Why do pathological liars lie?

Answered Jan 16, 2019

I’ve known some severe liars. People who were so bad that literally nothing that they said, about any subject, could be trusted.

Some reasons:

  • They want something from you (money, sex, drug-enabling, etc), and think that lying will manipulate you into complying. It may sound logical, but they often use obvious lies, without rational anticipation of the lie’s chances of working.
  • They want to avoid consequences for their bad behaviour, which was also pathological. Again, some of these lies are obvious.
  • Lying as a shortcut to social status. This can include the common boasting about money, accomplishments, etc. It can also include boasting about the cool things that they are “going to” do in the near future. They want that status and admiration immediately, without having to take the time and energy to do the work involved. I once had a neighbour who loudly boasted about how she was “going to” quit smoking and start up a healthy lifestyle, expecting immediate admiration. She almost forgot that she had a cigarette in her hand at the time. And no, she never quit or, exercised, or ate healthily.
  • A related point is trying to seem like a more interesting person. Out of fear that honesty will result in being perceived as a boring loser.
  • A related status issue is lying to a social clique or other group to push someone else down the hierarchy, as a way of reducing competition.
  • Constant fantasising. And saying things (sometimes quite casually) as if the fantasy were reality. Including things that are physically impossible.
  • Fear of the truth, with desperate attempts to avoid facing it. They lie partly in order to convince and comfort themselves.
  • Lying out of embarrassment over revealing what they really think. Such as holding bigoted attitudes, but refusing to admit it. Or having competition-based envy and hostility, but claiming that the hostility is due to the target being dysfunctional or bad.
  • Making up “rules” for how everyone else “has to” behave. Including in friendships, sexual relationships, workplaces, etc, etc. They don’t claim that it is their personal rules. They claim that, there are simply universal “rules” of all human interactions, which are coincidentally whatever they think serves them, practically or emotionally.
  • Minimisation. Claiming that their bad behaviour wasn’t really so bad, so you don’t have a position to object, or to impose consequences. Also, minimisation of the importance of other lies. Such as, “That was a white lie, so you don’t have any right to stop trusting me over it”.
  • Repetition. If they keep repeating it over and over, you will get tired of the conflict that you allegedly cause by refusing to believe them. And will be worn down into actually believing them.
  • Failure to anticipate any limits to your willingness to trust them and to continue interacting with them. No matter how many times you have caught them lying, they assume that you will stick around, and will desperately try to see them as trustworthy. They think that your desire to trust them is just as infinite as their inclination to lie. Including when they tell the same lie, yet again.
  • A related point is, “This time it’s different”. I once had someone repeat a previous lie, admitting that it had been a lie before, while insisting, “That was then, and this is a different time. So you have to trust that I am telling the truth this time, and don’t have the right to judge me for the previous time”.
  • A related mechanism is trying new angles. They will tell a lie, and you refuse to believe them. Then, they will immediately tell a different lie, which contradicts the first lie. They think that they can can just try a series of different lies, until they find the one that you are willing to believe.
  • Another related point is using your empathy or your desire to “help”them with their bad life situations (which are the result of their own bad behaviour). They assume that your empathy is endless, no matter how much they abuse it (and you). They try to use your empathy to keep you involved, while convincing you to buy into their definition of “help”, which is really enabling of their bad behaviour.
  • They are confident that you cannot prove that they are lying. Including when they lie about the content of previous conversations between the two of you. Or even things they said earlier in the same conversation.
  • They want to lash out. They will come up with anything to say that they expect will hurt you emotionally/psychologically. They may even admit this, to try to avoid consequences (e.g. you abandoning them).
  • Stimulant drugs. People using cocaine or amphetamine are notorious for compulsive lying. If they have been using for some time, they will compulsively lie even when they aren’t under the influence at the moment. Even other addicts (e.g. to sedating drugs) view these people as bad news.
  • Dominance games. If they lie, and you believe them, they have dominated you.
  • Desperation to pull you down into their loser mentality. I once had an acquaintance who insisted that, no employer will ever pay any employee more than minimum wage, so it is stupid to put forth any extra effort or skills. They claim they are trying to “help” you to avoid wasting effort, when they are really motivated by frightened envy/competition.
  • A related point is trying to minimise anything good in your life. They will lie to avoid the feeling that you may be winning some kind of competition. Including when you have zero interest in competing.
  • Covering up their ignorance. They don’t want to admit that they don’t know something, so they invent some convenient-sounding pseudo-information about it. This includes insisting that they know better than you (even if you have substantial relevant knowledge and experience).
  • Just world hypothesis. They are afraid of vulnerability, so they insist that, bad things only happen to those who deserve it. And look for ways to apply that to a given situation where someone else experiences adversity or victimisation.

