This has led to suggestions that human beings are 'born to lie' and that this is a unique quality of our species.
As someone who has devoted a lifetime to studying human and animal behaviour, I have to report that this is actually (5)_________ from being the truth.
Mankind may be the most adept species at telling fibs, but we are far from alone.
A young chimpanzee in captivity, for example, is just as capable of 'lying', as I have witnessed on many occasions, most commonly when human handlers, working with young chimps, have to leave them alone. (6)________ human babies, the apes really hate (7)___________ left alone, and for this reason, their handlers, (8)_________ have become their 'family', should ideally never be out of sight. Even (9)_________ the handlers always do their best to avoid going away for too long, some absence is unavoidable. In (10)__________ a situation, and as soon as the young ape knows it is going to be left alone, it will start protesting vocally, and these protests can be heard as the handler leaves the building. The screaming stops when the door is slammed, (11)__________ at this point the ape knows that the handler can (12)________ longer hear him. It has total control (13)_________ its crying and can switch it on and off whenever it likes. The crying is actually a deliberate signal, rather (14)________ an uncontrollable outburst. But (15)________ this is a case of "real" lying rather depends on how you look at it.
doting: showing a lot of love for somebody, often ignoring their faults.- E.g. a doting mother/father. Her doting parents Sp. sus padres, que la adoran.
cuddle: the action of holding somebody close in your arms to show love or affection. Hug. E.g.
to give somebody a cuddle.
crave: crave (for) something; crave to do something to have a very strong desire for something. Long for. E.g. She has always craved excitement.
adept: /əˈdept/ adept (at/in something) adept (at/in doing something) good at doing something that is quite difficult. Skilful. E.g. He became adept at getting even the shyest students to talk.
fib: a statement that is not true; a lie about something that is not important. Sp. mentirijilla. E.g. Stop telling fibs.
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If a diving footballer stops writhing in agony because he has spotted that the referee is ignoring him, then certainly his writhing was a lie. He was not hurt, only pretending to be so. But that is very different from the ape and the baby.
In their cases, they were genuinely distressed at being left alone. Both wanted to be comforted with a hug and a cuddle, and both set about using the crying signal as a way of sending this message to their carers.
The fact that the signals were deliberate and not out of-control outbursts, does not make them real lies. Babies and young apes have no other means of attracting help. Crying is their only weapon.
This may seem a trivial matter, but it can, in fact, lead to lethal misunderstandings. To say that a baby who cries deliberately to gain more attention is a little liar out to dominate its parents is an old refrain.
It was used many years ago to justify a brutal approach to child-rearing that was based on the idea that parents had to 'break the spirit' of their infants, rather like breaking a horse.
Babies had to be put outside in their prams to get fresh air, regardless of the weather, and if they cried they were only trying to get the better of you.
If you left them long enough, they would stop their crying and give up their cunning attempt at world domination.
As a baby, I belonged to the generation that suffered from this rearing doctrine. Left crying in my pram in a harsh east wind, I developed double pneumonia and nearly died.
After that, my mother decided to abandon the teachings of the day and trust to her maternal instincts, treating crying, in all its forms, correctly as a call for help.
These new research discoveries from Portsmouth University, claiming that babies are little liars, may be making a valuable distinction between controlled and uncontrollable crying.
But if they are used as an excuse to take us back to the Draconian teachings of earlier days, then the babies of the present generation could start to suffer as I did all those years ago.
Yet it is unquestionably the case that small children do learn, very early, the art of 'tactical deception'.
The new research suggests that, by the age of two, toddlers are already devious, pretending that they don't care, when they are threatened with a punishment, when it is obvious that they do.
This may be more like a true lie, but again, there is nothing uniquely human about it.
There was a time when I used to present animal programmes from the London Zoo and the star of those shows was a two-year-old chimp called Congo.
Congo lived with the television unit at the zoo and we were all his adopted family.
When a new secretary arrived, he took an instant dislike to her and one day, when he had been left alone by his carer, Congo saw his chance, leapt on her and bit her savagely. She ran out of the room pouring blood.
Congo's carer, hearing her screams, rushed back to see what had happened.
Congo's behaviour at this point was extraordinary. Instead of bouncing up and down and hooting for his food as usual, he had gone across the room, opened the door of his sleeping cage and entered the cage, (something he had never done voluntarily before), shut the door behind him and was now sitting there, the picture of innocence, staring silently up at the ceiling.
The carer opened the door of the cage, spoke harshly to him and tapped him on the head.
Young chimps are very sensitive to 'parental' disapproval and, under normal circumstances, this rebuke would have been seen by him as a serious punishment and would have led to pathetic screaming and begging for immediate cuddling.
Uniquely, on this occasion, Congo, simply kept staring at the ceiling with his lips pursed, as though he didn't care that he was being punished.
He was lying, because we knew that he disliked being shut away in his sleeping quarters and hated being shouted at.
He craved love and couldn't stand disapproval. But on this one occasion it was as if the triumph he had gained by defeating the hated secretary was worth any amount of punishment, and he was determined to bluff it out.
How many times have you witnessed that very same behaviour from a mischievous toddler?
For parents, often driven to distraction by the 'devious' antics of their offspring, this habitual lying that we share in common with the apes has to be stamped out by any means possible - it cannot be tolerated.
This has always struck me as a peculiar contradiction in a sophisticated species like ours. We tell our children, in the severest terms, that they must always be honest and that it is wicked to lie.
Yet this is done despite the certain knowledge that the vast majority of our adult life is spent lying.
Most of us do it every single day, with such ease and regularity that we scarcely notice we are doing it - often we do it in order to avoid hurting somebody's feelings, or to avoid causing them anxiety.
Your great-aunt tells you that she has spent six weeks knitting you a scarf and asks whether you like it.
If you follow your childhood teaching that it is wicked to lie and tell her the truth - that it is awful, and you will never wear it - she will be deeply and unnecessarily hurt.
If, on the other hand, you lie and say that it is beautiful, you have earned her love and continued support. And here is the heart of the matter.
For in fact, without the copious use of 'white lies' our social relations would soon disintegrate.
In some professions - doctors, nurses, politicians and diplomats - the art of lying is the very basis of their skill, as a way of reducing stress in patients, or handling delicate negotiations.
And if you want to see lying taken to genius level, all you have to do is attend the World Poker Championship in Las Vegas - which is in effect nothing more than the Lying Olympics.
So, yes, it is true that human beings are born liars, better even than chimpanzees. But that does not make us bad people - it is the very reason we are such a successful and civilised species.
bluff it out to get out of a difficult situation by continuing to tell lies, especially when people suspect you are not being honest. Survive a difficult situation by maintaining a pretence. E.g. there’s no point in trying to bluff it out.
antics /ˈæntɪks/ behaviour which is silly and funny in a way that people usually like. Behaviour which is ridiculous or dangerous. Sp. payasadas, travesuras. E.g. The bank staff got up to all sorts of antics to raise money for charity. A comic who performs wacky (crazy) antics on his TV show
Adapted from The Daily Mail