Satan is Silent Notes Taking

We take for granted that angels are silent notes taking, but did you know that Satan is too?

As a youth, I recall having vague notions about the actions that were necessary to avoid temptation, but if you would have asked me, say, last week, I don’t think I would have had the temerity to assert that “Avoid vocalizing your thoughts!” is one of them. I mean, that’s just magical thinking that I can hardly pin on the church, right?

Well, I obviously wasn’t paying attention very well during the April 2017 General Conference to church publications, because it took a prominent collaborative online effort of like-minded female members of the church to turn a portion of Elder Lawrence’s talk article “The War Goes On” into a meme to realize that, no, I wasn’t just making things up and, in fact, this is no mere folk doctrine. In his talk, Elder Lawrence declares that

It is important to know that there are limits to the power of evil. The Godhead sets those limits, and Satan is not allowed to cross them. For example, the scriptures assure us that “power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children” (D&C 29:47).

Another significant limitation is that Satan does not know our thoughts unless we tell him. The Lord explained, “There is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart” (D&C 6:16).

Perhaps this is why the Lord has given us commandments such as “Do not murmur” (D&C 9:6) and “Thou shalt not speak evil of thy neighbor” (D&C 42:27). If you can learn to bridle your tongue (see James 1:26), you won’t end up giving too much information to the devil. When he hears murmuring, complaining, and criticizing, he takes careful notes. Your negative words expose your weaknesses to the enemy.

I guess it makes sense—if we believe in prayer as more than an exercise in listening to ourselves talk (or think, as the case may be), and we certainly do, then there must be something bouncing around out there, and why wouldn’t the devil have signals intelligence of his own to try and intercept these various and sundry communications for his own ends?

I suspect that the belief in the devil having (limited) access to our communications is as storied and widespread as the belief in good and evil  itself; it’s certainly not something the Mormons made up. The angels keeping score on the one hand and the devil trying to trip us up on the other no doubt gives the pious believer all the motivation she needs to stay on the strait and narrow and avoid the sins so anathema to power and authority: murmuring, complaining, and criticizing.


Everybody’s doing it: “Quiet!!! Don’t blab! The enemy is listening!!” Source

What kind of experiences have you had with this belief? Did you grow up with it? Hear it for the first time in April? Does it make you roll your eyes or bear fervent testimony? Do tell!


  1. Happy Hubby says:

    I can’t say that I recall a specific talk or anything, but I was taught that Satan was very powerful. As I have thought about it more the last few years, it feels like I was taught that God was not as powerful as Satan and it was up to me to be 100% righteous and make up the difference or I was doomed to be a slave to Satan. I remember that over and over I was told that if I opened an Anti-Mormon book, that God would abandon me and Satan would have his hooks in me. That is just crazy.

  2. Steve G. says:

    I remember hearing it as a teenager in the late 80’s early 90’s in church talks. Don’t have a strong feeling either way about the “doctrine”. Missed it completely during Elder Lawrence’s talk.

  3. Brian Irwin says:

    I hadn’t noticed Elder Lawrence’s comments, but it is not the first time warnings about vocal prayer have been stated over the pulpit. Francis M. Gibbons also spoke about the dangers of vocal prayer in the October 1991 General Conference:

  4. Growing up in the 80s and early 90s, I was taught the idea that satan can hear our words but not our thoughts. But it wasn’t very often and never in formal teachings — just anecdotal folk doctrine. My mom would tell me that if she wanted to go to the temple on a given day, she tried not to say it out loud, because then all sorts of things would pop up to keep her from going, which she attributed to satan. A few wars members told similar stories in testimonies, talks, or lessons, to the effect that if they vocalized their plans, satan would interfere, or if they vocalized their fears or weaknesses, satan would prey on those specific things.

    In hindsight, this seems to me like pure superstition, like fear of a jinx.

