looks at the same tree and sees cooling shade. Our view of the world is limited, obscured, and distorted by our thoughts and emotions. This is important. What we think and feel sometimes does not clarify our view--but blocks it.

To see and know what is a lie and what is not, you must first see clearly your own willingness to accept certain kinds of lies.

Step 2: Advertising Lies

When we look at the impressive and clever shenanigans of the marketing and advertising industry, we cannot help but be impressed. If we look past the greed and hypocrisy that makes the ads exaggerated and ridiculous, we cannot deny that they are effective. They captivate us, mesmerize us and entertain us. And so they sell things--in large quantities. It doesn't matter if what is sold is good for people or immoral or even defective. Anything can be sold if the right impression is made. This is the essential point that the people in marketing have not missed. Anything can be sold as long as we, their target audience, are willing to drift far enough away from the truth.

The liar, be he adman or politician, spends much of his time creating good associations to his lie. Buy his product and you will look sexier, smarter, richer, and all the rest. He wants you to associate his lie with something good that you hope to get. He knows what you want and finds ways to associate the acceptance of his lie with what you want. If you did not get caught up in the pleasant and exciting associations he creates, you could not fall for such a lie. You would see that what the liar says does not fit with what you truly know about the world.

"Half the truth is often a great lie."

Step 3: Expert Liars

Our society has the highest respect for those who spent the better part of their lives in school learning how to make the simple--complex and the complex--incomprehensible. The doctors and lawyers, politicians and tax collectors; they make the rules and explanations intentionally confusing. Its not that they can't make their rules simpler and easier to understand--they don't want to. They want you confused and frustrated and so far removed from your common sense that you will submit to any bureaucratic enlargement or the next volume of indecipherable regulations.

They want you dependent on them for an interpretation of just exactly what the rules and terminology mean. They want you to look to them for answers. Then, what is right and wrong can be decided according to their dictates. They want to be the final judges of what is honest or legal or healthy. They can then redefine it quarterly. This is the secret of how they obtain their power. This is how they continue to slowly gain control over your work and your life.

Can we learn from experts? Of course. They have their uses. Do they have the solutions that will get to the core of our problems? It would appear not. After centuries of following their theories and their solutions, we still have large numbers of the ignorant, the criminal, the unhealthy, the insane, the poor and the lazy.

All people eventually try to become experts. Some become technical experts, medical experts, or educational experts. There are even cuprolite and lingerie experts. Some are experts at shirking, stealing, or lying. Still others are experts at teaching experts or criticizing experts.

You can find more cartoons at:

Step 4: Statistical Lies

"There are three kinds of lies:
Lies, damned lies and statistics"
Mark Twain

What people do or say they want to do, is constantly being added up and tabulated. We call these collections of partial surveys, statistics. Sometimes, such numbers can provide meaningful indications. Unfortunately, statistics are increasingly being used as a replacement for the truth.

The news media have learned how to create statistics by simply paying someone to do a poll. A poll, even an accurate one, is a static snapshot of what people said they believed last week, last year, or last decade. It may not apply today. The accuracy of a poll depends on what was asked, how it was asked, and who was asked. In the end, you only have what people said they did or said they believed. They may have lied.

There are many ways that statistics can be twisted and manipulated to create a false impression. The most common way is to present statistics as if they were the truth. The truth is always true and always meaningful. Statistics may or may not be true and may or may not be meaningful. If nine out of ten people say they are in favor of a certain candidate that does not mean that even half of them will bother to vote and make their opinion meaningful. In the end, there a hundreds of ways that the questions can be asked to skew the results.

Plus or Minus
If you look at the fine print beneath the latest poll you will see that its accuracy is rated plus or minus so many points. Usually it is plus or minus 3 to 4 points. So, if they tell you that the majority of people are in favor of left handed people becoming president by 52% in favor to 48% against, the actual number could be different. Because of the statistical leeway in their methods, the actual number could be 48% in favor (52-4), to 52% against (48+4). This theoretical accuracy applies of course, only if the pollsters asked unbiased questions of a truly random sample of the population. This is rarely the case.

