Kelley's Reviews > Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage

Telling Lies by Paul Ekman
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Jul 25, 2009

did not like it

I do love to go sit at the bookstore downtown during lunch, grabbing a bite at Lizard's. Whenever I step inside, I browse and then feel compelled to buy something. And every time I've made such an impulse purchase, I've been disappointed! Support your local indie, though, seems to be an affair with more misses than hits. And I'm wondering what's up with that. The last two books I bought at B&N on impulse were fine books. I think it is the indy bookstore's less than desirable stock. Not sure.

At any rate, contrary to the sales pitch on the book's back cover, Telling Lies does not seem to be made of the kind of stuff that could ever lead to an exciting television series. Its subtitle, "Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage," suggested that I might immediately be catapulted into scintillating and eye-opening analyses of advertising and commercial lies, why they succeed and fail, and perhaps how to spot a lie. For example, perhaps they could have discussed the infamous Coke Zero blog scam would have been a decent example of something recent, right out of the dumb criminals playbook. Or maybe talk about famous commercial lies. Not a chance.

So, failing that, you'd think I'd bee exposed to discussions of famous political lies. Well, there is some of that -- Nixon, John Dean, and a couple of obscure political incidents and figures. But nothing especially compelling, though the story about John Dean was interesting enough. Still, there was no discussion of Clinton -- let alone Bush. Why?

Basically, the message of this book is: It's rilly rilly rilly hard to tell if someone is lying. It all depends on circumstances, context, chance -- which is a fine thesis. Really, it is. But seriously? There is no "wealth of detailed, practical information about lying and lie detection" -- unless variation on the message, "it's complicated," constitute a "wealth" of anything.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Paulina I think you fell into the marketing trap. Visually and title-wise the book promises to be something else than what it really is, and it really is a good psychological book, as opposed to pop-scientific one.


Kelley I suspect marketing lie is the right phrase. Maybe subsequent editions could include a chapter on the lies used by his publisher to sell it as a book rather than the 60pp pamphlet it out to be sold as?


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