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Lance Armstrong Confesses; Why People Cheat

Aired January 17, 2013 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Tonight, another American icon confesses. But this hour, we're asking the question, why do we cheat? The science, the psychology, the emotiions behind it -- no topic is off limits. And the cold, hard truth may be tough to hear.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Let's go.

When it comes to sex, some doctors say cheating is all in the genes.

Plus, from Harvard to Scrabble. Is rule-breaking in academics running rampant in America?

And find out who makes the best liars and how to spot them.


BALDWIN: Hi, everyone. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

In just a couple of hours, the world will hear Lance Armstrong confess to doping after years and year of denying it. Sadly, the interview with Oprah Winfrey will be just another in the long line of public episodes of someone's fall from grace.


BALDWIN (voice-over): From Rosie Ruiz's shortcut to the finish line in the Boston Marathon to Lance Armstrong's substance-enhanced climbs through the Pyrenees, the record books and the tabloids are littered with cheaters.

MARION JONES, TRACK STAR: And so it is with a great amount of shame...

BALDWIN: Track star Marion Jones lost medals for doping and lying.

JONES: I have betrayed your trust.

BALDWIN: That's Milli Vanilli dancing, but it turned out they were not actually singing, their Grammy revoked. James Frey was an Oprah Winfrey Book Club idol until his memoir collapsed into a million pieces of fiction, turning Oprah Winfrey from fan to interrogator.

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Do you see the mistakes as lies? BALDWIN: And then there are the cheaters who clog the evening news, the golf hero with a beautiful blond wife and a bevy of girlfriends on the side.

TIGER WOODS, GOLFER: I want to say to each of you simply and directly, I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior.

BALDWIN: The actor with the hot actress girlfriend arrested for lewd conduct with a prostitute named Divine.

HUGH GRANT, ACTOR: I did a bad thing. There you have it.

BALDWIN: The preachers who sinned, Jim Bakker, Ted Haggard and Jimmy Swaggart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I sinned against you, my lord.

BALDWIN: And a bunch of politicians with something to hide. The governor who lied to his state about where he was while he was cheating on his wife with a mistress in Argentina.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hurt my wife.

BALDWIN: The Governator who had a secret child with his housekeeper and then there's Gary Hart, Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer, and the most infamous line of all.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not have sexual relations with that woman.


BALDWIN: Everyone here mouthing those words, we know those words well. Why do we cheat? You will hear from a doctor, you will hear from a psychology, even a human lie detector.

But let's start with what you just saw. Many of those cases involved sex.

I want to bring in Gary Neuman, who wrote the book. It's called "The Truth About Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do to Prevent It."

Gary, let me begin with you here. In reading all the stats and the numbers and statistics, the one that jumped out at me, 60 percent of men are unfaithful. Why so many men?

GARY NEUMAN, AUTHOR: Well, first of all, a lot of men and a lot of women, 39 percent, about 40 percent of women also are unfaithful. The reason that people cheat believe it or not is not sex. Only 7 percent of cheaters in my study said that they were sexually dissatisfied at home and therefore looking for it outside.

Most of them were saying it was about an emotional detachment...

(CROSSTALK) BALDWIN: Come on. It's not sex?

NEUMAN: It is not.

As a matter of fact men who cheated said 88 percent of the mistresses were not better looking or in better shape than their own wives. The fact is that the concept of the-night stand represents only about 6 to 8 percent of the male cheaters. That happens. Most of it is really about this emotional connectedness. And it's a mistake and it's highly inappropriate, but people are driven to feel connected to somebody and to have that freshness and that fun and that elicitness obviously drives it up.

When they lose it at home and they are disconnected and they are not nurturing the relationship, it's only too ample opportunity out there to find people to connect and hook up with and they make a mistake of thinking that's real. You can cheat emotionally on your spouse.


BALDWIN: I have so many questions for you, but I want to bring in these two other guests who I'm sitting next to. We have Dr. Paula Bloom, a clinical psychologist here, and also Dr. Sanjay Dhall, assistant professor of neurosurgery at Emory University, because we have to talk about the brain.

But, Paula Bloom, let me just ask you because we are all guilty to a degree of cheating, whether we are cheating on ourselves, whether we are cheating someone else. Bottom line, why do we do it?