  5. Brian Irwin says:

    To be fair, after re-reading Elder Lawrence’s talk, it does not appear that he specifically mentions prayer. Francis Gibbons still holds the distinction of being the only person I have heard express that concern in General Conference.

  6. John Mansfield says:

    A similar teaching that comes to mind was from Francis Gibbons, “The Dual Aspects of Prayer,” October 1991.

    It is clear, then, that Satan and his followers, who have been cast out of God’s presence and are dead to His Spirit, are excluded from those who, by the spirit of prophecy and revelation, may know the thoughts and the intents of our hearts. So, in his wisdom and mercy, God has provided a channel of communication between him and his children on earth that Satan, our common enemy, cannot invade. This is the channel of secret prayer. The significance of this to the Latter-day Saint is profound, for by this means we are able to communicate with our Heavenly Father in secrecy, confident that the adversary cannot intrude.

    For some reason hearing that from Elder Gibbons feels much more recent than 26 years ago, but that could be said for many of my recollections, and it was Elder Gibbons I remember teaching it. Maybe the memory feels recent because of hearing Elder Lawrence speak last month and recreating in my mind at that time the memory of Elder Gibbons speaking a quarter century ago.

  7. Mark B. says:

    Folk doctrine. D&C 6:16 should be read in the context of the entire interaction between Joseph and Oliver.

    The bigger question: is that a standard way to write a “w”–in “schweigen” and “schwätzen”?

  8. is that a standard way to write a “w”–in “schweigen” and “schwätzen”?

    Not that it counts for much, but I haven’t seen it elsewhere.

  9. If God isn’t able to keep the devil out of a vocal prayer, then we’ve got bigger problems on our hands then how we pray. We should basically never talk about someone’s problems.

    For the record, this is Elder Lawrence’s talk from the April 2017 Ensign; it’s not from General Conference.

  10. For the record, this is Elder Lawrence’s talk from the April 2017 Ensign; it’s not from General Conference

    Oops. Thanks for the correction.

  11. I grew up with Satan as figurative dualist/Manichean answer to theodicy and nothing more. So Satan taking notes is just a non-starter. It feels like there is a recent surge (or is it resurgence) in talk of Satan, including recent general conference and this OP. I wonder if it’s true (the perceived change) and I wonder why?

    On the other hand, I grew up with a child’s concept of hiding from god, as though god would only know what I voiced in prayer or confessed to my bishop. Maybe it’s not so childish; isn’t that what Adam thought when he hid himself?

    Hiding from god plays out in some “interesting” theology and practice and is probably a to-be-avoided thought. As an adult I know that kind of magical thinking is nonsense. Adam was mistaken and if G_d knows anything G_d knows everything. But I still feel it. There’s still a twinge when voicing a problem or a disagreement.

  12. I think this is a case of parsing the scriptures too closely. I did hear it occasionally but I’m with Christian Kimball, I pretty much grew up with Satan being the figurative foil to God’s plans. And I also think that there is a resurgence of talking about him in a very literal sense in the church.
    But it’s interesting to consider the first vision story as it relates to this. Joseph had determined to pray, silently to himself I would assume. He kneels and begins a vocal prayer for the first time in his life, and only then do forces of darkness almost overcome him.

  13. I grew up in the 90’s and did hear that taught to me. I was more fearful of the devil overtaking Joseph Smith almost to the point of death and the possibility that could happen to me. I also remember reading a number of times the protocol for differentiating an angel sent from God and a demon spirit. I was very convinced that knowledge would come in handy some day.