What all of this comes down to is desperation for control. And desperate people do dysfunctional and often blatantly unworkable things.

Facing how things really are is like surrendering. Lying that things are some other way, is an attempt to control the situation.

Facing the fact that you won’t/don’t believe them is like surrendering to you. Lying with you believing them, means controlling you, even if there is nothing practical to be gained.

Why do doctors wait until chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure or blood sugar become acute enough to cause damage before they will begin treatment? Why not start treatment with lower dose medications before damage begins?

Answered Jan 7, 2019

There are two angles here. Which relate to things other than blood pressure and blood glucose.

First, some patients are actually over-paranoid about minor symptoms or indications on tests. And some of them use “Dr. Google” to encourage that paranoia.

Also, some patients are negligent, and have behaviours which cause/encourage their medical damage.

Second, there are doctors (with actual legit medical degrees) who are cavalier, and even incompetent, to the point of compromising patient safety/health/lifespan.

I have personally witnessed a situation where a very informed/knowledgeable patient faced a dismissive and ignorant doctor.

The patient tried to explain major issues in her medical history, and the doctor didn’t seem to comprehend. And also failed to write down basic things like medication use, while denying the patient’s concerns about side-effects. Which are actually mentioned in the information sheet included with the prescription pills. And which the patient had studied by reading legitimate scientific journal articles (because she is actually a scientist).

That doctor failed to comprehend the timeframe of the symptoms, and ordered tests, which the patient (who has a degree in a relevant field) knew were irrelevant.

A different, actually-relevant set of blood tests came back with alarming numbers (with the patient’s eyes bugging out as she read it). And that doctor dismissed it as, “Some people are out of range, everything is just fine for them”. Without mentioning that, only 2.5 percent of the population is in that group. And getting a creepy tone when the patient said that she would compare the recent readings with some previous ones.

And, speaking of creepy, that doctor got a creepy tone when the patient requested further tests for a viral disease which may have been sexually transmitted (although she was later cleared on that).

That patient was also bullied by a nurse at the same clinic, trying to convince her that she is in menopause, when she knows otherwise.

The patient was told that, her physical symptoms aren’t real.

She wasn’t trying to scam sympathy or pain meds. She was trying to stop vomiting.

That patient is now awaiting evaluation for a potentially life-threatening (and actually rather common) condition. And won’t be seeing that doctor again, unless necessary to pick up results from a referral (N.B. this is the New Zealand public heath system). Delayed diagnosis and treatment increases the danger of an emergency arising.

There is an enormous culture of condescension towards patients, by medical professionals. They assume that you couldn’t possibly know anything about how the human body is put together, or how it works. They assume that you don’t know your own medical history, or your risk factors, or your symptoms.

Some of them simply don’t listen when you try to give them important information.

Also regarding the NZ public heath system, we have waiting lists here. This became a political issue 10 or 15 years ago, with excessive time frames. The government solved that by kicking people off of waiting lists for examinations and procedures. Just to make the lists look shorter and more efficient.

They have actually told people that they aren’t sick enough, and to reapply when their problem becomes worse. Which for some, will inevitably happen, increasing the chance of complications, emergencies, and fatalities.

How can all the complexities of creating a human being be encoded in just 2.3 gigabytes of DNA data?

Answered Jan 7, 2019

A few issues here.

The information in the human 46 chromosomes is fairly large. Some of this is recycled programming that has been selected for efficiency for billions of years. Basic things like bilateral symmetry body plans (Hox genes), or like glycolysis (a standard series of enzyme reactions), have been refined towards using the least possible resources. The least possible base pairs and protein machinery. Although some things are still obviously kludges and cobbled together.

