Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey

Truth and Lies

97 Comments

polygraph_test“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” ~ Mark Twain

While going through the hiring process for my current job, I was required to take a lie detector test. I consider myself to be an honest person, but to tell you the truth, I was nervous. I felt like I was strapped into an electric chair. I was schvitzin.

I’ve read studies that say the average person lies several times a day. Experts believe that children learn to lie by observing their parents. For example, the phone rings and the mother has the child tell the caller she’s not home. The child is taught the art of deception by imitating their parents.

If someone chooses to lie, there is a wide variety of lies from which to choose. The half-truth is a deceptive statement that might contain some elements of the truth. A lie told with no malicious intent and little if any consequences, is a fib.

The white lie is probably a lie human beings are most guilty of telling: “No, you don’t look fat in those jeans.” These lies often considered harmless and told to protect feelings. Typically, the white lie is told to make the recipient feel good. On the other hand, if someone is smiling as they tell you a lie, they’re lying through their teeth.

Of course, I don’t want people to lie to me, but in fiction writing, lies can be an important storytelling tool. A character that lies will often catch my interest. A bland character becomes intriguing when he tells a lie or two. The reader will start to wonder, what does she have to hide?

When I decide to have my character tell a lie, I need to make sure the reader knows that this is in fact, a lie. If I fail to do so, he or she won’t anticipate when the truth will be discovered. The possible consequences of a lie can keep the reader turning the page.

I did pass my polygraph test. It’s not something I’d like to experience again. As I was unhooked from the machine, all I was told was that my heart was pulsating during the entire test. When I was offered the position several weeks later, I figured my rapid heartbeat meant I was truthful.

Advertisements

Author: Jill Weatherholt

My name is Jill Weatherholt and I’m a writer. I have a full-time job, but at night and on the weekend, I pursue my passion, writing. I write modern stories about love, friendship and forgiveness. I started this blog as a way to share my journey toward publication and to create a community for other new writers. Raised in the Washington, DC area, I’ve lived in Charlotte, North Carolina since 2004. I hold a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and a Certification in Paralegal Studies from Duke University. My first book, SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE, will release in March, 2017. It's now able for pre-order on Amazon. I was the first place winner in the Dream Quest One Short Story Contest in the Winter 2014-2015 competition. In 2014, I placed second in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest. I was also a top ten finalist in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest in 2012 and 2013. I’m a 2010 and 2012 winner of the NaNoWriMo Contest. I love to connect readers, visit me at jillweatherholt.com

97 thoughts on “Truth and Lies

  1. What an interesting post, Jill. I never thought about the many facets, or different types of lying. You’re absolutely right – it makes for good fiction. It adds a complicated layer to well-developed characters.

    Have you read the Hunger Games series? The Catching Fire (book 2) film opens today, but the girls and I went an advanced screening last night. It was a fantastic film. No lie!

    Like

    • Thanks, Gwen. When I started to read more about lies, I was surprised by the number of variations. I only touched on a few, there are so many more.

      I’m embarrassed to admit, but I haven’t read the Hunger Games series. I’ve heard great things about the movie. In most instances, I enjoy the book more than the movie. I wonder if I would know what was going on without seeing the first film or reading book one. I’ll have to add the Hunger Games series to my TBR stack.

      I’m glad you and your girls were able to attend an advanced screening. I’m sure it was fun. Enjoy your weekend, Gwen!

      Like

  2. I know I tell lies, or rather white lies, several times a day, especially at work. Sometimes it’s simply easier to leave people smiling and not knowing how I really feel about a particular project 🙂 I agree with you that lies can move a story along, especially if the character lying is someone who tends not to lie, who perhaps is lying to protect someone other than herself. In one of my works in progress, it’s a lie that results in murder, although I didn’t know that when I started writing. I came to love the idea though: a woman lies to her lover to protect him from the truth, and he winds up killing her because he believed the lie.

    Like

  3. A really interesting post! On a lot of levels. I think my heart would race, too, taking that test. I guess a true sociopath has no conscience, so his heart would not race! Thanks for the post!