  14. Brother Sky says:

    I heard it and gave it the old eye roll. I didn’t grow up in the church, but since I’ve been a member, I’m truly shocked at how literally many of my ward’s members take Satan and his influence so literally (Satan is more powerful on the water? Really?), yet still promulgate the (supposedly?) comforting narrative that God is more powerful than Satan. Such a belief, though, always raises questions for me. If God is more powerful than Satan, then the game is already rigged in our favor, yes? And in that sense, we’re not really risking our salvation/happiness in a true 50/50 game of chance and choice down here on Earth. And if that is the case, is God a truly just and fair god if he’s rigging the game, even if it’s in our favor? Just random questions that pop up for me. Too much Paradise Lost as an undergrad, I suppose. And also, I don’t know many Christians who regularly vocalize their thoughts to Satan, so that bit of it I just found puzzling, though reading this post makes me think it really was more about murmuring stuff out loud and Satan can pick up on it even if we’re not really addressing him. Honestly, I think Mormons don’t know any better than anyone else what’s really happening out there and we’re just making stuff up, sort of like most other folks. My .02.

  15. Angela C says:

    I definitely was taught this, and in the MTC spent time redacting portions of my journal lest Satan sneak into my room and read it while I was off in language lessons. At this point I tent to think it’s pretty crazy, and hearing MWS espouse it only confirms that.

    BUT, let’s give the idea a naturalist bent, and there’s some merit here. The ideas we voice are more powerful than ones we merely think, as those behind Fast & Testimony meeting are very well aware. As we are told, a testimony is found in the bearing thereof. Once we start saying a thing, it’s more likely to become true or to be believed, whether by us or others. That’s how our minds work, Satan or no.

    The real issue I see here, though, is that people do need to be able to voice things that are “negative” sometimes without fear that those will be turned against them by Satan. We shouldn’t wallow in unnecessary griping, obviously, but this line of thinking would also suggest that nobody should ever go to a therapist or acknowledge an eating disorder, depression or marital problems. You have to get things out in the open to deal with them.

    There is something prescient about the idea that in the 1980s, we were being taught that Satan is essentially the same as Facebook and Google have become. Without you even being aware that you wanted or had thought of a thing, Facebook is right there suggesting it in your sidebar. Peacock leggings? Linen dresses from Asia? Hot singles want to date me now? Attack that tummy fat? Watch funny cat videos? Yes, please!

  16. I was taught this principle many years ago at BYU in a mission prep class taught by Randy Bott. I was also taught in that class that being sealed in the temple meant that I would go to the Celestial Kingdom no matter what, as long as I didn’t shed innocent blood. He also taught other things that I have since come to realize were not true doctrine. Yes, this is the same Randy Bott who was forced into retirement a few years back for after telling a reporter racist things and then calling them the official church position — things he also taught in that class I took.

    The point? Among those who like to parse the scriptures too closely, as KLC terms it above, this teaching has been around for some time.

  17. wreddyornot says:

    Sounds like a good reason to lie out loud. “I don’t get aroused when I see/hear/smell/taste/feel that” as I say “I do get aroused when I see/hear/smell/taste/feel that to myself.” If a bishop, spouse, friend or whoever has the spirit, wouldn’t s/he hear it the correct way? With all that said, I’ll just say this is a very bad post. It doesn’t make me think at all.

  18. Hedgehog says:

    I definitely grew up having been taught this idea, and in consequence have never been able to bring myself to speak my personal prayers out loud, as a child specifically for this reason, as an adult it’s now so ingrained I just can’t.

  19. I don’t recall ever hearing that we should censor our words lest Satan hear them — but there was much in Elder Lawrence’s talk that I had never heard before. I “learned” more about Satan in that article than I usually learn about God in other talks. As I skimmed it, I kept wondering “Where does that come from?” and “Why is he teaching that as doctrine?” and even “Why is he teaching that at all?” It sounded very much like the kinds of mimeographed stuff we used to find in the back of some closet in a missionary apartment — or maybe like the cringeworthy “testimonies” of ward members who dwell in loving, porn-like detail on their past sins and then conclude with a flip “… so I know that repentance is true.” Even if it were true — and I don’t believe it is, or that he could provide authoritative citations if called on to defend it — why would we need to know about all that satanic stuff?