Processes that were “invented” by bacteria, worms, and insects, going back three billion years ago, are still present in humans.

Some genes have more than one possible product. Their RNA transcripts have multiple possible combinations of exons, known as alternative splicing.

Each individual human also has Epigenetics. On a basic level, this is what tells your liver cells to be different to your skin cells. They all carry the same 46 chromosomes, but the different cell tissue types express the gene sets differently. This uses manipulation of DNA, and also manipulation of histone tail charges.

This starts with cell division, when some proteins have a higher concentration at one end. And that end divides off to become a differentiated type of cell.

A muscle cell and a liver cell and other cell types all contain your full genome. The difference is in which genes are actually expressed (turned on and triggering production of proteins).

Epigenetic changes can be completely normal and basic and necessary. But, sometimes can be hazardous, and caused by exposure to toxins or other things, including malnutrition and psychological stress.

In addition to epigenetics, there are also transcription factors, which look for certain types of genes that are needed at a given moment. They may be triggered by stimulus at the cell membrane, and then go to the nucleus to turn on production of some product that is needed to respond. This is an area of those cobbled-together kludges.

The most complex thing about humans is consciousness, including emotions. It seems unfathomably complex and mysterious. Like A, C, G, and T couldn’t possibly add up to that. But it’s really just an egotistical illusion based on molecules.

My guess is that, the question-asker (or other people who think of this type of issue) may be thinking of spiritual/religious ideas and direction. And I’ll admit to contemplating biology, and seeing it as magical. But it’s more important and realistic to admit that we are just really complicated machines.

What would be the worst weaponized bacteria or virus?

Answered Dec 28, 2018

Biological weapons have existed for many years.

In the middle ages, an attacking army would use siege engines to catapult corpses of animals and humans who had died of various plague diseases, over the walls of castles and fortified cities.

Two future versions come to mind.

First is an intense, but short term strategy.

You would want something which spread very easily, and killed people quickly. However, you might want to occupy the geographic area afterwards, and so need some way to keep your own soldiers and colonists safe.

With a virus, you would need an enveloped influenza. They spread easily, but also degrade quickly when sitting on a surface, or exposed to air.

With a bacteria, you would need something with multi-antibiotic resistance genes (that you could insert, and/or select for). However, you would also need to have either a better antibiotic (to give to your own occupying people), or some way to turn off the resistance genes (with drugs, or chemicals that you spray on surfaces, etc). Drug development is time-consuming, so your opponent could be working on it simultaneously. Turning genes on/off is complicated, even in controlled lab conditions.

Second, would be a “salt the earth” strategy. Which would be easier and simpler.

This means not only killing everyone in the target area, but also never occupying it, or using it. For this, you need a spore-former. Such as Bacillus anthracis – Anthrax. Or something in the same category, but even more obnoxious. These can last for decades in a harsh desert, and then sprout and kill in human-friendly conditions.

A third possibility is indirect. Humans are dependent on animals and plants for food.

Some microbes will target animal livestock, or will target food-crop plants. You could use either bacteria or fungus, depending on your exact target and timeframe.

This isn’t a bullet that can only be shot once, at one target. It isn’t a bomb that explodes, and then you never hear it again.

Biological weapons will be quite happy to turn on their alleged makers.

What are the diseases caused by bacteriophage viruses?

Answered Dec 26, 2018

As the name suggests, bacteriophages infect bacteria. They cannot infect humans, other animals, or plants.

However, some phages have genes that code for peptide toxins, which are then released by the bacterium host.

So the phage infects the bacteria, and provides the genetic information to produce the toxin. When you get infected by the bacteria (e.g. from contaminated water or food), it releases the toxin, which makes you sick.

This is kind of a symbiotic relationship between the phage and the bacteria species. The phage gets to spread and reproduce itself, and the bacteria receives information to become more virulent. When the toxin induces diarrhea, that helps to spread the bacteria host and the phage inside it.

Human diseases involving phage coded toxins include botulism, cholera, diphtheria, scarlet fever, and a few others. Here is a list.

Why is New Zealand not recycling? Is New Zealand not recyling?

Answered Dec 21

Other commentators have focused on the actions of households. The problem is the ultimate destination of the material.