    Like

  4. This post really got me thinking, Jill. How interesting – and how scary to have to take a lie detector test. I think I might want to try and lie on purpose just to see if I could beat the machine – then where on earth would I end up?
    I suddenly thought – how do we all really know each other through our blogs? Maybe we are presenting a different face on the page to the one we show in a face to face encounter. This is going to get deeply weird and psychological and I don’t think I’m equipped to deal with the answers – but supposing we are all acting out a different character – is that a lie, or are we just playing out our alter-egos?
    I’ll leave you with that one to ponder – have a great weekend!

    Like

    • LOL! I could see you trying to beat the test, Jenny. 🙂 I suppose we never really know when someone is portraying themselves in a different light on their blog than they really are. I’ve always considered myself a good judge of character and I think through our written exchanges, we’ve learned a lot about each other. So to answer your question, I know you’re not a psycho and we both know Sherri’s son is pretty fine! 🙂 Enjoy your weekend, Jenny!

      Like

    • I had two recent experiences with social media friends and their real-life alter egos, Jenny. One was a woman with a bold social media personality and when she participated in our writing group she came across as self-doubting and subdued. When I expressed surprise, she said: “I know – I’m much louder on Facebook.” The second was a young woman who has a delightfully quirky, bizarre blog. In a class we both attended, she expressed concern about an upcoming interview for a writing position because she feared that the interviewer would be disappointed with how mundane she was in person. So interesting. If you asked me if I present differently in writing than in person, my first response probably would be: “I am what I am wherever I am.” With more reflection I’d have to admit that I’m sometimes more censored in writing because of its permanency. I’m sometimes ‘wittier’ because I have the luxury of editing my quips. And I’m sometimes more dramatic because it just reads better. Oh my gosh – I’m a liar, too!

      Thanks for starting trouble, Jill!

      Like

      • I’d say you seem totally honest!
        It’s interesting the experience you’ve had with those two people. I have a really good friend who also reads my blog – I’m going to ask her next week if I present differently on screen to how I am in person. I know she’ll give me a straight answer. I’ll report back!!

        Like

      • I’ll be interested to hear what she says, Jenny.

        Like

      • I’ve read enough of your blog to know you’re a genuine and honest person, Shel. I think when it comes to our fiction writing, we have an excuse to lie, plus it’s fun! Thanks for sharing your experience with the people from your writing group…very interesting. Have a great weekend!

        Like

  5. I hope you’ll write a polygraph scene into a story, Jill—it could be a lot of fun to read!

    Like

  6. I’ve never had to take a polygraph test, and the thought terrifies me. I am one of those people who is intimidated by authority and fear that my extreme nerves would be taken by the test as a sign of lying. People always say to me, “Why do you have a rash on your chest?” Um, because I am in a situation where you are looking at me and judging me . . . . Good point about characters that lie, though. That is a good point for nonfiction as well, especially memoir.

    Like

    • Oh my gosh, Luanne…I get the same rash on my chest! Thankfully, it was cold so I was able to wear a turtleneck to the test. I know my chest was fire engine red! Something about being the center of attention just makes me uncomfortable. I’m glad you can relate. 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend, Luanne! I’ve really enjoyed your JFK posts. 🙂

      Like

      • My husband likes to watch Judge Judy, which I think is a horrible show. She said on one episode that people who get that rash are lying. She uses it as a polygraph. WHAT?! It showed me what a bad judge she is . . . . Then I noticed she had a rash on her neck in another episode haha. You ahve a lovely weekend, too, Jill!

        Like

      • That is hilarious, Luanne! You’re right, Judge Judy is a bad judge if she believes a rash is a sign of lying. 🙂 Happy Saturday

        Like

  7. I have no idea how those bodies got buried under my marigolds! I swear!

    Hmmm. a lie-detector test is not far from a strip search. Those are some paranoid employers.

    Like

    • LOL…I don’t think I can even respond to this comment, Eric. 🙂 For some reason I’m thinking if you had to submit to a lie detector test, you would be carted off to the nearest interrogation room. 🙂 Enjoy the weekend!

