By Chris Simmons
Yesterday we covered the simple beauty of the Liar’s Law of Attraction. As readers are aware, the biggest limitation of this Law is that it simply identifies that a lie of omission has occurred. In contrast, if one is willing to tell a lie to catch a liar, you can get to the truth by capitalizing on the liar’s existing paranoia and irrationality.
For example, let’s assume I’m interrogating a suspected terrorist. I begin our interaction by recounting many – if not all – of the facts we both secretly know to be true. I then add a false fact to use as a red herring. In contrast to the original’s law’s focus on the familiar, in this variation the liar immediately focuses on the unfamiliar as a potential way out of his current dilemma.
I truthfully accuse him of two bombings in Baghdad in April, May bombings in Basra and Kirkuk, and a July assassination in Ramadi. I then lie and accuse him of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack on a convoy out of the northern city of Mosul just two weeks ago.
My version of the events has caught him by surprise and provided him with an alibi. He immediately responds by claiming we’ve captured the wrong man. He was nowhere near Mosul two weeks ago and insists that he has friends and family that can verify he has been in Kirkuk for the last two months.
An honest person would have focused on the broader strategic implications of my accusations. i.e., you are a terrorist with a long history of violence against people and property. You will be tried for war crimes.
Instead, fear and paranoia manifest in the classic “freeze, fight or flight” defense. My lie appears to have offered the terrorist a way out (i.e., the ability to flee) and he fixates on the opportunity to escape. What he doesn’t realize is that by focusing on an event that never occurred, he has inadvertently admitted to the other attacks.