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WILD COOT: How to spot a liar

Harry Russell

WILD COOT: How to spot a liar

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An old lady called me in a panic.
“Wild Coot,” she said, “you of all people should know how to spot a liar. You must have told and received many in your short life.”
Lord, look my crosses!
“Many customers must have confronted you in your time and you had to sift truth from fiction. Furthermore, you have been in the Coliseum with those political fellows and should know something about lying.”
I did not like the direction of the conversation.
Yes, I had a great deal of experience in detecting a liar – there is an art to it that a lending banker must acquire, a kind of gut feeling that should not be ignored.
One of the telltale signs can be detected in the eyes. If a customer cannot look you in the eye when making his case or his eyes are shifty, then ten to one he is lying.
Look for the way he is using his hands to touch his ears or his face or to pull at his clothing or generally appear nervous; these may be signs of uncertainty or that fibs are afoot. If his fidgeting is consistent with a previous lie, it is a definite indication of a fabrication.
Listen to the way he speaks; if he raises his voice at an unusual time, it could be a prelude to a big lie. He is winding up. Same for politicians!
There are other signs, but not everyone goes into a bank to borrow money. So the old lady continued to enlighten me on how politicians do lie. She said that adults vote in an election; they need to know how to detect who is truthful and who is a liar – or, as she said, a stranger to the truth.
She said, “If a politician rants and raves like a madman on the platform, then you know that he is loco, cannot be trusted, and his peroration can be ignored.
“If a politician is always looking back at the others on the platform, you know that he is delivering a lie, a lie that the others have agreed to.
“If a politician leans on the podium and can scarcely be heard, he is seeking support because there is no truth in what he is saying.
“God does not like liars; he condemns them to the lake of fire and sulphur.” – Revelations 21:8.
“Remember that the Lord destroys those who tell lies. The Lord is disgusted with bloodthirsty and deceitful people. Mark you, these observations will eliminate most political speakers. It is only a few who will tell you the truth.
“If the logic of a speaker is simple, understandable, but so persuasive that the listener needs to look forward to hard work and some sacrifice, maybe, just maybe, he can be trusted. The likelihood is that he is discerning of the real problems affecting the country, its citizens and the private sector.
“But the politician who must be feared above all is the wolf in sheep’s clothing. This is the politician who uses a little learning to obfuscate the problems that the country is confronted with. He uses sophistry and irrelevant historical argument to advance his case.                                                                    
“A politician whose love for his people and their welfare may cause him to defy popular logic and stand up for wrongdoers. Even if it means that the excrement of their existence [poisons] the drinking water, he and his colleagues justify the vote that they seek. It’s the best way to kill ‘we’ with a diet of crap.
“We have entered a new phase in our quest for First World status.”
I said to the old lady, “Did you know that Barbados is the eighth most indebted country in the entire 190 nations of the world with a debt to gross domestic product (value of all production in a year) ratio of 117 per cent, around US$4.5 billion. And you telling me about liars and idiotic behaviour! Yet Nero fiddles!
“But that is not all – add the millions in unpaid salaries, allowances, refunds, internal borrowings, IOUs, CLICO promises, Mr Barrack and so on and we might very well be number one.”
• Harry Russell is a banker.