      Like

  8. I would have been so nervous, especially since I am a horrible liar and I look guilty even when I haven’t done anything! Are you working for the CIA, Jill? 🙂

    Lies whether they be “white”, malicious or fibs, are part of everyday life and having characters not lie at all would not represent real life and thus would not be relatable to the reader. Lies are fun to read about and do keep you interested and full of anticipation.

    ps. You do NOT look fat in those jeans! 🙂

    Like

    • LOL! Well the whole point of a liar detector test is, not to lie. 🙂 I’m the same way about feeling guilty, Maria. If I’m in line at the grocery store and the 20 items or less cashier calls me over and I know I have more than 20 items, I feel guilty. You’re right, lies are all around us, but in the fiction world, they are so much for fun. Have a great weekend, Maria! I hope you get in some dancing. 🙂

      Like

  9. I think fiction writers like us come into a lie detector test at a disadvantage. Or maybe an advantage, actually. We’ve begun to tell lies so often when we make up stories, we begin to think they’re real after all. Hmmm… 🙂

    Have a great weekend Jill!

    Like

  10. Wow Jill, I have to wonder what kind of a job needs you to take a lie detector test?!! I feel guilty if I open the cereal box the wrong end so I would be useless I reckon taking one of those as I would think I was lying even though I knew I was being honest!! My heart rate would go through the roof for sure! But then, from what you share here, that would probably be a good thing!

    Have a great weekend Jill, you and your friend from Devon 🙂

    Like

    • Although I would love to have Maria continue to wonder if I work for the CIA…I don’t, I work for the police department. I think you and I are a lot alike, Sherri. Even though I knew I was being truthful, I was a wreck before, during and after the test. 🙂 Have a fantastic weekend…Derek from Devon says hello! 🙂 Say hello to your son. Jenny and I may be planning a visit soon. 🙂

      Like

      • Ha Ha!! Well Jill, I should have known the police department. How interesting. I tried to get a job with the police once in the forensics department but I had to give details of my family’s background. Well, you can imagine with my dad…say no more!

        Thanks Derek from Devon 🙂 Hope you both had a good weekend. We had an eventful one. Not sure whether to blog about it or not…dear Nicky, fell asleep on the train after a works’ drinks party and we had to do a spot of rescuing in the small hours…maybe I should have called you and Mrs Robinson – oh sorry, I mean, Jenny – first lol 😉

        Like

      • Yes, Jenny and I would have been ready and able to assist. 🙂 I hope Nicky is okay.

        Like

      • Ha Ha! Yes, thanks Jill, Nicky is okay, hoping to be able to move down to Brighton on the south east coast in a few weeks which is where his older brother lives and where he was happy before he left to move away for his ex girlfriend. He has a job interview next Monday 🙂

        Like

      • So glad to hear he’s okay. Wishing him the best on his job interview. Perhaps he should sing for them, he’d be guaranteed the job!

        Like

      • Love it 🙂 Will keep you posted!

        Like

  11. Ps Meant to say, congratulations for getting the job 🙂

    Like

  12. I hate having told a lie! I always manage to get caught out. 🙂

    Like

  13. Thank you for writing which is quite good and best wishes always, and greetings

    Like

  14. Congrats on the new job! I think honesty is good as long as it’s tactful and not malicious. People sometimes say mean things and end with “I’m just being honest” as if that excuses whatever insult they meted out. White lies are essential to our society. If everyone told the truth all the time, it’s likely that hurt feelings and retaliation would grind the world to a halt. ;P

    Like

  15. For future reference, according to the movies [and, as we all know, all of life’s questions are answered in the movies] certain heart medications can help you to fool a lie detector.

    On a personal note: I’m a big fan of equivocation. [but I did have to look up how to spell it]
    Terry

    Like

    • Lol…I’ve never heard that, Terry. 🙂 From my experience, I don’t know of any way that a person could fool a lie detector, but then again, I’m not a criminal. I appreciate your honesty about your spelling abilities. 🙂 Have a great weekend!