Leave Out the Starting Point
Here is another example of how people can tell a half truth to create a false impression with statistics. They tell you that the incidence of adults drowning in five gallon buckets increased by 100% this year. It makes it sound like we have a big problem and had better do something about it. Maybe we should put warning signs on all buckets so that this sort of thing will never happen again. What they don't tell you is that last year only one adult drowned in this way. They may also not tell you that in the last 20 years only two adults drowned in this way.

Step 5: Games Liars Play

There are many techniques that the liar loves to use. Such tricks are rarely used by themselves. The mind manipulators are able to combine them in subtle and clever ways.

Baseless Accusations
Determined liars know the strength of baseless accusations. All they have to do is simply accuse you of something you didn't do. If they can get you angry, they have got you. That guarantees that your response will be an overreaction. You begin to appear by your overreaction as if their accusation is true. You look out of control and they end up looking like the calm, sensible one.

Your overreaction brings on a new guilt. You feel guilty for
having lost your cool and can become much more apologetic
to the accuser. You can even end up going along with the
accuser because of your guilt for your angry overreaction.

For more about anger and the problems it creates, you can check out this instructable:

Muddy the Waters
People who know little about a subject like to act like they know a lot. When they have nothing real to oppose your truth they try to muddy the waters. They do this by making it seem more complex than it really is. Or they make it seem like such truth cannot be known. Or they make it seem as if such truth can be known but there is no way you can know it. They create endless hypothetical examples to disprove your point.

When Challenged, Change the Subject
Those who have nothing to support a baseless point of view are often experts at changing the subject. They pretend that you don't understand what the problem is really about. Soon you are discussing side issues that are irrelevant and avoid the main point. They have nothing to support their real point of view so they pretend it is about something else.

Use The Truth To Tell a Lie
They tell as much truth as possible, then mention what is not easily disproved. They do it all, to finally make a false point. The falsehood is snuck into the middle of other statements or examples that you cannot disagree with. If that doesn't work, they imply that which --if said out loud --would be a lie. They use the truth to imply things which are false. Later, if you confront them, they can say they never said it. Or thats not what they meant. The liar uses words to hide thoughts and uses thoughts to hide flaws. Liars use what we believe to be true to mask their hidden agenda.

Transfer The Blame
When someone has been caught doing what they ought not, they try and turn your attention to someone else. Here are a few of the favorite excuses used to divert your attention:

1. She or he did it.
2. THEY did it.
3. No one is to blame.
4. DNA molecules (heredity) did it.
5. It never happened.
6. It happened, but not the way you say.
7. It happened the way you say, but my actions had
nothing to do with it.
8. Why are you so negative?
9. You're not so perfect, who are you to judge?
10. Society did it.

It is Wrong For You To Tell Me What is Wrong
Translation: I want the truth, but only if it will make me feel good. If you're going to say something that will make me look wrong, then it is none of your business. If it involves flattery, then anything about me is your business.

Increase The Volume
Liars often have the childish notion that if they scream loud enough and long enough, they will get what they want. The noise is inversely proportional to the weakness of their claim.

Criticize The Messenger instead of The Message
People who are happily removed from the Truth and want to stay that way, will often become critics and begin to launch personal attacks. Instead of refuting the truth of what was said, they will attack whoever said it. They will make unsupported accusations of dishonesty, hypocrisy, incompetence, and greed.

If that doesn't work, they will attack the way it was said: "it should have been presented in a different form.", "It should have been free.", "It should have been what I expected.". They will not reasonably attack what was actually said, because the facts and the truth are not on their side.

A dishonest critic is often someone who thinks they know how others should do what the critic cannot do. It is easier to criticize than to create.

Step 6: Why We Prefer Lies

We learn to lie because people don't like the truth.
We continue to lie because we want something.
We excuse our lies while pretending to be honest.

If you ask anyone, they will tell you that of course they don't like lies, they want the truth. They will insist that they do not like to be fooled or have people think that they can be fooled. The average person will adamantly tell you that they prefer the truth. That is a lie. Most people prefer the truth only if it is convenient. Unfortunately, the truth that people need the most--is very inconvenient.

