What It’s Like to Come Clean on Your Own Deceptions



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Watch the first episode of “We Are Wired That Way.”

The first episode of National Geographic’s five-part series “We Are Wired That Way” has been released on Facebook’s new Watch platform. To celebrate, we spoke with Erika Bergman, the show’s host and a National Geographic explorer who pilots submarines as she explores the ocean.

The first episode takes on the topic of why humans lie, the science of which was explored in-depth as part of National Geographic magazine’s June 2017 issue.

“Taking time to be introspective and exploring what makes us work or what’s inside of us is just as exciting as exploring what’s around us,” says Bergman.

She gave us insight into what it was like to film the episode and what she learned in the process.

How much did you know about why humans lie when you recorded the episode?

I think common sense and growing up taught me a lot about it. I had a pretty solid understanding of how to detect a lie just from personal experience. Filming that episode was really intense because I had to tell the whole crew and anyone who sees the episode about these lies that I’ve told people, and they didn’t have to reciprocate. That’s a very embarrassing situation, but it’s totally true.

I remember lying as a kid or as a teenager, and learning how to push the boundaries of what’s true and not true and what people will believe. But I still can’t always tell when other people are lying.

How did you choose the first example of a lie in the episode?

Lies are just really good stories, right? So I chose something where most of it would be really, really true, and one big obvious falsehood would be a kicker. Since submarines are so close to my heart and part of my daily life, it seemed easy to tell the truth about submarines and then have one big lie at the end.

What was your favorite part of the episode?

Admitting to my brother on a public video that I used to steal from his piggy bank! This is going to be the first time that he finds out about this, and I’m looking forward to that conversation with him afterwards.

My other favorite part might have been the hardest part. Most people have told a lie in the last 24 hours, which is insane to think about. But if you actually look back and try to figure out if you have lied in the past 24 hours, you probably did. For me, it was hard admitting that to people, but it was cathartic at the same time, because it’s rare that we admit to our daily lies.

What surprised you the most while recording it?

I think what surprised me was something that I could recognize in myself: Sometimes we tell lies without a purpose, for unknown reasons. It’s not to gain something or to fool somebody, it just happens and it’s not true. I learned that I’m not alone in sometimes telling a lie and not knowing why.

What do you hope that your audience will get out of the episode?

I hope they have fun listening to me admit to lying, and also start to take pleasure in admitting their own lies. I didn’t realize that we do it so often, and once you start to recognize it, admitting it to other people can actually be fun. Lying is such a weird thing that it’s almost amusing if you catch yourself telling one to then tell somebody about it and to laugh about it. It makes us more relatable and more human to one another. Since filming that episode, I’ve really started to get a kick out of admitting my little white lies all over the place; it makes people laugh.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.



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