Tag Archives: lying

Why Men And Women Cheat (And Lessons To Learn From It)

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As an unapologetic romance fan, I concede that I often talk about love the same way dog lovers talk about puppies. I go on and on about how wonderful it is, but often gloss over the nasty parts. In the same way those dog lovers don’t dwell on all the times their beloved companion shits on the rug, I don’t dwell on the more painful aspect of romance.

Well, in the same way ignoring the pile of dog poop doesn’t make the stench go away, ignoring those painful elements of romance doesn’t make them any less relevant. Even those who aren’t romance fans understand that romance often involves tragedy. It’s no coincidence that some of the most famous love stories, from “Romeo and Juliet” to “Titanic,” involve a hefty bit of heartache.

I would argue that’s exactly what makes love and stories about romance so powerful. There’s a significant risk of heartache, rejection, and loss. There’s real pain that comes with pursuing romance, but the we gladly risk that pain because the rewards can be as fulfilling as they are sexy. I’ve done more to highlight the breadth of those rewards in my novels, especially with stories like “Passion Relapse.”

However, the pain that comes from the other side of that coin can be just as dramatic, if not more so. Anyone who has ever seen old episodes of “Jerry Springer” understands this to some extent. It’s not usually the kind of drama that ends with two lovers dying in each other’s arms or Rose not making room for Jack on that floating plank. More often than not, it’s a more frustrating kind of drama.

In many respects, the unsexiest version of this drama has to do with cheating. To some, that’s the much more dreaded C-word. Cheating is to romance what food poisoning is to Thanksgiving dinner. It is the worst-case scenario for those seeking the joys and appeals associated with romance. It is also one of those unfortunate elements that plays out in real life more often than it does in sexy romance novels.

It’s unromantic, but inescapable. Cheating happens and it happens a lot. While it doesn’t happen as often as “Jerry Springer” might have us believe, it happens often enough that it’s a legitimate concern among lovers. That’s why modern marriage laws, however skewed they might be, often account for infidelity.

In the same way there has never been a drug-free society, there has never been a society where cheating and infidelity has not occurred to some extent. From our caveman ancestors to the increasingly-uptight Millennials, the risk of cheating is there and the rise of social media and online dating sites like Ashley Madison are only making it easier.

I’ve talked a bit about cheating when I’ve discussed jealousy and our approach to marriage in modern society. Within the context of those discussions, cheating is a significant portion of those issues, but it’s still only part of a larger whole. It’s still a significant stain on the pursuit of romance, but it doesn’t completely overshadow it.

To make sense of it, as difficult as that may be, it’s necessary to focus on the reasons why people cheat. To anyone who has ever been the victim of a cheating lover, that may mean poking at old wounds and for that, I apologize. I admit it’s somewhat underhanded to suggest there are reasons why people cheat instead of just excuses, but to make sense of cheating overall, we need to accept that there are reasons behind it.

Listen to any story about cheating, be it a magazine article or a poorly-directed reality show, and you’ll notice a few themes about cheating. For one, there is a gender disparity in the numbers. Statistically speaking, men do cheat more often than women. However, the difference in those numbers isn’t quite as vast as the “Mad Men” stereotypes would have us believe.

As to why the gender disparity exists, there are just as many theories about that as well. I’ve talked somewhat about those disparities in discussions about sexual promiscuity and gender double standards. However, those theories don’t always explain the reasons behind cheating. In fact, the process for gathering data on cheating is exceedingly tricky.

Absent an underlying theory, we’re left with a diverse list of reasons that men and women give for their infidelity. According to WebMD, men and women cheat in different ways. For men, it’s often physical, a method of meeting unmet needs. For whatever reason, they’re no longer satisfied with their spouse and cheating is either a way to meet those needs or escape from that spouse.

For women, the act of cheating often has more emotional connotations. While meeting a physical need is part of it, women are more inclined to seek an emotional connection when they cheat. That’s not to say that some women just want some sexual variety or some men don’t fall in love with those they’re cheating with, but these are the popular narratives and some of it does bear out in the data.