People want the truth only when it is flattering to them. If you tell them something that makes them feel good about themselves, you can tell them anything--even a lie. If you tell them something that makes them look bad, no matter how true it is, no matter how important or useful it may be, most people do not want to hear it. The truth that would wake us up so that we could become better, is often ignored or denied. We shun the truth that can make us truly free.

The only trouble with lies is that most of the universe refuses to back them up. Without honesty, money is useless, words have no meaning, and justice is impossible. In the end, more is lost trying to support a lie than it takes to lean on the truth.

One of the more curious things about the truth is that you cannot force it on people. They will rebel. And in their rebellion they will reject the truth along with your willfulness. You cannot even give away the truth for free. People do not value what they get for free. People will seek the truth and accept it only when they are ready. Most of the people that exist today are not ready.

"We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others,
That in the end we become disguised to ourselves."
La Rochefoucauld

Be the First to Share


    • Puzzles Speed Challenge

      Puzzles Speed Challenge
    • Secret Compartment Challenge

      Secret Compartment Challenge
    • Lighting Challenge

      Lighting Challenge

    11 Discussions

    u know what? i was gonna go off on u about the instructable, but after reading patrick pending's comments, ive decided to be nice. it was a clever instructable.

    Patrick Pending

    @ MIKEY77 Here is some constructive criticism and also a chance for me to see if I have learned to spot a lie: These points you made are true (although you do seem to be shooting yourself in the foot with them): "You should not believe anything that is in this instructable." - Ain't that the truth! "Occasionally, a lie is so obvious that anyone can easily see through the sham." - I guess this was one of those occasions, the instructable is a sham for you to sell books. "People who know little about a subject like to act like they know a lot." - Yeah, some of them even go so far as writing books! These are a few of the many lies and distortions I spotted: "The doctors and lawyers, politicians and tax collectors; they make the rules and explanations intentionally confusing." - My wife is a lawyer and she certainly doesn't do what you claim. She specializes in law that ensures care for the elderly, before that she was protecting the legal rights of people with mental health issues, before that education law and before that intervening and protecting children from child abuse. Actually, I am pretty damned proud of her! for that matter, the Doctor that operated on her and saved her life when she got sick was also pretty cool! "A person who is cold looks at a tree and sees a source of firewood. Someone who is hot looks at the same tree and sees cooling shade." - Funny, I look out my window at a tree and regardless of temperature I think those pigeons have been crapping on my car again! "favorite excuses:" ...blah, blah... "4. DNA molecules (heredity) did it." - yeah I get that one all the time (no really I do), would definitely be in my top 5! Huh! I had better stop otherwise I would end up commenting on everything you wrote. Anyhoo, how are the book sales going, good I hope. I am certainly doing my best to raise awareness of your excellent product range. However, you may want to know that under the Instructables Terms and Conditions of Use, section 8. MEMBER CONDUCT,You agree to NOT use the Service to: "g. Upload, post or otherwise transmit any unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, promotional materials, "junk mail," "spam," "chain letters," "pyramid schemes," or any other form of solicitation;" Whoops! I guess that pretty much covers your instructable. In fact it covers all of your instructables! Never mind you could always say that "DNA molecules did it". Hope you found this helpful. Cheers, Pat. Pending