    We complain about Correlation, but it definitely has its purposes. I wonder why and how this talk was passed for publication?

  20. I “learned” more about Satan in that article than I usually learn about God in other talks. As I skimmed it, I kept wondering “Where does that come from?”

    Exactly. Given the paucity of information on the subject in the canon, it seems odd to read such clear and unqualified statements about Satan’s powers—he can do this, but not that! As Kip says in Napoleon Dynamite: “Like anyone could even know that.”

  21. On the other hand, I grew up with a child’s concept of hiding from god, as though god would only know what I voiced in prayer or confessed to my bishop.

    I was the opposite, I think. I was convinced, for example, that my ancestors could observe me from heaven (and of course I didn’t want to disappoint them). Also, I can still remember having an unkind thought about my brother the evening I was baptised and thinking, “well, there’s my first sin after having been washed clean.”

  22. it's a series of tubes says:

    This thread and the comments have been great. I agree that, as a culture, we would be well served to jettison much of the folklore and magical thinking we have accumulated or imported.

    That being said: God is real. His power is real. And the opposite is also real. If you have come into personal contact with it, like I once did, it’s just as undeniable.

  23. Maybe the War in Heaven is an allegory? Maybe Satan is the absence of God, and not a real entity? Just like hot and cold. Cold is the absence of heat.

  24. I find this entire thing (especially the comments on the original meme) just bizarre. As in don’t-drink-the-cool-aid or Scientology’s E-meter bizarre. If this is the way Mormonism ever goes, I’m out.

  25. I always assumed that Satan could read my mind. How else would he know which temptations to throw my way? It never occurred to me that he could only know what I was thinking if I said it out loud (or put it in writing?)–that just seems ridiculous. I mean, maybe Satan reading my mind is also ridiculous. Maybe.

  26. So if I want to curse Satan out, do I have to do it vocally or non-vocally. I’d really hate the neighbors to hear me saying some of the things I’d like to tell that ***-hole.

  27. I agree that, as a culture, we would be well served to jettison much of the folklore and magical thinking we have accumulated or imported.

    The problem is not merely that so many members believe so firmly in it; it’s that for a large portion of them, the folklore has become larger and more important than the revealed truths from which it is an outgrowth.

  28. Logically we should jettison the practice of vocal opening and closing prayers.

  29. Angela C says:

    Greg J: Nah, all he’s getting from that is that we like moisture and repetition.

  30. . . . and it’s no surprise to satan that we all want to get home safely and have those that couldn’t be here this week come next week.

  31. At least now we understand why those refreshments never seem to nourish and strengthen us and do us the good that we need.

    By the way, peterllc, your illustrations for this post were perfect.

  32. Chadwick says:

    I’d wager every single one of us has a vice we have never said aloud. And yet it sure seems that I face temptations on non-said vice. So if that temptation is not from Satan, where is it coming from?

    My experience as a child was like Zach’s. I fully assumed that I would grow up needing to cast out demons and shake hangs with wanna-be poser angels. But then I grew up with an eccentric father that told me he has had these experiences (I’m still trying to determine if I believe him or not).

    So many of these comments are gold. This thread made my Wednesday infinitely better!

  33. I go a step further and always pray vocally for exactly the opposite of what I pray for secretly in my mind, so Satan’s all “excellent! excellllleeeenntt!” and doesn’t bother tempting me at all.

    He can’t read what I type on the internet, right? Just hear my voice? Cool.

  34. sgnm,

    I’m pretty sure that satan reads the posts and comments on BCC religiously. Him and the Strengthening the Members Committee. For different reasons (sort of).

  35. Sallyann says:

    I don’t remember being taught it, but I carried the worry for a long time when I was young. It was more a symptom of my anxiety than any thing else. But I figured if Satan has been on Earth since the beginning of human life, he’s pretty much able to read humanity — words spoken out loud or not matter little in his insights into our desires/fears/weaknesses etc. But I recognize this was my way to cope with the anxiety and keep it from paralyzing me.