Like I said earlier, though, the disparity in that data is not exceedingly vast and there are a lot of issues associated with gathering that data in the first place. If you accept the rule of the great Dr. House, “The most successful marriages are based on lies,” then it’s almost impossible to ascertain just how much cheating is going on and why it’s happening.

Even if it’s impossible to know, there are lessons we can learn from the reasons and excuses that people give. Chief among the reasons men give for cheating involve seeking new intimate experiences, either out of dissatisfaction or boredom. Given how I’ve explored the impact of boredom before, I think that is likely a bigger factor than most care to admit.

With women, the reasons often involve a lack of satisfaction that goes beyond physical. It’s not just that they feel unsatisfied. The underlying theme often involves their sentiment that their partner is no longer putting in the kind of effort they did when they fell in love. That lack of effort gives the impression that they don’t care anymore, leading women to seek out someone who does care.

In scrutinizing these reasons that vary widely between gender, cultures, and personality types, there does appear to be one common theme that binds both genders when it comes to cheating. Whether it’s physical or emotional, it often comes down to the perception that someone in the relationship isn’t putting in the effort anymore. Either they don’t have the energy or just don’t care enough.

In either case, the context of the cheating seems less about meeting a need and more about finding someone who will match your passionate efforts. Regardless of whatever gender disparity may or may not be at work with cheating, there’s no denying that men and women are passionate creatures. We each seek outlets for our passion and if we’re not getting it from that outlet, we’re going to seek another.

That’s not to say that some who cheat are just looking for an exciting and novel experience. That’s another inclination that is hard-wired into both genders in ways that go beyond sex, romance, or fidelity. When it comes specifically to cheating, though, the primary catalyst often comes back to passion and how it’s being channeled.

Cheating and being cheated on often comes with many hard lessons, some of which leave deeper scars than others. Whether you’re a romantic like me, a jaded heart with cynical views on love, or believe that human beings aren’t meant to just love one person for the rest of their lives, the betrayal and dishonesty associated with cheating still hurts us. If nothing else, it’s a harsh reminder of how deep our passions run.

If there’s a lesson that both genders can and should learn from the pain of cheating, it’s the importance of understanding and channeling those passions. When two people share the kind of passion that keeps their love, sex, and relationship strong, then there’s no reason for either of them to cheat. It’s not easy sharing that kind of passion, but the fact we risk the pain of being cheated on shows it’s a risk worth taking.

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Filed under gender issues, sex in media, sex in society, sexuality

Being Right Vs. Winning An Argument Vs. Ben Shapiro

There’s an old saying that I just made up a few seconds ago, old being a relative term.

“You can either win the argument by merit or be right in principle, but only one matters in the long run.”

It sounds cynical, but it’s something I think most people realize at some point in our lives. The truth is a harsh mistress and it’s rarely the sexy kind. Truth is the kind of mistress that has no safe word, never offers any lube, and rarely gives overt warnings. When she wants to whip us in our most sensitive areas, she’ll do so without asking for permission or a second thought.

I’ll ease up on the BDSM terminology because I’m trying to make a serious point, one that’s a lot more relative in the era of “alternative facts” and “fake news.” More and more, we’re learning the hard way that our caveman brains aren’t equipped to seek truth. Survival and reproduction are our primary imperatives. Truth is optional, at best, and an afterthought at worst.

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It’s for that very reason that public debates or major speaking present a false sense of perspective that exploits our caveman brains. It gives the impression that the truth can be presented in a slick, concise, and easy-to-digest message that helps us make sense of the world. That kind of certainty in an world of cheap knock-offs and practical jokes is more valuable to our psyche than gold, diamonds, and good Wi-Fi.

I say that as someone who finds a lot of entertainment value in debates. For a time, one of my favorite things to do was to look up debates between scientists and creationists, which always seems to bring out the best and worst of our caveman brains. They nicely highlight how real, functioning human beings can hold such radically different viewpoints, as well as the excuses they’ll make to cling to those viewpoints.

