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How our brains deal with lies

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1 How our brains deal with lies on 7/28/2018, 5:40 pm

Psychologists have studied the effects of lying on our brains. How do we handle hearing a falsehood? What is the longterm effect of having to deal with people who lie?

Anyone who's ever been in a relationship with a person who made things up all the time has experienced the exhaustion of being exposed to the constant uncertainty of such a relationship. Perhaps it was a significant other or a co-worker or a boss? How is Trump's "casual relationship with the truth" effecting the nation? The article continues at the link.


Lying in politics transcends political party and era. It is, in some ways, an inherent part of the profession of politicking.

But Donald Trump is in a different category. The sheer frequency, spontaneity and seeming irrelevance of his lies have no precedent. Nixon, Reagan and Clinton were protecting their reputations; Trump seems to lie for the pure joy of it. A whopping 70 percent of Trump’s statements that PolitiFact checked during the campaign were false, while only 4 percent were completely true, and 11 percent mostly true. (Compare that to the politician Trump dubbed “crooked,” Hillary Clinton: Just 26 percent of her statements were deemed false.)

What happens when a lie hits your brain? The now-standard model was first proposed by Harvard University psychologist Daniel Gilbert more than 20 years ago. Gilbert argues that people see the world in two steps. First, even just briefly, we hold the lie as true: We must accept something in order to understand it. For instance, if someone were to tell us—hypothetically, of course—that there had been serious voter fraud in Virginia during the presidential election, we must for a fraction of a second accept that fraud did, in fact, take place. Only then do we take the second step, either completing the mental certification process (yes, fraud!) or rejecting it (what? no way). Unfortunately, while the first step is a natural part of thinking—it happens automatically and effortlessly—the second step can be easily disrupted. It takes work: We must actively choose to accept or reject each statement we hear. In certain circumstances, that verification simply fails to take place. As Gilbert writes, human minds, “when faced with shortages of time, energy, or conclusive evidence, may fail to unaccept the ideas that they involuntarily accept during comprehension.”

When we are overwhelmed with false, or potentially false, statements, our brains pretty quickly become so overworked that we stop trying to sift through everything.

Our brains are particularly ill-equipped to deal with lies when they come not singly but in a constant stream, and Trump, we know, lies constantly, about matters as serious as the election results and as trivial as the tiles at Mar-a-Lago. (According to his butler, Anthony Senecal, Trump once said the tiles in a nursery at the West Palm Beach club had been made by Walt Disney himself; when Senecal protested, Trump had a single response: “Who cares?”) When we are overwhelmed with false, or potentially false, statements, our brains pretty quickly become so overworked that we stop trying to sift through everything. It’s called cognitive load—our limited cognitive resources are overburdened. It doesn’t matter how implausible the statements are; throw out enough of them, and people will inevitably absorb some. Eventually, without quite realizing it, our brains just give up trying to figure out what is true.

But Trump goes a step further. If he has a particular untruth he wants to propagate—not just an undifferentiated barrage—he simply states it, over and over. As it turns out, sheer repetition of the same lie can eventually mark it as true in our heads. It’s an effect known as illusory truth, first discovered in the ’70s and most recently demonstrated with the rise of fake news. In its original demonstration, a group of psychologists had people rate statements as true or false on three different occasions over a two-week period. Some of the statements appeared only once, while others were repeated. The repeated statements were far more likely to be judged as true the second and third time they appeared—regardless of their actual validity. Keep repeating that there was serious voter fraud, and the idea begins to seep into people’s heads. Repeat enough times that you were against the war in Iraq, and your actual record on it somehow disappears.



https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/01/donald-trump-lies-liar-effect-brain-214658

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2 Re: How our brains deal with lies on 7/29/2018, 1:12 am

Thanks for posting this, other.  An important piece for sure, and something I'm certain many if not most of us have wondered about -- at least those of us who resist lies rather than swallow them whole.

All in all, the situation with our pathologically lying president and the damage he's doing to the national psyche is appalling and frightening, to say the very least.

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3 Re: How our brains deal with lies on 7/29/2018, 7:46 am

But obama lies were ok. We get it.