PAULA BLOOM, PSYCHOLOGIST: We're all guilty of doing it to some degree. We all do a little bit of cheating, but we have to meet some sort of threshold. If we get beyond feeling like a bad person, we won't do it. We kind of get to this little, little area.

Why do we do it? We're talking about Lance Armstrong. Money, fame, winning. The question isn't so much why we do it. We have a lot to gain. The question is how could you do it. Come on. How could you do that to us?

BALDWIN: If there is not only fame, if you are just a regular person, no fame involved, there's no money involved and perhaps you like the secret, you like the lie, you become addicted to the lie.

BLOOM: There is a little bit of dopamine, kind of a pleasure thing that maybe we can talk when we do, kind of a little bit of adrenaline, but the point is we want to believe things.

And a lot of times, the world is not as it is. It how we see it. We want to believe something is true. When you think something, it feels true.

BALDWIN: There is this cheating gene. I know Gary can talk about that.

But let me ask you because I know there is this brain scan, right, Sanjay, in which you can look at the brain. It's the frontal lobe and you can tell a difference, what, between if someone is lying vs. not.


There is fascinating research going on right now and it's still in the research phases, but it's using a technology called magnetic resonance imaging, MRI, which is used very frequently. But it's a very specific kind of MRI called functional MRI that actually looks at the brain in real time and looks at metabolism of glucose within the brain.

And it tells us what parts of the brain are being used at any given second. So using that research, they have done experiments where they had subjects lie while in the scanner and they see parts of the brain that light up that do not light up when they are telling the truth.

The basic concept behind this is that lying takes work. It requires some effort and some calculation. It's much harder to lie than to tell the truth.

BALDWIN: But then for some people it just seems to be so easy and looking at the brain, I'm wondering can people be -- are they born with a certain aspect of the brain that perhaps would make them predisposed to lying or is it something they learn along the way?

DHALL: There are some people who have certain mental illnesses that are known to be more adept at lying.

It does seem to somehow correlate with intelligence, because, for example, sometimes in some of the patients I take care of who have a severe brain injury, they just don't lie at all. In fact, they are so blunt they get themselves in trouble because they are not capable of the complex calculations required to tell lies.

BALDWIN: Gary Neuman, are you hearing this? Do you think if you are highly intelligent -- you are smiling -- the higher your intelligence level, what, the easier it is to lie, the more instances of lying? Is that what you have found?

NEUMAN: No, perhaps if you are very smart, you can feel that you can get away with it and you are good at it.

But the idea of presenting, that we have a gene, listen, we have predispositions on all kinds of things. Perhaps for some people it's a little more of a struggle. But we have to be very careful to never justify or excuse.

Obviously, people are very capable. What you have to remember about the Lance Armstrongs and the Arnolds and the Clintons and everybody is there is another phenomenon going on when you are talking about being that famous and that powerful. And that is that they walk around all day with people who are worshipping them.

Everything they say, everybody says it's brilliant. Everything they -- the little joke they make, it's so laughable. All of a sudden, these people really do start to believe that own story in their head.


BALDWIN: Is it narcissism? That's the word that keeps popping into my head.

NEUMAN: Yes, it is. And it's supported by the fact that when you walk around for enough time and enough years with everybody thinking you're godlike, a person does begin to believe that everybody will love them no matter what. They can do no wrong because their handlers and the people that are immediately around them are always saying how excellent and unbelievable they are.

And unfortunately human condition can only take so much of that before they -- many can turn into that.

BALDWIN: They are enablers. They are enablers.

We are talking a lot about sex and relationships. But a lot of cheating happens online. Take the story. Here it is. It is in the news today about this Notre Dame football player, this linebacker, Manti Te'o.

The athletic director at Notre Dame came out and said Te'o was -- this word, what is called 'catfished.' This word basically describes someone being duped by a person posing in this case as a girlfriend. This supposedly died from leukemia as Te'o and Notre Dame were battling and marching on to that BCS championship game.

They lost the game, but along the way, Te'o earned sympathy from people across the country and People on campus as they saw him grieve for his girlfriend and his grandmother, who, by the way, died the very same week. Here he was talking about his girlfriend.