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I won’t get into all the absurdities behind creationist debates. That’s not what prompted this post. The primary inspiration for this topic came from the recent news surrounding Ben Shapiro’s recent speaking gig at UC Berkeley. By every measure, this incident highlights all the problems with such debates better than any creationist ever could.

For those of you who don’t know who Ben Shapiro is, it’s not too hard to know what he’s about. He’s a fast-talking, quick-witted talking head in a media landscape that’s full of them. He specializes in espousing staunch conservative principles and you could make the case he does it better than almost any other conservative, at this point.

Personally, I like Mr. Shaprio’s style and I agree with some of the points he makes and not just because he makes them well. Many of them are points I’ve come to embrace on my own accord in trying to make sense of this crazy world. However, as much as I respect the man and his principles, he does embody a dangerous phenomenon that is becoming more prevalent in the digital age.

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It’s one born from that not-so-old saying I mentioned earlier about being right versus winning an argument. They are not the same thing, but they’re easy to confuse, thanks largely to our caveman brains.

Think back to the Simpson Filter in appealing to large swaths of people. For the Homer and Marge Simpsons of the world, winning the argument is enough to win them over. They leave the truth for the sad, lonely, and miserable Lisa Simpsons of the world that nobody listens to.

Ben Shaprio, and others like him, are highly skilled at using the Simpson Filter to get their message across. They’re slick, compelling, and charismatic in the sense that they check all the boxes that appeal to our tribal instincts, which I’ve noted before are a major source of conflict.

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By appealing to these instincts, they don’t have to be completely right. They don’t even have to be half-right. They just have to get people thinking and feeling that it’s right, so much so that they won’t bother checking the facts, doing some research of their own, or even giving it a second thought. Why would they? Ben Shaprio comes off as so smart and so knowledgable that he’s done the thinking for us.

Therein lies the biggest problem, though. By focusing on the argument and not the truth, it’s easy to conflate the two. Ben Shapiro is not a scientist, an economist, a politician, a philosopher, or even a used car salesman. He’s just a commentator, who happens to be exceptionally well at commentating in an articulate manner. That’s a valuable skill, but it’s not the same as being correct.

This actually played out in another event that occurred earlier this year at Politicon 2017. At that event, Ben Shapiro debated Cenk Uygur, another professional commentator who is at the opposite end of the political spectrum. Like Shapiro, I respect Mr. Uygur and agree with some of his positions. However, he is not as skilled a debater as Mr. Shapiro.

If you watch the debate, listen to the crowd, and note the speaking styles of both men, it’s not hard to see who has more skill and experience in that field. If you read the comments and look at the reactions, most agree that Mr. Shapiro won that debate. I’m sure it’s not the first debate he’s won, nor will it be the last.

That’s just it, though. Mr. Shapiro could win a billion more debates against a billion other people much smarter than Mr. Uygur. He could go down in history as the most skilled debater in the history of the human race. It still wouldn’t change one inescapable fact.

The real world, as in the world that operates outside our caveman brains, doesn’t give two whiffs of dried wolf shit about who wins a debate or by how much. Reality still operates under the same facts, rules, and principles. People still operate in ways that are at the mercy of their caveman brains and their collective circumstances.

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Ben Shapiro could convince every person on this planet that Ronald Reagan was right about everything, that the Jewish religion that he practices is the only correct one, and that everyone whoever worked for Hillary Clinton was an alien spy. That still doesn’t change reality. At the end of the day, the truth is still that same harsh mistress that will whip all our asses without warning.

That’s why, in the long run, it doesn’t matter how many debates Ben Shapiro or others like him win. It doesn’t matter how well they craft their message. In the long run, if their ideas don’t line up with reality, then reality will eventually win out. It always does. People die, take their ideas with them, and leave reality to sort out the rest.

Now, I don’t doubt for a second that Mr. Shapiro is sincere in his beliefs. I also don’t doubt that his opponents, like Cenk Uygur are just as sincere. That’s why I wouldn’t classify them as professional trolls, such as the Ann Coulters and Lena Dunhams of the world.

