The Corner

Culture

Liar, Liar

One of the fascinating aspects of the Kavanaugh-confirmation debate is encountering all the Americans who insist they can tell which figure is telling the truth by watching them speak. Plenty of people insist, “I know how to spot a liar.”

Right, right. This is why some of you bought tickets to the Fyre Festival, bought a lemon of a used car, invested in Enron, let Bernie Madoff manage your money, raved about James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, believed your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend’s denials, forwarded that hoax social-media meme, and believed The Martian was based on a true story. Some of you are convinced he really is going to call you back, that the attractive woman connecting with you on social media is real, that your brother-in-law will pay back the money you loaned him, and that the guy who’s hanging around your girlfriend a lot is “just a friend.”

But you know how to spot a liar, right?

We live in country where roughly 5 million people bought weight-loss supplements that don’t work, 2 million attended the sales seminar because they were told they could win a prize, and 2 million fell for fraudulent “work at home” offers. Roughly 22.1 million Americans lost an estimated $9.5 billion to phone scams last year.

Some of you believed the Tourist Guy photo after 9/11, Lance Armstrong’s denials, and that the baseball home-run kings of the 1990s didn’t use steroids. Some of you believed Brian Williams’s stories, Stephen Glass’s reporting, and that Ryan Lochte had been robbed during the Rio Olympics. Some of you believed Bill Clinton did not have sex with that woman, that if you like your plan, you can keep your plan, and that the Duke Lacrosse players were a bunch of malevolent criminals. Some of you believe Pete Rose never bet on baseball. Some of you have marveled at stuffed and mounted jackelopes or were riveted by the “Alien Autopsy” footage back in the 1990s.

Some of you mourned Manti Teo’s late girlfriend and feared for the fate of Balloon Boy, and hoped LonelyGirl15 was doing okay. Some of you thought The Blair Witch Project was real found footage.

Some of you believed that Whole Foods employees would write a homophobic slur on a cake.

Some of you have mourned the death of Morgan Freeman multiple times over. Some of you think Tupac and Elvis are alive.

Somewhere in your attic, we’ll find a Milli Vanilli album.

So maybe, just maybe, you’re not as good at spotting a liar as you think you are.

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