Seems that little fibs lead to big whoppers. Scientists are now reporting that they have the proof. Unless of course . . . they’re stretching things a bit. 🙂
NPR.org reports that researchers from University College London and Duke University asked 80 volunteers to estimate the value of pennies in a jar, then swap their guesses with an unseen partner. In order to incentivize some of the participants to lie, the liars were told they could keep the difference in cash between their guess and that of their partner. Initially, the estimates were inflated by only small amounts. Over time, however, the exaggerations gradually became bigger and bigger.
During the experiment, the researchers monitored the participants’ brains. They found that activity in the “amygdalae,” the emotional processing hub, was strongest when the participants told their first lie, but decreased as their dishonesty escalated. The conclusion: feelings of shame, guilt, and nervousness eased the more the participants lied. More: researchers compared this “adaptive” effect to the way a strong scent become less potent the more you smell it.
Question for the researchers: might the same be true of other negative behaviors, such as violent acts and excessive risk taking?
Some applications and considerations for the rest of us:
89% percent of Republicans reportedly called Hillary’s emails a very serious problem, but only 16% of Democrats did. I’d like to know the amygdalae levels of those Democrats. Especially Hillary. 🙂
Oy, look at that punim. The face of the sweetest, most adorable, grandmother ever. Right? Wrong!
CNN recently severed all ties with longtime Democratic strategist and former contributor Donna Brazile, hours after then newly released hacked emails posted by WikiLeaks showed Brazile—while serving as acting chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee—had, twice no less, shared confidential questions with John Podesta, Clinton campaign chairman, ahead of a CNN debate and an earlier CNN town hall discussion between Clinton and then opponent Bernie Sanders. Obviously short on integrity, but long on street smarts, Brazile and Podesta (and Clinton) quietly crawled away without comment—and with their tails between their legs. In contrast, with no WikiLeaks hacks of any CNN emails, CNN was able to deny that its staffers gave Brazile the questions, but did acknowledge that her behavior had threatened the network’s impartiality—and was nothing short of . . . “disgusting.”
Do you think our researchers would love to test the amygdalae levels of Brazile and Podesta? And Clinton? And CNN executives who had those questions? In the name of science only of course. (After all the election is finally over. Isn’t it?) 🙂
And while we’re on the amygdalae starved Clintons, our Grifters-In-Chief, and their consistent—and constant—denials of any pay to play improprieties between their Bill Clinton, Inc. foundation and Hillary’s State Department: consider the WikiLeaks revealed 13-page emailed memo of Douglas Band, a former top aide to President Bill, detailing and bragging about his work for the Clintons, and obviously written before the Clintons could infuse Band’s amygdalae (and defuse his ego) levels. Band chronicles that he lined up “around” $50 million in work for President Bill, including $3.5 million per year for serving as “honorary chairman” of some university I’ve never heard of. Unfortunately, I don’t have the space, or the time, to do justice to Band’s memo—or the amygdalae challenged Clintons, but suffice it to say that Band’s memo shows that those who paid to play reaped extraordinary returns on their investments.
And before we turn to what is to me the real point of the amygdalae study, let us not overlook the world champion amygdalae-less champion of them all, President-elect The Donald. But, hey, he won, so it’s just eccentric, politically astute and . . . cute. Cute? The Donald?
Okay, so on to what indeed is to me perhaps the most significant aspect of all this amygdalae-less justification for lying. Around 44% of all adults in the U.S. say they get their daily news fix from Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. That part’s true. The Donald’s twitter followers probably exceed The NY Times subscribers several times over. Access to an audience of that size would seem to demand some kind of civic responsibility, by the republishers themselves, if not our representatives as well. But, then again, there’s that amygdalae problem again. Do they even notice?
This problem comes in all sizes and shapes and is growing. Bogus articles about Pope Francis endorsing The Donald. The fake “ABC News” story: “I was paid $3,500 to show up and protest at Trump rallies.” (Really? $3,500 to some sad soul with nothing better to do who would have taken the gig for $350, or less.) And on and on and on. And I do mean on and on and on.
This nonsense often goes viral because lots of Toms, Dicks and Henriettas out there so willing and eager to buy into any story that reinforces their entrenched beliefs spread this noise. And compound the noise of the campaigning candidates. That adds up to a lotta noise, which then makes it tough to get to the real news. (And even a doubting curmudgeon like me still “secretly” likes being included on these email lists. You know, to break up the loneliness of writing my blogs and novels. How much golf and Pilates can one man take? And if you saw my golf game or my Pilates stylin’ you’d know what I mean.)
Do you think I’m exaggerating about all of this phony “news” traffic? Just to make a story? Not possible that I would do that. My amygdalae level is really high. Trust me, I checked. Would I lie to you? And besides, c’mon, we’ve all received countless emails from our friends republishing silliness to their email lists in the name of . . . “well, it might be true,” therefore it is. Those with a little more conscience assuage their guilt by adding somewhere in their email “I haven’t checked this out.” (Why not? It doesn’t take five minutes on Google to determine whether there’s any truth to these “news” stories. To bastardize a famous quote, “if the story seems absurd, it undoubtedly is.)
And worse than all the amateur noise makes out, consider the pros who are actually making a living off this phony news business.
And while we’re talking about all those adorable grandmothers out there telling it like it isn’t. Guess they aren’t the only ones! Ain’t that right, Michelle.
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