The Bullshit Artist

by Madeline Laughs


We all know one. That person that exaggerates feats of accomplishment, the size of everything and just about anything you’ve done, they’ve done faster, better and easier and made more money than god doing it. No matter where you have been or who your family is, they have been there AND everywhere else and their family has done it all too.

This person is The Bullshit Artist.

One of my friends took great pains to point this out to me a while back when I was perplexed and befuddled over the alleged exploits of one of our mutual friends. He was very patient in his explanation and even placed a question at the end of it; “Get it now?” I will confess that I had to re-read this explanation a few times before I finally did get it. Then I marveled at my friend’s ability to know all of this and to still be so gracious and tolerant of our friend’s evident bad behavior. 

Where do Bullshit Artists come from? What makes them? How do they sustain their delusions and do they ever feel any remorse sharing obvious lies? I especially loved The Urban Dictionary’s definition!

Bullshit Artist  

A true master of verbal facade. A deceptive fuck that gets off on selling people worthless info as it were fact.To reach this ultimate level of mastery, the bullshiter becomes convinced that he or she is completely on the level at least 95% of the time …

Bullshit artist comes back from the gym”Man that was a hard work out. I benched out 180… a hot chick was checking my shit out.. she said “Your shit is nice”. No doubt I’ll score”

Oh yeah, no doubt brah! Hahahahahahaha! How someone can say stuff like this and maintain a straight face is beyond my comprehension, but a Bullshit Artist totally believes everything that comes out of their mouths.



But can a Bullshit Artist hurt you?

People that lie all the time about everything have absolutely no remorse. They can never experience empathy because they have no idea what that is or what it feels like. These individuals have no respect for anyone or anything because they have become incapable of the socially acceptable behavior you are taught at a very early age. This switch in their brain has never been triggered.

They also believe every lie they tell, especially if they tell it often enough. For them, it becomes their truth, their reality.

From the BBC News I read an article entitled Liars Brains Are Not the Same.

Habitual liars’ brains differ from those of honest people, a study says.

A University of Southern California team studied 49 people and found those known to be pathological liars had up to 26% more white matter than others. White matter transmits information and grey matter processes it. Having more white matter in the prefrontal cortex may aid lying, the researchers said, but the British Journal of Psychiatry said there were likely to be more differences in the brains of liars.

Manipulative behaviour

Participants were volunteers drawn from five temporary employment agencies in Los Angeles. Three separate groups were studied. The first consisted of 12 men and women with a history of being pathological liars; the second was 21 people who did not have a history of lying or anti-social behaviour. The third group consisted of 16 people with anti-social personality disorder but no history of pathological lying. They were studied to see if they showed the same brain make-up as liars.

The researchers drew up a list of criteria for lying, cheating and deceiving, including habits such as conning people or behaving manipulatively, and telling lies in order to obtain sickness benefits. They also assessed how much grey and white matter people had in the prefrontal cortex areas of their brains, using structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Liars were found to have between 22 and 26% more white matter than either those with no history of lying or those in the anti-social group.


The findings could not be explained by differences in age, ethnicity, IQ, head injury or substance misuse. This is the first study to show a brain difference in people who lie, cheat and manipulate others, the researchers said. They said the study could help research into areas such as people who feign illness. The findings are in line with previous studies which showed children with autism are less capable of lying than other children. Brain neurodevelopmental studies of autism show people with the condition have more grey matter than white matter – the opposite pattern to the liars in this study.

The researchers say the link between white matter and a deceitful personality could be that white matter provides a person with the cognitive capacity to lie. Writing in the British Journal of Psychiatry, the research team led by Dr Yaling Yang, say: “To our knowledge, this is the first study to show a brain abnormality in people who lie, cheat and manipulate others. “The results further implicate the prefrontal cortex as an important – but not sole – component in the neural circuitry underlying lying, and provide an initial neurological correlate of a deceitful personality.”

They add: “Further studies are required to examine changes in brain anatomy during the critical neurodevelopmental period in childhood, alongside changes in lying ability, to test further our preliminary hypothesis on the link between prefrontal white matter and lying.” Dr Cosmo Hallstrom, a consultant psychiatrist in London, said: “The issue is always how much of our behaviour is under voluntary control and how much is innate.

“The finding of brain abnormalities lends weight to the idea that a strong component of such difficulties may well be beyond voluntary control at least in part.”

Wouldn’t it be grand if we all had a small portable MRI machine we could carry in our pockets to scan a person’s prefrontal brain cortex when we suspected they might be lying? Finding an overabundance of white matter would make the decision of walking away from the liar so much easier!

“Research done by Gordon Deckert, an Oklahoma psychiatrist, reveals that pathological liars are about equally divided between males and females (Ekman, 1986). They are usually of average intelligence and have far higher than average verbal skills. They often work with believable facts, seasoning and embellishing them here and there. One in four has simulated illnesses, and one in five has been arrested for theft, swindling, forgery, etc.

Research on pathological liars has been limited because habitual liars rarely seek professional help.  The small amount of research available indicates many liars have been traumatized as children. Some were terrified by abandonment, shame or abuse. They may have begun lying as a means of protecting themselves against assault and blame.

Pathological liars simply grew up with a miserable self-image. Down deep, they really don’t believe they are worth anything. According to Deckert they are constantly trying to buttress their self-image by telling grandiose stories, while in actuality their behavior has caused them to be their own worst enemy.”

According to most research done on pathological liars, they are very charming and likable. However, they are deceitful and feel no emotion or regret when they are telling a lie. So the answer to the question; Can they hurt you? is Yes, they certainly can cause you a great deal of pain…if you believe them.

The next time you’re listening to someone tell a story and it sounds too good to be true, let that niggling thought be your guide and know that you are probably listening to a lie. If a timeline doesn’t exactly check out or line up, take that as a clear indication that you have just been lied to. If you have mutual friends that might know the person better than you do, ask them for facts. Friends are usually your best defense when it comes to liars because chances are…they’ve already heard it all before and they have learned how to deal with the liar.

Yes, there are Bullshit Artists among us, but they are not all bad people. Know yourself well enough to be able to look past the wonderfully fantastic lies you’re hearing and see the person underneath that so desperately needs to be loved and understood. Know that you will never hear the truth from them. Know that they will never respect your opinions and that you will never be better than the next lie they tell.

But above all else, know that to confront them with the truth is to open yourself up to being the person they lie about the most.

Let sleeping dogs…..lie.

This post is dedicated to my friend that took the time to help me understand this phenomenon and answered my questions with the truth. In spite of all the lies I had been told, he encouraged me to have patience and understanding for someone that couldn’t help who they are.

About Madeline Scribes

A writer with a sense of humor. If anyone can laugh at life, it's me.
This entry was posted in All kinds of Advice and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Bullshit Artist

  1. Pingback: could diet effect behavior? « the magic of language blog: partnering with reality – by JR Fibonacci

  2. I loved this memory! You share the best stuff! Love you!


  3. Pingback: Life is Truth « Write on the World

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