Monday, July 22, 2024
HomeEducation / CultureThe Pinocchio Effect

The Pinocchio Effect

By Anthony Deyal

Researchers have found that when you lie your nose actually heats up. This is called the “Pinocchio Effect”. According to “Science Daily” (December 3, 2012) the University of Granada, using thermography to study heat distribution in different people, found that when people lie there is an increase in the temperature around their noses and the corners of their eyes. While there is supposedly a limit to the Pinocchio Effect in that if your nose grows more than twelve inches long it wouldn’t be a nose any longer, it will be a foot, there is the story of Snow White who sat on Pinocchio’s nose and screamed, “Lie to me! Lie to me!”

When it comes to lying, some of us are truly snow white. One research project found that 60 percent of the people surveyed reported telling no lies during a typical day, with another 25 percent telling between one or two lies. However, despite the fact that 85 percent appear to be either totally or relatively honest, about one percent admitted telling more than 20 lies per day. Actually, a study funded by British Vodka Maker WKD, a company known for its slogan ‘Have you got a WKD (for “wicked”) side?’, shows that men are much more WKD than women since we tell over 109,000 lies in a lifetime while women average only about 65,000. A University of Amsterdam study of more than 1,000 people between 6 and 77 years old found that teenagers are the group most likely to lie successfully.

Unfortunately, the researchers did not include politicians in the survey. Dr Philip Seargeant of the Open University, commenting on the “affectionate relationship between lying and politics” in the US, pointed out that “over these last few years we’ve witnessed this relationship grew ever more intimate until today it’s reached a stage where it’s often completely shameless. Lying- and doing so in a wanton and blatant way – is now such a part of everyday politics that it’s barely newsworthy anymore. We’re at the point where, as an article on CNN reported a few weeks ago, the government of the United States are ‘now lying about lying’ and seemingly to do so with impunity.”

British journalist, Andrew Brown, writing in the online paper FP (Foreign Policy) quips, “In Britain’s hierarchical culture, the crime for upper classes isn’t telling lies- it’s getting caught.” He sees lies in politics as an exercise of power. Some like those in Putin’s Russia (or Caribbean countries where prime ministers are treated like gods) are not meant to be believed. They are intended to make it plain that the liar has power and those lied to can do nothing about it. Mr Brown believes that there are two audiences in British politics – one comprising the elite who understand the truth and who deserve to do so, and the other is everyone else. In that context, for lies to do their necessary work of holding society together, it must never be admitted in public that they are in fact, lies.

Interestingly, no political leader has yet entered the World’s Biggest Liar Competition in Cumbria, England, most likely because it was postponed in 2020 and 2021 while the 2022 date is yet to be announced. If, however, we could set up our own politicians or enter some of those we know or read about, who would we bet on?

Very high on the list is Boris Johnson, the British prime minister. Almost a year ago, in April 2021, the British “Guardian” headlined, “Accusations of lying pile up against Boris Johnson. Does it matter?” and added, “Analysis: MPs and broadcasters are losing their reluctance to openly call out the PM’s deceit.” The paper described a “jaw-dropping” moment when the SNP (Scottish National Party) leader, Ian Blackford, asked Johnson a question that “was unsurprising and yet somehow extraordinary”. It was, “I can’t possibly call the PM a liar in this house but are you a liar prime minister?”

The full list of accusations against PM Johnson has more gates, terminals and “hangers” than Heathrow- “Christmas partygate” about a big party he held in his official residence when the country was subject to strict COVID measures; “Wallpapergate” or who paid for the renovation of the PM’s Downing Street flat; the Hillsborough disaster; an extramarital affair; and his failure to keep his promise to build 40 hospitals by 2030.

In the US, Donald Trump was accused of making tens of thousands of false or misleading claims estimated at about 21 per day. Wikipedia says, “Characterised as the ‘firehouse of falsehood’ propaganda technique, commentators and fact-checkers have described it as ‘unprecedented in American politics…As part of attempts to overturn the 2020 United States presidential election, Trump and his allies repeated and falsely claimed there had been massive election fraud and that Trump had really won the election. Their effort was characterised by some as an implementation of ‘the big lie’.” CNN added, “Trying to pick the most notable lies from Donald Trump’s presidency is like trying to pick the most notable pieces of junk from the town dump.”

CNN is convinced that Trump’s most dangerous lie was his boast that “the coronavirus was under control”; the most ridiculous subject of a lie was Trump’s boast that the head of the Boy Scouts had called him to say that his address, considered by many to be “bizarrely political”, was the “greatest speech that was ever made to them”; the most traditional big lie was that “Trump didn’t know about the payment to Stormy Daniels”; and the most depressing lie was that “Trump won the election”.

Even Pinocchio and his buddies Snow White and Superman got into the act. They were out for a little stroll in Disneyworld one afternoon and came across a sign: “Beauty contest for the most beautiful woman in the world.” Snow White decided to enter and returned extremely elated. She had won First Place. Then they saw an ad for a contest to decide who was the strongest man in the world. Superman flew off and returned boasting, “I won first prize by miles.” Then they saw a third sign. “Contest – Who is the greatest liar in the world?” Pinocchio was sure he, too, would win a first prize. After half an hour he returned with tears in his eyes. His friends ask him, “What happened?” Pinocchio replied angrily, “Who the hell is Donald Trump?”

Fortunately for all of us here in Trinidad and Tobago, we don’t have a problem like that with our leader. No siree! Less than a week ago, the NEWSDAY newspaper ran this headline, “PM responds to OWTU (Oilfield Workers Trade Union) head’s claims over meeting invite: I am not a liar.” However, it seems that “I am not a liar” was not a direct statement from the prime minister in a Facebook post in which he sought to “defend his character”. The prime minister’s response to being called a liar was, “I am accustomed to this.” Incredibly, several other media outlets also added the “I am not a liar” reference although it was not in the Facebook post. To me, it makes clear the extremely high regard in which our PM is held by the local journalism organisations. They were so certain that he is not a liar that they added the quote on their own accord. All I can say to this is, “Pinocchio, Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, eat your hearts out!”

* Tony Deyal was last seen saying that to be superb at lying you have to lie until you convince yourself and other people, especially the media, that you’re not a liar- that’s the real secret of lying.



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