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They don’t say what they say, just to provoke our caveman brains and draw attention to themselves. They aren’t outright con-artists either, like certain televangelists. They’re just good at conveying their ideas and making them feel legitimate. Unfortunately, that’s as far as they can take it.

Ben Shapiro, Cenk Uygur, and everyone like them may think they have the answers. They may even believe that their way will make the world a better place, as a whole. They’re not entirely malicious in attempting to convey their points, but they are misguided.

There’s also a danger to their approach, conflating debates with truth. They present the false impression that an issue like politics, evolution, and economics can be resolved through simple debate through a series of talking points. As anyone who has worked with a tax attorney knows, that’s just not how the real world operates.

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The world is complicated, complex, and chaotic. No human brain, or collection of human brains, is equipped to make sense of it. Some of these issues aren’t just complex, either. They’re impossible to resolve because there just aren’t enough resources for everyone.

A skilled debater, like Ben Shapiro, is good at convincing people there are quick fixes. The world can be improved simply by adopting the policies of his favorite ideology. He may convince you, me, and everyone around you that he’s right.

The truth, however, can never be swayed by fast talking, fancy rhetoric, or skilled arguments. At the end of the day, it will stay on the side of the harsh mistress that is reality. In the short term, the Ben Shapiro’s of the world will be able to bask in many victorious debates. In the long term, however, the truth knows whose asses will be stinging in the end.

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Filed under Celebrities and Celebrity Culture, Current Events, Jack Fisher's Insights

How To Manage Your Excuse Bank (Within Reason)

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When I did my first post on reasons versus excuses, I challenged readers to take a closer look at their actions and decisions. Why did they end up doing what they did? Was there a reason for it? Was that reason actually an excuse? Did that reason or excuse end with you getting laid, fired, or slapped in the face?

Given how many actions and decisions unfold on a day-to-day basis in the massive doughnut shop that is life, it’s hard to make sense of them all. I’m sure those without OCD or a personality disorder was quickly overwhelmed by the sheer breadth of reasons and excuses they came up with for their behaviors. Don’t worry and put down the vodka. That’s entirely normal.

We’re all human. We’re all bound to make bad decisions or bad reasons and/or lousy excuses. That’s part of life. The key is learning from those bad decisions and improving the skills that help us better our loves, help those around us, and even get us laid from time to time. Since I’m an erotica/romance writer, that last one was worth adding.

It’s also worth offering whatever help I can to others in developing those skills. Again, I need to remind everyone that I’m an aspiring erotica/romance writer. I’m not a scientist, a therapist, a psychologist, or doctor. I may write about people in those occupations getting involved in sexy situations, but I’m not at all qualified to offer the kind of substantive advice, complete with technical charts and an hourly bill.

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However, in dealing with plenty of colorful personalities throughout my life and writing various personalities in my novels, I do feel like I can at least offer some insight that can help people use my colorful ramblings in pragmatic ways. I can’t guarantee they’ll work, get you laid, or make you rich. This is just me trying to make my words both sexy and useful.

In discussing reasons versus excuses, I brought up the concept of excuse banking. It’s almost exactly what it sounds like. It’s the process of acting, believing, and learning in a way that effectively pockets an excuse to use to justify decisions later on. Since our brains are wired to decide first and then justify those decisions, excuse banking is very much a pragmatic manifestation of our collective psyche.

It’s not inherently good or bad. It can certainly get pretty darn bad, as I pointed out when I tied excessive excuse banking to political and religious extremism. Most people, though, don’t operate in extremes and if they do, it’s usually out of fear and survival, which are among the most valid reasons we can have for doing something. For the purposes of providing useful advice in excuse banking, I’d like to focus on the good.

In that spirit, I’d like to offer a quick rundown of tips and tricks for managing your excuse bank effectively. We’re all going to make excuses at some point. We’re all going to bank those excuses in some form or another. We might as well figure out how to do it in a way that improves our lives and gets us laid.


