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July 3, 1996

Lies! Lies!! Lies!!! The Psychology of Deceit

Author Affiliations

George Washington University Washington, DC

JAMA. 1996;276(1):76-77. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540010078038

Everybody lies. The con-man and the used-car salesman lie, and so does the esteemed scientist. Children learn to lie early on (and by doing so are helped to achieve a sense of self and independence from their parents), and their parents and grandparents also lie. Deceitfulness is a trait that humanity shares with much of the animal kingdom, for whom lying is often a matter of life or death.

This is the theme of Lies! Lies!! Lies!!! by Dr Charles V. Ford, who accepts lying as a universal human phenomenon to be examined in an unbiased and objective manner. In this book he undertakes to provide a comprehensive account of its taxonomy, development, causes, effects, and consequences, thus treating lying just as he would any other common human characteristic.

Lies range from the normal, to the habitual, to the pathological, and they are derived from a variety of social, psychological