      Like

  16. I’ve had characters lie and I’ve certainly read books with the same, but I never really thought much about it until I read your post. It’s true, it does make for more interesting reading. Glad you passed the polygraph and got your position. I’ve never taken one and hope I never have too. Funny how honest people fear failing those things, perhaps even more than the people who have reason to fear them.

    Like

    • Thanks, Elizabeth. That’s so true, I doubt O.J. Simpson needed any extra antiperspirant during his polygraph. 🙂 I was really surprised by all of the different types of lies there are. It gives us a lot of options with our characters. Have a great weekend!

      Like

  17. Interesting post, Jill, both on lying and on the use of lies in storytelling. Speaking of stories, here’s a quick one about a conversation our son had with my wife when he was a teenager. She had caught him in a downright lie, so she told him so. He replied: “Mom, I didn’t lie. I fibbed.” At the time she thought it was the same as a regular lie. But today I learned something:

    “A lie told with no malicious intent and little if any consequences, is a fib.”

    I’ll have to pass that along to her … she’ll get a kick out of it.

    Like

    • Thanks for sharing, Dave, that’s a great story. Now I’m curious what he lied or fibbed about and if this is your son, the doctor? 🙂 While reading about lies, I came across over 25 different variations. I had no idea about many of these and I was a psychology major in college. Have a fantastic weekend!

      Like

      • You know, we’ve been laughing about that story for so many years I’ve actually forgotten what it was he was “fibbing” about. I’ll have to ask my wife and give you an update. And no, it wasn’t the doctor 🙂 Funny thing is, I shared with our son last night about the definition of fibbing. He got a big kick out of it. Have a great rest of the weekend!

        Like

      • Thanks for the follow up, Dave. You enjoy the rest of your weekend too!

        Like

  18. Hi Jill,
    Happy Saturday! I just love your post. No, no, no…I am not lying. It is the truth:) Your post just sparked an idea for me- I’m going to “borrow” an idea to start one of my own sometime down the line. I’ll let you know when.

    Now about this lie detector test- I took one many years ago; I was applying for a job as a teller at the neighborhood bank. I was a lot younger, fairly new to the U.S.A and had no idea about a lie detector test. I was fascinated with all the stuff they put on me. I still remember one of the amusing questions, “have you ever stolen anything when you were a child”? Of course, but it wasn’t “stealing”. I just took a small, a very, very small piece of my fried fish from the kitchen when my mom wasn’t looking. That fish was mine anyway! I just took it before my mom served it. Did I say it was a tiny piece? 🙂

    Back to your character, some characters are born to lie! It’s so much fun when they get caught:)

    Oh, I fib all the time. When people ask how I am doing, I tell a lovely fib. “I’m well, thank you”. They don’t have to know that my feet are aching, or my head is splitting, or my tummy is growling, or I so badly need to go to the bathroom!!! Right?

    Like

    • I appreciate your honesty, Elaine. 🙂 I’m glad I sparked an idea for you. Keep me posted on that.

      So, you stole some fish…did you just snatch it from the skillet when she turned her back? Sounds like the beginnings of a life of crime to me. 🙂

      You made a great point when you mentioned your response when people ask how you’re doing. That is so true, we keep it as brief as possible and rarely reveal how we really feel. Happy Saturday to you too, Elaine!

      Like

  19. By the way, Jill, that quote you opened with? Judge Judy uses that quote (a close paraphrase) and says she learned it from her grandmother. hahaha Happy Saturday!

    Like

  20. According to my aunt, the most dangerous thing about telling a lie is that if you tell it enough times it will become real to you…and you will be deceiving yourself.
    Luanne has already mentioned that Judge Judy also uses the quote by Mark Twain, but it doesn’t hurt to mention it again. You’re in good company with Twain AND Judy!

    Like

  21. Oh wow, what a cool discussion. Characters who lie really ARE interesting. It’s like reading a mystery, but the mystery is the truth that your character is trying to hide. I am definitely going to have to keep this in mind.

    And congratulations on the new job!