Tip #1: Maintain A Balance, But Avoid Hoarding

Like any useful bank account or credit card, it’s important to maintain a balance. You always want to have some reserves, just in case it’s an emergency and you need a valid excuse to explain why your pants are in the refrigerator. You don’t want to be stuck relying on reasons that may or may not apply. That’s just going to make you look stupid, incompetent, and decidedly unsexy.

Unlike a traditional bank account, though, you don’t want to let your excuse bank get too bloated. That’s because excuses aren’t hard assets. They’re intangible, malleable, and much easier to abuse. You may be able to use a dollar bill to snort a line of blow, but with an big enough excuse you can justify snorting blow off a stripper’s tits.

That’s why you should not hoard your excuses the same way I hoard comic books. As I noted in my post on extremism, having too many excuses that are too malleable creates all sorts of nasty temptations. Having those excuses is like having a loaded AK-47 in a traffic jam. Even if you can resist the temptation, the potential is still there and the danger of that potential can be pretty vast. Just ask any experienced traffic cop.


Tip #2: Invest With Other Peoples Whenever Possible

This part of excuse banking also highlights one of the key differences from other types of banking. In a sense, excuse banking is almost always a joint effort. It’s not enough to just have an excuse. You also need other people to believe them in order for them to be useful.

An excuse with a random stranger and an excuse with a close family member is not going to have the same value. At the same time, an excuse you bank on your own isn’t going to be as valuable as one you bank with other people. Human beings are very social creatures. When you forge close social bonds, be they with family or lovers, your excuses carry more weight and so do those of others.

In a sense, it’s a win-win investment. By banking excuses within a social group, you develop a sense of trust and understanding. That makes deposits and withdraws from your bank easier and less likely to blow up in your face. Just watch any Ben Stiller movie to see why that’s so important.


Tip #3: Know Which Investments Grow And Which Are Toxic

It’s true. Excuse banking sometimes deals in toxic assets. I’m not just talking about bad mortgages or too much stock in Enron either. When your excuse bank has toxic assets in it, you’re in big trouble.

A toxic asset in an excuse bank is often one we don’t realize is toxic. Sometimes, we even refuse to realize it. That’s what often happens with dictators, religious zealots, and child actors. Their excuse bank is so full of toxic assets that they don’t know how bad their excuses are and if someone tries to tell them, they don’t listen. That often leads to the kind of tragic self-destruction that becomes an A&E documentary.

That’s why it’s so important to identify these toxic assets before they poison you. Those assets will undermine your ability to work with others and gain their trust, two things everybody needs to survive in a functioning society. So how do you know if an asset is really toxic? Just follow these simple steps:

  • Step One: Ask yourself, “Would this excuse allow me to punch someone in the face and make them apologize for hurting my hand?”
  • Step Two: If you answered yes to the following question, then the excuse is toxic.

Tip #4: Understand An Investment’s Potential, But Don’t Ignore The Risks

Like any investment, there are risks and rewards that you have to weigh. Sometimes the risks are minimal. When you fake sick just a couple times and don’t announce to the world on FaceBook that you’re running a marathon, the risks are pretty minimal. Those risks escalate when you let them pile up, so much so that your girlfriend won’t believe you when you say you need to perform brain surgery on the President.

This is especially important for anyone in a position in power, be they the despot of a country or a manager at Walmart. Having power offers a lot of potential because it creates both excuses and reasons for people to do what you tell them. However, the risks are much greater, especially if you want to use that power competently.

It’s easy to lose yourself in power. Anyone who used cheat codes in old Mario games understands that. That’s what makes it so dangerous because it prompts us to ignore the risks. When we do that, we’re less likely to realize when our excuses become toxic. People don’t trust us and look for ways to get us out of the way. No matter how much power you have, you won’t be able to use it effectively if your excuses are toxic.


Tip #5: Avoid Banking Excuses As A Means To Improve Past Investments

This tip is directly tied to a little something called the sunk cost fallacy. Anyone who has ever had a gambling problem or knows someone who would bet their shirt at a blackjack table knows it well. It’s this annoying quirk in our psyche that compels us to keep throwing resources into a game we’ve already lost to justify past investments.

