New research suggests boys are bigger liars than girls, and privileged children blag more than underprivileged ones

The American philosopher Harry G Frankfurt opens his bestselling treatise, On Bullshit, with a heartfelt lament on the sheer quantity around. “There is so much bullshit,” the Princeton scholar wrote in 2005, before conceding that we are all to blame.

In new research, scientists claim to have identified the most common practitioners of the ignoble art. Their study of 40,000 teenagers reveals that boys; those from privileged backgrounds; and North Americans in particular, top the charts as the worst offenders.

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