Paul Ryan has said that he ran a marathon in under three hours. A lie. That he was on the ski team in high school. Another lie. That he has climbed to the top of 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado forty times. Highly unlikely, according to climbers. Finally, he claims his body fat to be 6%. That’s most likely an outrageous — and egotistical — falsehood.
It’s well known that the Romney campaign spreads falsehoods like the flu. However, it does seem like most of the lies told at least have a purpose: a dishonorable campaign tactic to try and beat President Barack Obama come November. Paul Ryan, though, has shown that not only is he amazingly ignorant of things like women’s rights, but he is also a pathological liar. “Pathological liars can’t always tell truth from falsehood and contradict themselves in an interview,” says Adrian Raine, a psychology professor at USC. Paul Ryan has contradicted himself on more than one occasion, as has his running mate Mitt Romney.
Pathological liars actually have their brains wired differently than the rest of the population, as shown by a study by Adrian Raine and Yaling Young of USC. The study was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. Excerpt of an article by USC regarding the study below:
Specifically, liars had a 25.7 percent increase in prefrontal white matter compared to the antisocial controls and a 22 percent increase compared to the normal controls. Liars had a 14.2 percent decrease in prefrontal gray matter compared to normal controls.
More white matter – the wiring in the brain – may provide liars with the tools necessary to master the complex art of deceit, Raine said.
“Lying takes a lot of effort,” he said.
“It’s almost mind reading. You have to be able to understand the mindset of the other person. You also have to suppress your emotions or regulate them because you don’t want to appear nervous. There’s quite a lot to do there. You’ve got to suppress the truth.
“Our argument is that the more networking there is in the prefrontal cortex, the more the person has an upper hand in lying. Their verbal skills are higher. They’ve almost got a natural advantage.”
But in normal people, it’s the gray matter – or the brain cells connected by the white matter – that helps keep the impulse to lie in check.
Now for Ryan’s lies regarding his physicality.
He claimed that he ran a marathon in “under three, high twos. I had a two hour and fifty-something,” during a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt. However, Runner’s World found this to be false; his exact time was four hours, one minute, and twenty-five seconds. Not only is that over an hour longer than he originally said, but it also makes him slower than Al Gore, George W. Bush, John Edwards, and even Sarah Palin, all former members of a presidential ticket.
He also claimed he was on his high school’s ski team in an interview with the New Yorker. That’s a problem–his high school doesn’t have a ski team. It has a ski club, but that doesn’t involve athletic competition.
Another claim of his is his dubious assertion to nearly forty climbs up a number of 14,000 foot peaks, which many climbers say is unlikely for a variety of reasons.
His biggest and most unlikely story, however, is the one regarding his body fat percentage. Slate has more:
Here’s who else maintains 6 to 8 percent body fat: Olympic 100-meter sprinters, that’s who. Also, world-class boxers, wrestlers, and marathoners, according to this study of elite American athletes. Top collegiate swimmers look pretty fit, right? Well, they average out at a plump 9.5 percent, at least according to another study. Positively porky, compared to Ryan. (For some perspective, the average man has body fat of 17 to 24 percent, and most women a bit more.)
Ryan’s claim, in other words, puts him squarely in the company of elite athletes. (And also, freakily, with these guys.) But while Ryan is definitely skinny—he told Allen that he’s 6-foot-2 and weighs 163 pounds, and his suits flutter like a Christo project gone wrong—that might be a stretch. At anything less than 10 percent body fat, says Martin Rooney, a well-known trainer who works with NFL and MMA athletes, “a man with his shirt off is lean and shredded. Veins everywhere and really cut up. This is the model and bodybuilder look. So if he is saying he is 6 percent, he is shredded with a six-pack and should have no reason not to do photo shoots everywhere.”
But even if Ryan did get his body fat measured regularly, as he implied to Politico, it seems oddly vain to do so. “If he was measured at all, my first question would be, why?” asks Men’s Health workout columnist Lou Schuler. “Why would a lean and obviously objectively fit congressman need to know his body-fat percentage? I don’t know mine, and I write about this stuff for a living.”
In fact, when your body fat percentage is that low for a longer amount of time than most athletes take for competition, you give yourself serious health risks. Slate also reports on the nutritionist Ancel Keys’ studies in the 1940s regarding body fat percentage:
At very low body-fat levels, strange things start happening. Starved for energy, the body starts consuming muscle instead of fat, in what’s known as a catabolic state. Low fat levels also affect immune function. In the 1940s, the legendary nutritionist Ancel Keys (father of the military’s K-rations) subjected a group of 36 men to a severely restricted diet, amounting to about half what they were used to eating. The results of the Minnesota Starvation Experiment were shocking, both scientifically and visually. The subjects’ ribs protruded, and their stomachs caved in; they looked like prisoners.
Keys took precise body-fat measurements of his subjects, and found that they bottomed out around 5 percent—1 percent below Ryan’s claim. Whether from lack of body fat, or plain lack of food, they basically went crazy. One study participant lost three fingers to an axe—but was not sure whether it had been an accident or intentional.