Experts on deception say Armstrong's lies are not so different from our own

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Associated Press

Posted on January 18, 2013 at 12:33 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 18 at 12:34 PM

UNDATED (AP) — He now has a reputation as a liar and cheater -- but experts say Lance Armstrong isn't as different from the rest of us as we'd like to believe.

They say lying is part of the human condition -- something that most people do every day.

David Livingstone Smith, a professor of philosophy at the University of New England in Maine says lying is "as automatic and unconscious as sweating." Smith, who wrote a book called "Why We Lie," says parents teach children at an early age that "it's OK to lie, just not to me."

Robert Feldman, a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts, says people in Armstrong's situation have what Feldman calls the "liar's advantage" because they are telling us what we want to believe. He says people want to believe that Armstrong came back from cancer to win the Tour de France.

Dan Ariely, who teaches psychology and behavioral economics at Duke, says people find that they can "cheat a little bit, and still feel good about ourselves." He says Armstrong cheated in a bigger way because the stakes were higher, and the system allowed him to do so.

And he says all cheaters have a huge ability to rationalize what they do -- saying, for example, "Everyone else was doing it."

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