On the surface, there appears to be plenty of recycling occurring. Cities have recycling bins available, and pick up the contents weekly.

But where does it go?

Into a big pile.

The reasons are economic.

The material must be transported to a recycling facility. Which may be hundreds of kilometres away. Or may be overseas, such as in China. The cost of transport may be higher than the market value of the material.

What do you do when the Chinese government restricts importation of the material?

Put it in a big pile, right here in New Zealand.

An alternative is sending it to Malaysia. Where they put it in a big pile, and openly burn it.

NZ’s recycling crisis after China ban: ‘This situation is not sustainable’

New Zealand’s plastic stockpile is at 400 tonnes and could be going mouldy

Kiwis’ recycling is piling up in Malaysia and being burnt in secret, environmentalists say

What collaboration is currently taking place in protein chemistry and protein folding research?

Answered Dec 21

A recent example is:

Community Wide Experiment on the Critical Assessment of Techniques for Protein Structure Prediction

They run an annual competition, where they publicly post primary sequences of proteins.

If I understand correctly, they already know the 3-D structures, but haven’t publicly released those.

Then, many research groups around the world use the primary sequences to attempt to solve the final structures, and submit their predictions.

This year’s winner, by far, was Google’s Deep Mind AI AlphaFold project.

AlphaFold apparently uses a large database of publicly known sequence and structure solutions. Then, it compares those solved sequences with the new sequences. Apparently it makes a number of possible predictions, and finds the one with the lowest final Gibbs energy level.

It’s pretty cool, although it isn’t clear whether their system is just trying to go directly from primary sequence to final structure. Or whether it attempts to find the series of intermediary conformations that real proteins go through. That is important, since one intermediary fold may be required to trigger the next fold.

Do narcissists fear consequences?

Answered Dec 19

They don’t understand how consequences work.

The personality-disordered person expects that, she will do whatever impulsive action comes to mind, and that, everyone else will respond by giving or doing whatever she wants. The disorder prevents them from anticipating any negative consequences for themselves.

Later, when the negative consequence has just been imposed, they still refuse to draw the connection. And will insist that, the negative consequence is due to someone being mean-spirited towards them. And “wasn’t” really a reasonable reaction to the disordered person’s abusive behaviour.

This prevents them from learning from past negative consequences. They will do the exact same abusive behaviour again and again. Fully expecting that, this time, everyone else will cooperate.

They can feel fear, but they often cannot apply that to decision-making.

I might say, “If you do XYZ behaviour, then I will respond with ABC negative consequence”. And the behaviour is obviously abusive, and my response is simply removing myself from abuse-range.

What they hear is, “Blah, blah, blah, I am going to harm you, and deprive you of what you are entitled to”.

Also, some personality-disordered individuals view everything as a dominance-fight. If you set a rule by stating action→consequence, they will view that as you attempting to dominate them. So they will feel compelled to violate that rule, to prove that you are powerless to enforce it, and powerless to impose consequences. So that they can take the dominant position.

Personality-disordered people are also profoundly lacking in empathy. This isn’t simply that they cannot “feel your pain”. It is that they cannot anticipate or understand your motivation for responding negatively to their actions. Or your motivation to impose negative consequences.

They also lack the empathy to understand anyone else’s perspective on consequences. They will never respect your right to control your own behavioural choices, based on rational anticipation of consequences.

What is it like to have an abusive mother?

Updated Dec 22

I have an abusive society, which bullies me with their delusion that mothers are all saintly, innocent widdle creatures.

The abusive mother was jettisoned decades ago. The abusive society will always, always, always try to shove its delusional denial and victim-blaming down my throat.

What the abusive society has taught me is that, my moral standing is magically unrelated to any of my own actions. Because only an eeeevvvile sack of excrement would either:

  • Lie, and falsely accuse poor widdle Mommy of being violent.
  • Accurately describe poor widdle Mommy’s violence, but actively, deliberately caused her to behave in that manner, against her will.
  • Be born to an abuser (i.e. one’s morality and violence-deserving is determined before being conceived).

You can grow up and get away from the abusive mother. But you cannot escape the abusive society.

Anyone who didn’t/doesn’t have an abusive mother, lives in a fantasy world, which entitles them to be a participant in the abusive society.