Scientific Report: The Invention of Lying: Language, Logic & Cognition

H. van Ditmarsch, P. Hendriks, R. Verbrugge


Description and aim Lying is an everyday phenomenon that is central to social inter-action. The aim of this workshop was to bring together researchers from the humanities, social sciences and exact sciences to explore the possibilities of connecting the various strands of research on lying and verbal deception. The goal was to contribute to a comprehensive account of these phenomena from the perspectives of linguistics, logic, psychology, computer science, artificial intelligence, cognitive science and biology. The five themes of the workshop were (i) the production of lies, (ii) the detection of lies, (iii) costs and benefits of lying, (iv) individual and cultural differences in deception, and (v) the future of lying.


Outcome A tangible outcome of the workshop is a special issue proposal to the journal Topics in Cognitive Science on lying and deception. The contributions to this special issue will be partially based on presentations given during the workshop, but other contributions, resulting from interaction of different communities during the workshop, will also be made. There are 14 expressions of interest for submission. The special issue trajectory is likely to take more than a year before completion.


Aha moments A strong aspect of the workshop was the interaction of rather different communities. Both keynote talks, shorter talks, and a rump session of ash talks were given at the workshop. To mention some `outlier' subjects: Giorgio Ganis (Plymouth Uni), active in cognitive neuroscience, gave a splendid presentation on di erent brain areas activated when subjects tell the truth or tell lies; Marija Slavkovik (Bergen Uni), gave a survey of lying in judgement aggregation and voting - strategic voting is a form of lying. Various participants observed openly that they had never guessed that lying was so actively and widely pursued in communities very different from their own.


Organization/Format The workshop started each day at 10:00 in the morning. This format seemed to work well. For each of the five topics mentioned above, three to five discussion groups were formed every day, wherein subthemes of those topics were discussed in depth. For example, for `Production of lies', a subtheme was `Can lies be categorized in terms of complexity?' and for `Detection of lies', a subtheme was `Can one distinguish lies from mistakes?'. Attendance of groups was open to change. People shifted widely between different discussion groups, as was our intention. A Boerhaave Lecture on Tuesday evening was part of the workshop. This asked for some improvisation, as the originally proposed speaker unfortunately had to cancel a few days before the start of the workshop. We are indebted to Jan Henk van der Velden, who talked on lying from the perspective of active law practice, to stand in at the last minute. Various participants to the lying workshop were actively involved with Lorentz staff on future workshop proposals, encouraged by our workshop: what higher praise is possible for the Lorentz Center setup? We thank all Lorentz staff for their help and encouragement, and in particular Eline Pollaert for her unfailing assistance, at all times and hours, including weekends.