    13 years ago on Introduction

    Great instructable. I did spot a hypocrite, even while i was reading it, and thats mighty close to finding a liar. So lets see what we've got here then... Advertising lies... Interesting, so how about I take an example to try the theory out on. Say, hypothetically speaking, I found a free instructable labled "how to spot a liar", that didnt actually have any information on how to spot a liar in it. But it does have a link to the creators website where i can buy his ebook that apparantley has the rest of the info in it... sooo is that a advertising lie? I do like how you layered it there, the warning is an actual example... deep... Next we've got "Expert liars". Ooooh this ones sending a tingle down my spine. Noteable quoteable: "They'll try to make the simple complex... and the complex incomprehensible"... I like that. But three sentances on I must admit u lost me a bit. "They want you confused and frustrated and so far removed from your common sense that you will submit to any bureaucratic enlargement or the next volume of indecipherable regulations." ... Umm sorry lol, those big words and all, are you saying they're going to try and trick me by using big words? Or is bureaucratic enlargement what they're selling in all those junk emails I keep getting. Sorry, I know its a bit of a daft question, but I figure hey, if your happy to request payment for your ebook, you must fancy urself a bit of an expert in the field and can clear that one up for me. "Statistical lies", hey I'm gonna agree with you on that one, and no outlandish or hypocritical claims in it so its actually quite good... "Games liars play" tho... oooh I do like the baseless accusations bit. Lets give it a try. Here we go, found a good one, "The doctors and lawyers, politicians and tax collectors; they make the rules and explanations intentionally confusing." Wow your right, I mean I know that medicine, the law, politics and tax accounting are as fundamentally complex and difficult as the subject they're based upon... but that baseless accusation makes me feel angry and liable to overreact... what to do, what to do! If only there was a link to a site I could buy an ebook that would explain the issue of liars properly... Ahh well, lets see what else we've got... "They tell as much truth as possible, then mention what is not easily disproved" Getting bored of typing now, see above paragraph and quote on doctors etc purposely making medicine a difficult subject. "It is Wrong For You To Tell Me What is Wrong"... phew, had to re-read that sucker four times before it sunk in... I'm still not sure what exactly is my business, the whole thing seems to just "Muddy the Waters". Meh I think I've said my fill, and u wouldnt have heard a peep from me if this instructable wasnt just a plug for your ebook. Just really tickled my funny bone to find out this was nothing more than an except from an ebook ur trying to sell, especially when you've included the chapter bashing advertising. You make some good points, you make some downright wrong points, but there was some interesting stuff either to agree with or argue with either way. But If I may. If you do hope to set urself up as an expert on lying, then do yourself a favour and either print your full thoughts on the subject, or stop plugging you book here. Salvage what little credibility you can and just lose the links. I know we all want to make a buck... but ur undermining your entire arguement by including those links.


    13 years ago on Introduction

    (I wish you wouldn't put horrible & irrelavent images on these)
    This reads more like an essay on lies and related areas. I didn't learn how to spot a liar.

    The Man is working on something sophitsicated...



    13 years ago on Step 6

    this is very informative and such, but the title of the instuctable is very misleading. In fact, the whole article seems to give me the message: this is the introduction for understanding human nature in terms of lying, if you actually WANT to spot a liar, go and read my e-book that may or may not actually contain how to spot a liar. what i was hoping for was something like: look for blinking more often than usual.. etc. etc.

    but patrick pending, if he taught you how to spot a liar then in fact he did not lie! wich would make YOU the liar! and it was alot of rambling but the cartoons made it worth it, plus reading the instructable filled up 15 minutes of my time that i would have just been laying down.

    Patrick Pending
    Patrick Pending

    Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

    I am of course a compulsive liar (and that's the truth, honest). I see you have also learned from this excellent and informative instructable and spotted me for what I am ;-)

    In this instructable he plugs the book he wrote (available to buy on his website). on his "Make Yourself More Peaceful. How to Eliminate Anger" instructable he shamelessly plugs another book he has for sale and on the "Make Conductive Glue and Glue a Circuit" instructable he is also offering stuff for sale via his website.
    I'm not skeptical about his motives though I am a trusting sort of guy. I am absolutely convinced that he is more concerned for our moral guidance and that his own commercial interests are purely coincidental.

    Anyhoo, I'm sold I am off to his site to buy all his excellent products.

    PS Did you spot where I was lying? Did what I say make you angry?
    Would you like to buy a book to help get you through it?
    I have the solution, check out my websitewebsite for my latest self-help book only $20

    Patrick Pending

    Thanks for the instructable but if I'm honest (you tell me) I would have to say that it was rambling drivel. Please take my comments as constructive, I am not trying to be mean. While the instructable refers to lies and liars It doesn't tell you how to spot them! - so I guess you lied in the title and I spotted it -hey that's really clever. you subliminally taught me how to spot a liar, I'm impressed ;-)