MANTI TE'O, NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL PLAYER: Before she passed, I don't know, it's kind of creepy, but she wrote letters for me before every game.

This past -- the Stanford game was the last game that she wrote a letter for. And in every letter, she said, remember, be humble, be gracious and always remember that I love you.


BALDWIN: The school is standing behind Te'o saying he was a victim of a sick hoax, is what they're saying, not part of the deception that had "cruelty at its core."


JACK SWARBRICK, ATHLETIC DIRECTOR, NOTRE DAME: The thing I am most sad of, sad about is -- sorry -- that the single most trusting human being I have ever met will never be able to trust in the same way again in his life.


BALDWIN: Clearly, someone cheated in this case. Hoaxes and cheating they are even more commonplace now when you look at what's happening online and on blogs.

There is this whole MTV reality. it's show called "Catfish" dedicated to people faking online relationships.

Paula Bloom, let me go to you because as we were talking about this cheating, especially we started thinking especially with this case, a lot of people now have this -- it's like a dual persona. Right? You have this virtual person. Your are either your best self or just a total fabrication of yourself and then your real life.


BLOOM: Right and there's a continuum.

There's a certain kind of disinhibition that happens online, a certain anonymity. Things that you would not disclose to someone person, you may discloser in that way so you have this false sense of intimacy and connection even if you have never met.

There is a continuum. How many of us, I'm not guilty of this, of, I don't know, having photographs from the right angle and that maybe make you look...


BLOOM: ... a few pounds thinner, a few years younger.

It's all kind of on a continuum about kind of presenting this false sense to the world. We have all done this and this is something people have done for a long time, is kind of creating the sense that we put out to the world and how there are so many avenues for it.

BALDWIN: Gary, there still very much so many questions as far as how, if Manti Te'o ever actually physically met this person and if he didn't as he said and this was just a relationship over the phone or maybe over the Web, doesn't common sense say -- he said this was the love of his life. How do you explain that?

NEUMAN: It is remarkable and it explains what we said in the beginning.

People want to connect to others emotionally. I wrote a book called "Emotional Infidelity," explaining the phenomenon that you can be cheating on your spouse without having sex. We all get wrapped up in the sex, but that is really just often a further expression of people's dire need to be emotionally connected and feel somebody gets them, somebody understands them.


NEUMAN: And unfortunately somebody who does give you that feeling can become very manipulative and people can be weakened just by wanting someone to really understand them at their core.

BALDWIN: OK, Gary Neuman, Paula Bloom, Sanjay Dhall, thank you.

Coming up next, this.


JOHN EUSTICE, CYCLIST: Lance is a killer. That's why you watch him. Any of these guys, any of these athletes who compete at this very high level, they're killers, they're ruthless. They're murderers. That's what they do. They are unbelievable competitors.


BALDWIN: Those are the words from my next guest. How does that killer instinct play into the urge to cheat? We are talking with him right after the break.


BALDWIN: Do you think you know how to spot a liar? We have heard the telltale signs, sweat on the brow, shifting eyes and touching the face or mouth and excessive swallowing. But for more than a decade, Lance Armstrong has been looking down the barrel of a camera into the eyes of prosecutors, his critics and his own teammates, fans, and lying. Watch this with me.


LANCE ARMSTRONG, FORMER PROFESSIONAL CYCLIST: Everybody wants to know what I'm on. What am I on? I'm on my bike.

Regardless of whether or not people accuse Lance Armstrong of doing something, regardless of whether or not they are questioning a relationship with a doctor, we have to look at the facts. We have to.

The questions have continued and the suspicion has continued, but the only other thing that has really continued and I think is the most alarming thing is the performance. I have not gone away.

The cynics, the skeptics, I'm sorry for you. I'm sorry you can't dream big and I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles.

I have said it for longer than seven years. I have never doped.

ARMSTRONG: How could that have happened?

QUESTION: That was my point. It's not just simply that you don't recall?

ARMSTRONG: How many times do I have to say it?

QUESTION: I'm just trying to make sure your testimony is clear.

ARMSTRONG: It can't be any clearer than I have never taken drugs.


BALDWIN: Cheating in sports is certainly nothing new.