In a sense, it’s an excuse to justify stupid risks that didn’t pay off. It’s a way to alleviate the mental stress of knowing just how badly we’ve lost. In the context of excuse banking, it applies to more than just a bad run of luck at a casino.

Like trying to win back what you’ve lost, banking excuses to improve toxic assets rarely works out. When an excuse has become toxic, it usually stays that way. It’s like the boy who cried wolf. Even if the wolf does come once in a while, there isn’t much you can do to improve the utility of the excuse.

Excuses, like fresh fruit, can perish quickly. They can be finite and applicable only to specific circumstances. Once those circumstances pass, trying to cling to those excuses is like trying to make spoiled milk taste good. It just can’t be done.


Tip #6: Long Term Investments Usually Pay More Than Short Term Investments

This is where we kind of have to battle our inner caveman here. As I’ve covered before, caveman logic compels us to think primarily in the short-term. We prioritize the potential for avoiding tigers and mating with fertile partners. Those short-term investments worked well in the caveman days, but they work less well in more complex societies.

The key purpose of excuse banking is to ensure you can justify your decisions to others. If you can’t do that, then other people aren’t going to trust you, work with you, or want to have sex with you. Now there’s a time and place for short-term investments, but they’re usually very specific and rare.

Long-term excuse banking involves crafting excuses that build trust and understanding with others. Ideally, they have some amount of reason to support them, if only in part. Bank enough long-term excuses and you’ll find people who are eager to work with you, ready to trust you, and eager to take their clothes off with you.

That kind of investment usually takes a lot more time and effort, but the payoffs can be pretty damn awesome.


These are just a few tips to start out. If I come up with others or learn from someone else, I’ll share them in another post or list. If anyone else has investment advice in the world of excuse banking, please share it.

Excuses may be one of the most important investments we can make. It’s one of the few currencies that is valid in every country, culture, and society. Sure, we can’t use them to tip strippers, but they’ll help us in negotiating our lap dance.

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Filed under Reasons and Excuses

Sex, Lies, And The Future Of Truth

Admit it. You’ve lied before. Maybe it involved drinking in high school. Maybe it involved  strippers at a bachelor party. Maybe it involved a promise to pull out. Whatever the case may be, regardless of whether you got caught or ended up paying child support, you’ve lied at one point in your life. As the great Dr. House once said, “Everybody lies.”

Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with lying. It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re lying to tell a story, which is basically what I do as a writer, then it’s not wrong. If done right, it can actually be pretty damn sexy. If you’re lying to deceive a lover, cheat on your taxes, or prevent your children from knowing about condoms, then that’s pushing it.

I bring up lies because, in watching my share of both superhero movies and romantic comedies, there is one common theme that binds many of these conflicts. No, it’s not Robert Downy Jr. or Hugh Jackman’s sex appeal. It’s that a lot of these plots are built on someone lying and working way harder than they need to in order to keep up the lie.

Take “The Proposal” with Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock for example. In addition to being one of my favorite romantic comedies of the past several years, it’s entire plot was built around a lie that Bullock’s character crafted and Reynolds had to help preserve. Sure, it made for a hilariously entertaining story, complete with awkward nude scenes and moments with Betty White, but it was all built on the foundation of a lie.

Why do I bring up lies? Well, to answer that, I’ll have to get a little personal again and this time, it has nothing to do with me sleeping naked.

I’ve gotten a lot of romantic advice over the years from friends and family. Some of it is good. Some of it is bad. Some of it just plain crazy and involves some rather improper uses of food. However, within the good advice I’ve gotten, there was one common theme and it amounted to this.

DON’T KEEP SECRETS.

I write that in all caps and bold because they didn’t just tell me this as a casual aside. They made it a point to really emphasize the importance of being honest with those you love. No relationship can really function in the long run when both sides are keeping secrets. Say what you will about the Bundys or the Simpsons, but they are honest with each other, often brutally so.