    Like

  22. Really interesting, Jill. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  23. Love all those categories for lies, Jill. A little disconcerting to realize we may all be lying daily…my most enduring “lie” is the one next to WEIGHT on my military ID card…hahahahahahahaha…I’ve always considered it more of goal than a fib! 😀

    Like

  24. Great post! The lying aspect goes with character flaws. We like a flawed character, rather than a Mary Sue. I don’t, however, like a character who always lies (instead of when trying to save himself or herself embarrassment or punishment). Sooner or later, a lying character needs to own up to the truth.

    Like

    • Thanks, Linda! I’ve never heard a perfect character referred to as a Mary Sue…I like that. 🙂 I agree, we have no respect for a character who doesn’t admit his or her lies at some point in the story.

      Like

  25. A lie detector test. Do you work for the CIA? Scratch that, i don’t want to be eliminated for being nosy.

    Like

  26. interesting conversation–especially the parts about how we present ourselves online (and whether we’re being truthful–kind of goes along with the discussion we’re having over on my blog, about integrity).

    You say you can “tell” when a person is being honest, and I think I can, too. I wonder, though. Can I really tell? In real life, I can tell when people I know well are lying; but I can’t always tell with people I’ve just met. My husband can see through lies as if he has x-ray vision. (Actually, I think he has a natural ability to read micro-expressions). It’s amazing, how often people fabricate crazy stories, just to have something “interesting” to talk about…

    I’m gullible to that, because I can’t lie. I just can’t–my conscience is overly-scrupulous.

    Like

  27. Lying fascinates me… I grew up in a world of deception where everything was some sort of farce and actions were always carefully chosen to produce some sort of desired effect. I despise the whole thing. I don’t know how I would fare under a lie detector test– I feel like I would second guess every answer and become anxious about whether or not they thought I was lying, which would spike my heart rate and make it appear so and then it’d all just be a downward spiral from there. Glad you got the job, though!

    Like

  28. I get nervous just thinking about taking a lie detector test…..and I’m an honest person as well.

    Like

  29. Excellent post Jill. I did not know about so many types of lies. White lies are the ones that most of us are guilty of telling since we like to make our friends feel better, since truth can sometimes hurt people. When I was in college a girl in my literature class got into trouble since her prank got too far. She had forged the Principals signature and put up a funny notice on the notice board. The principal and the disciplinary board held meetings and decided to expel from the college whoever had played a serious prank. No one opened their mouths since everyone knew who had done it but the girl involved was a nice girl and expulsion from the college would have ruined her. I was known as a very honest and truthful person and lastly the whole thing came to my testimony. You know Jill, I lied to save the girl’s future. The principal and the teachers knew it and afterwards one of my teacher’s came up to me and whispered in my ear that I had done the right thing and saved a future from being destroyed. I have never felt wrong about that lie. Take care my friend and again your lovely post brought a memory form my past. Take care and God bless.

    Like

    • I appreciate your kind words, Samina. Thank you for sharing that experience. I remember reading about that type of lie, I believe it’s referred to as a “noble lie.” You lied to protect your friend’s future…you’re a good friend, Samina. Take care and thank you again for the lovely K-9 post.

      Like

      • Thanks Jill for such a sweet answer. It makes me feel very good about myself. Thanks once again for liking my k-9 post my friend. You are an awesome friend. Take care and God bless.

        Like

  30. Then there is the noble lie. I think it is one up from the white lie. Problem with lying, is that it is a slippery slope. By the way, please don’t tell my wife Franics (disappearring in plain sight) I was over here reading your blog – ah — opps — I take that back 🙂

    I got to your blog when my wife Francis mentioned your post about Buy Nothing day today – I loved that post.

    Do take care, Jill, and good luck on your new job – and on you wrtiting journey as well.

    Like

    • This is pretty cool…I’ve never had a spouse stop by. You’re right, Bruce, lying is a slippery slope, so if Francis asks, I must confess. 🙂

      I appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to comment. Thank you for your kind words. I had no idea you were a blogger as well, I’ll have to check it out. Enjoy your weekend.

      Like

  31. Great post, Jill! I think that the quote is quite true! I think as we get older, it is more important to tell the truth at all times. We will remember how things went better, too. But, as you mentioned, in fiction and story telling we may need to stretch the truth and create interest that way! Smiles, Robin

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s