Marion Jones sent to federal prison for lying about doping. Rosie Ruiz, remember her, the first woman to finish the Boston Marathon? But it turns out she jumped in the race a couple hundred feet before the finish line. And Tonya Harding involved a whack to the knee of fellow figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, just to name a few.

But none has done it quite like Lance Armstrong on an international stage and for as long as he did.

Want to bring in John Eustice, a two-time U.S. professional cycling champion, a coach, an analyst who actually called Lance Armstrong's first Tour de France.

John, welcome to you. We visited this a moment ago. I just want top lay something you said on CNN just this week. Watch.


EUSTICE: Lance is a killer. That's why you watch him. Any of these guys, any of these athletes who compete at this very high level, they're killers, they're ruthless. They're murderers. That's what they do.


BALDWIN: On one level you have a killer, you have someone who is a ruthless competitor. What is it that takes that person to the next level to cheat, to roll over anyone in their path to get there?

EUSTICE: It's complex, because for Lance and for professional athletes and for baseball players who take amphetamines or college football players or professional football players who take massive painkillers, it isn't cheating.

This is the funny thing about it. This is the mentality. They think it's part of the game. Lance Armstrong you have to realize he walked into a system with the U.S. Postal Service team. It had already been established before he came on to the team.

What happens when you grow up in a sport, you grow up in a bubble. After a while, things become that would seem strange outside of that bubble become normal. It becomes not doping, not cheating, but "preparation," medical preparation. That's how they view it within themselves.

BALDWIN: Let me jump in because in this bubble -- you bring up baseball. Right? You have the likes of Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds and even Pete Rose who gambled. That was his cheat. Here's what he said CNN recently.


PETE ROSE, FORMER PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYER: Lance is a little bit like me, and I will tell you why, for anybody watching us talk, I would give them some advice. If you do something wrong, come clean quick. As quick as you possibly can. I waited too long. Lance waited too long. Because it's just going to build up and get worse and worse and worse.

So, you know, admit your problem, and attack your problem. I'm at peace with myself now. It took me some years to do what Bart Giamatti told me to do, because what he wanted me to do when he said reconfigure my life is just take responsibility for what I did. And I have done that now. And my mind is clean. My body is clean. My fans understand that. My teammates understand it. And we'll go from there. I think that's what Lance should do.


BALDWIN: John, at what point do the elite athletes, what point does something happen and they think the rules don't apply to me?

EUSTICE: Well, I think it happens when they get -- I don't know what the exact moment is.

If someone is on the path to win the Tour de France and become world champion, to become a Super Bowl championship, there is such a massive ego boost. There is a rage of aggression and testosterone that the sense of risk goes right out the window, that they think the rules don't apply to them.

I don't know if this is a sense that they develop or something they were born which lands them eventually in those roles. Athletes tend to share certain psychological characteristics along with police and criminals and actors and public -- and politicians. They all share the sense of rules don't apply to me. The risks are surmountable always because I'm going to make it because I'm great.

I think it's actually part of their innate personality traits.

BALDWIN: Yes. It's interesting you talk about were they born with it, was it something that happens later in life?

Sanjay, I want to turn to you because is there not -- we mentioned this a moment ago when you talk about the chemicals, just literally the moment you lie, the moment you cheat, there is a bit of a high. Dopamine is released. How does it work?

DHALL: A lot of this has yet to truly be understood scientifically, but there is a lot of hypotheses around this concept.

We know about the endorphin release, this release of a natural narcotic that gives us a high or rush that these athletes are all very accustomed to. These are high-level athletes who push their bodies to the limit and they get this rush from going to these extremes.

It makes sense that they would also get a rush, an endorphin release from pushing the rules, pushing the boundaries, maybe even breaking the rules. It's possible that that's another motivator for them is to see if they can get away with it.

BALDWIN: Oh, wow.

Sanjay, stand by. John Eustice, stand by. Thank you so much.

Coming up next, from the ivory towers of academia, all the way to Scrabble champions, my next guest says all cheaters redefine what it means to be ethical, creating their own moral code. We will talk to her next.