Beyond the advice, there are a lot of romantic stories that involve secrets, lies, and deception. It’s not always in the smooth, sophisticated ways of James Bond either. Stories about lies, affairs, and elaborate deceptions are basically the bread and butter of these stories.

I’ve certainly used those themes. In “Skin Deep” and “The Escort and the Gigolo,” a big chunk of the plot is built around certain lies and deception. Not all of them are intentional either. Sometimes, the characters just don’t have a reason to believe someone is telling the truth.

This brings me to another thought experiment of sorts. Granted, it’s not exactly the sexy kind, but it has the potential to be. It involves the ways in which we expose lies. At the moment, we really can’t be 100 percent sure if anyone is telling the truth. We can’t even be 80 percent sure. People who lie, cheat, and manipulate others still operate and thrive in this world. Just ask Bernie Madoff.

Our entire justice system is built on the understanding that we can’t exactly know for sure whether someone is guilty or innocent. We can put them under oath all we want. People can and will still lie. That’s why we have principles that presume innocence and require that we prove guilt, and the lies by default, beyond all reasonable doubt.

As good as our justice system has served us, to a point, it still struggles to uncover lies. It can interrogate and intimidate all it wants. It won’t always be able to get out the truth. In fact, it can even create even more lies in the process.

This is where the thought experiment comes in. What if we had a device that could, with nearly 100 percent accuracy, tell whether someone was lying? What would that do to our justice system? What would that do to our relationships with others? Would it effectively force us to be more honest with our friends, family, and intimate lovers?

This is another one of those thought experiments that isn’t overly fanciful. Creating devices to detect lies is not a new idea. In fact, it’s been in development for over a century.

Contrary to popular belief, however, there is no functioning “lie detector” yet. Those who claim there is are probably referring to a polygraph. A polygraph is not a lie detector. If anything, it’s a stress detector. It doesn’t detect lies. It detects the stresses on your body. I’m sorry if this completely changes how you see “Meet The Parents,” but that’s the hard truth.

For that reason, the National Academy of Sciences has concluded that the vast majority of research on the use of a polygraph for lie detection is unreliable, bias, and unscientific. It’s also why polygraph tests aren’t considered a reliable form of evidence in a court of law.

This is because it is possible to fool a polygraph. It’s been done before. There are even entire YouTube videos dedicated to helping people beat a polygraph. As a lie detector, it’s not much better than flipping a coin.

Beyond the polygraph, which only measures physiological responses, there is another emerging technology called fMRI, or Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. This technology is more functional in principle because it measures the very source of all lies, namely the human brain. However, our limited understanding of how the brain forms lies prevents it from being a full-fledged lie detector.

Even so, the use of fMRI has been shown to be an effective way at detecting lies. It’s still not perfect. In an episode of Mythbusters, one of the hosts was able to beat an fMRI. If it can be done on a TV show, then what hope does it have in a court of law with people who lie for a living?

Despite this flaw, research has shown that an fMRI was able to detect lies with 24 percent more accuracy than a polygraph. Overall, it’s accuracy is about 78 percent. That’s pretty good. If it were a winning percentage in baseball, it would be a playoff team. However, when you’re dealing with law and relationships, 78 percent just isn’t enough.

At the very least, the technology is improving. As the science of brain imaging continues to improve, it will eventually be possible to detect lies within someone’s brain with a degree of accuracy that would make every court drama much more boring.

There may even come a day where detecting lies is as easy as talking into a smartphone. Remember that smart blood I mentioned a while back? Well if someone had that in their system, then their brains could be scanned in real time. That means people could know whether they’re lying in an instant. That would basically destroy the entire pick-up artist community.

Now that kind of lie detection is a long way off. However, and I know I say this a lot, there may come a day within our life time when this technology is functional. Given the ongoing development into fMRIs, it may only be a matter of time before someone creates a system that can detect lies with 99 percent accuracy.

What will this mean for criminal justice? What will this mean for divorce proceedings? What will this mean for relationships in general when people know there’s a way for their lies to be exposed? It’s a strange and ominous idea to imagine, but the cold hard truth is that we may have to deal with sooner than we think.

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