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4 Re: How our brains deal with lies on 7/29/2018, 7:57 am

First, let me join other forum members in welcoming you back as I always enjoy following your posts/comments and this article hits at a central phenomena unfolding before our eyes. His propensity to repeatedly lie is reinforced by the national media network who work in concert to protect and defend these lies. I am referring to AM radio as recently Sinclair Broadcasting is extending their reach across the country providing an outlet for the most right wing propaganda and they work nonstop to defend and legitimize Trump's lies and distortions.

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5 Re: How our brains deal with lies on 7/29/2018, 7:58 am

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6 Re: How our brains deal with lies on 7/29/2018, 12:35 pm

knothead wrote:First, let me join other forum members in welcoming you back as I always enjoy following your posts/comments and this article hits at a central phenomena unfolding before our eyes.  His propensity to repeatedly lie is reinforced by the national media network who work in concert to protect and defend these lies.  I am referring to AM radio as recently Sinclair Broadcasting is extending their reach across the country providing an outlet for the most right wing propaganda and they work nonstop to defend and legitimize Trump's lies and distortions.  

Thanks, it is good to be back. I have too many irons in the fire already but I hope to make a contribution to this forum on a more regular basis.

We have truly entered a 1984 style of administration with few checks on it other than the free press, justice system (holding for now) and the occasional brave politician from the mostly retiring ranks of the GOP.

You may have noticed that the request for Sinclair Broadcasting to merge with the Tribune is in doubt, and that's good.


Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai on Monday said that he has "serious concerns" about the proposed merger between Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media, a surprising move that could kill the controversial $3.9 billion deal.

In a statement, Pai questioned the company's plans to get the deal approved by selling off some television stations and said he would propose sending the deal to be reviewed by an administrative law judge.

"The evidence we’ve received suggests that certain station divestitures that have been proposed to the FCC would allow Sinclair to control those stations in practice, even if not in name, in violation of the law," Pai said.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai on Monday said that he has "serious concerns" about the proposed merger between Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media, a surprising move that could kill the controversial $3.9 billion deal.

In a statement, Pai questioned the company's plans to get the deal approved by selling off some television stations and said he would propose sending the deal to be reviewed by an administrative law judge.

"The evidence we’ve received suggests that certain station divestitures that have been proposed to the FCC would allow Sinclair to control those stations in practice, even if not in name, in violation of the law," Pai said.

http://thehill.com/policy/technology/397194-fcc-chairman-rejects-sinclair-tribune-merger

The importance of this and news coverage in general (to try to keep to the topic) is that disinformation, lies and propaganda are running in high gear from 45 and his supporters. If nothing else we need less spin and more light. This is just my sense of things but it feels as if there may be more revelations coming soon, every day about the president's involvement with the Russian view of the world.

The intent of the constant stream of falsehoods is to just wear people out so we throw up our arms and say "I give up! I don't know WHAT to believe anymore!" We don't want this to happen. There is an objective reality. It can be checked out. We must persist.

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7 Re: How our brains deal with lies on 7/29/2018, 8:38 pm

PkrBum wrote:But obama lies were ok. We get it.

Yes.

Looney liberals don't like Trump because he tells the unvarnished truth about things.  They aren't used to that sort of thing, so they think they are "lies"

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8 Re: How our brains deal with lies on 7/30/2018, 1:48 pm

ConservaLady wrote:
PkrBum wrote:But obama lies were ok. We get it.

Yes.

Looney liberals don't like Trump because he tells the unvarnished truth about things.  They aren't used to that sort of thing, so they think they are "lies"

This stance by ardent Trump loyalists is what concerns me. In spite of the fact that many news organizations have documented Trump's lies his supporters refuse to acknowledge this.

It will come as no surprise that they will not accept any revelations of his entanglements with Russia for example, even as we see guilty pleas and indictments coming out of the Mueller investigation.

Putting "Running total of Trump lies" in my search engine, it came up with page after page of articles listing Trump's false statements and some articles discussing what may lead people to exhibit such behavior, constantly and over time.


https://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/statements/byruling/false/

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/maryanngeorgantopoulos/president-trump-lie-list

http://projects.thestar.com/donald-trump-fact-check/

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/08/trump-nonstop-lies/

https://www.metro.us/president-trump/jim-risch-trump-lies

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2015/11/24/Donald-Trump-s-8-Most-Recent-Blatant-Lies

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