BALDWIN: Look, no doubt, fakers can be fascinating. Hollywood certainly loves a compelling con artist. These next clips all depict real-world con artists true stories of incredible shams.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Gentlemen, what seems to be the problem?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (INAUDIBLE) accident, fractured tibia about five inches below the toe.




UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Concur with what, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Well, with what Dr. Ashlyn (ph) just said. Do you concur?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: It is a bicycle accident. The boy told us.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I met this kid named Ian Restil, biggest computer geek of all time.

He hacked his way into the database of a company called Jukt Micronics, and posted naked pictures of women, and the salary of every Jukt employee on Jukt's Web site with a note saying, "The big, bad, bionic boy has been here, baby."


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Is this some kind of math club?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Have you studied blackjack?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Are you talking about counting cards?





BALDWIN: In all those clips you saw, there is the theme, breaking the rules in academics.

Now here is Lance Armstrong, who is preparing to scrub out years of denials about doping. We're looking into why people cheat here, why fakers try to fool academic institutions.

Ethics expert Professor Lisa Shu joins me now from Chicago.

Lisa, welcome to you.

I'm thinking as we see all these people I'm wondering how can they even look themselves in the mirror. Are their morals just chucked out the window?

LISA SHU, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY: We have this notion that we have our fixed moral compass and we have our fixed ethical beliefs and they never change and they are immutable.

But that's in fact not the case. It turns out that after we cheat and after we are put into a permissive environment that allows us to bend the rules, we actually change our beliefs about what it means to be ethical.

BALDWIN: How do you mean? How do you have an environment like that? What creates that environment?


SHU: Right. Right.

You don't notice sometimes when you place yourself in a permissive environment. Let's take the case of infidelity. Let's say that you believe that you would never cheat on your spouse. So, it's OK to go to the all girls singles bar because that would never be something that you would do.

But once you arrive in the situation, there is all these types of temptations and maybe you have a drink or two and then let's say you do something outside of the bounds of what you ever anticipated that you would ever lead yourself to do.

After the fact, your beliefs actually change about what it means -- what infidelity means. You actually make your -- you revise your moral beliefs so you are more lenient towards infidelity.


BALDWIN: You talk environment. And I just want to turn to clinical psychologist to my right here, Dr. Paula Bloom, because we were talking in the commercial break it's also a group mentality thing, right?

BLOOM: Totally.

BALDWIN: Especially when I think academics, right, and you are sitting in a class and it's a group cheat, if someone else is doing it, it's OK.

BLOOM: Right. Right. Right.

When it comes to academics, there's a few interesting things. One is, yes, everybody else is doing it. I'm not getting an unfair advantage. I'm just leveling the playing field.


BALDWIN: You justify that to yourself.

BLOOM: I'm just justifying.

And basically a lot of times what she was saying is you take the story and we want to feel consistent. We want to have our beliefs and values align with our actions. When our actions don't align with our values, let's just change our values to align with our actions. You know what I mean? Because we want to feel consistent.

The other thing that is very interesting with the cheating thing is that with students, if they feel like this work is not very relevant to their life, like this wasn't -- you know how you felt that way in high school, like what does this really mean? How is this really going to help me in life? It's a lot easier to cheat and say, oh, this is a victimless crime. How does this really affect anybody?

BALDWIN: Here's what I want to know, Lisa Shu, because, look, we have all known people who seem to like a lie or not.

SHU: That's right.

BALDWIN: I have often wondered if they actually believe the lies they are telling. Like, at some point, don't they kind of convince themselves what I'm saying is the truth, I'm not lying?

SHU: Absolutely. Absolutely. That could be a possibility.

In fact, when we lie to others, we are lying to ourselves. Because we have this ability to bend our beliefs to align with our behaviors, we are very good at being internally consistent. And what that means is that we end up telling ourselves these lies and that sets us up for this potential downward spiral of ever worse behaviors and ever more lenient moral codes and moral beliefs.

BALDWIN: It's a snowball. It's a snowball effect.

Lisa Shu, professor there joining me in Chicago, Lisa, thank you. We could go on, but we have more for you.

Coming up next, secret bank accounts. We are talking money, big spending on the sly. Not talking Wall Street. A lot of financial cheating happens much closer to home -- spouses who cheat when it comes to money and the marriage after the break.