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You're Lying! by Lena Sisco

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10

E Is for Extract the Truth: Verbal Tells

My 10-year-old niece Christine said to me, “Auntie Lena! You are not going to believe this, but, um, I can hold my breath for five minutes!” I replied, “Really?” She giggled and said, “Well, almost! Come watch me and count!” Now, I know she can’t hold her breath for five minutes; if she could, she’d be in the Guinness Book of World Records. But if she had said, “Auntie Lena! You are not going to believe this, but, um, I got an A in math on my report card!” I still wouldn’t have believed her, for two reasons: first, she hedged her statement by indirectly telling me not to believe her; and second, she paused and used a filler word (“um”). Both of these clues together in one sentence tell me that whatever ...

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