  36. Completely unrelated to spiritual matters: I said on the phone to a colleague, “I don’t know what idiot thought this would be a good business line to pursue.” His reply: “There are some things you just shouldn’t say out loud!”

  37. Jack Hughes says:

    I was raised in the Church, but don’t remember being taught this until I heard it from an institute teacher (early 2000s); at that point in my life, I had good enough critical thinking skills that I was able to disregard it without feeling too guilty. I’ve seen this and other such nuggets of quasi-doctrinal folk wisdom crop up occasionally (e.g. Satan controlling the waters, Satan controlling our minds through heavy metal music, Satan being invited by use of tarot cards/ouija boards, etc.) but almost exclusively from members of my parents’ generation or older. I thought these folk beliefs were, like the members who promulgated them, gradually dying off, but the publication of Elder Lawrence’s article suggests that they persist in some circles.

    Figuratively speaking, I think we as Latter-day Saints give Satan a lot more dominion over our lives than he actually has.

  38. This is why I always say out loud that the temptation I don’t think I’d be able to resist is wealth and fame.

  39. FarSide says:

    “For example, the scriptures assure us that ‘power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children.’”

    If Joseph Smith had met a couple of the seven-year old boys in our Primary, he probably would have thought twice before he penned that sentence.

  40. Brother Sky says:

    “I think we as Latter-day Saints give Satan a lot more dominion over our lives than he actually has.” This, X 1000.

    Though the humorous comments and thoughts have been rather amusing, I have to confess, I’m actually at times quite troubled to hear people in my church default to Satan as if he’s to blame for every little thing. It might be interesting to delve into the psychology of this, but it’s too late and I’m too tired. I do think, though, that Mormons almost need to believe, as if it’s a kind of bizarre compulsion, that Satan must exert a great deal of influence over out choices, etc. Is that a kind of backwards way of trying to impel us towards God? That is, if we talk about how powerful Satan is, we can also then talk about how God is even more powerful?

  41. This is why I always pray in Spanish.

  42. Mark B. says:

    If people really believe that the Devil is making them do things, their beliefs are directly contrary to what the prophets have taught. For example, Elder Hales in April 2006: “Some may remember the old adage: “The devil made me do it.” Today I want to convey, in absolutely certain terms, that the adversary cannot make us do anything.”

    Or, President Faust in April 2007: “Some of them even claim, “The devil made me do it!” The truth in that statement is that the devil entices us to do evil.7 The falsehood is because we have agency. The devil can’t make us do anything we choose not to do.”

    Elder Faust, again, in April 1987: “We have heard comedians and others justify or explain their misdeeds by saying, “The devil made me do it.” I do not really think the devil can make us do anything. Certainly he can tempt and he can deceive, but he has no authority over us which we do not give him.”

    Elder Packer, in October 2010: “There is also an age-old excuse: “The devil made me do it.” Not so! He can deceive you and mislead you, but he does not have the power to force you or anyone else to transgress or to keep you in transgression.”

    And on and on.

  43. Angela C says:

    “Completely unrelated to spiritual matters: I said on the phone to a colleague, “I don’t know what idiot thought this would be a good business line to pursue.” His reply: “There are some things you just shouldn’t say out loud!””

    Uhm, yeah, a proud career moment for me was the day I burst into my colleague’s office with a fist full of papers and asked “What utter MORON came up with this ridiculous idea??!?” She smiled broadly and pointed to our client who was the author of said idea and sitting just inside her office. Fortunately, she had a pretty good sense of humor about it.

  44. I finally understand why women are more spiritual: “Satan targets all men….”

    According to my wife this made for a very contentious and bizarre RS meeting last Sunday as the teacher taught from Elder Lawrence’s article. I can see now that only a silent room where the participants spoke through the Spirit possibly telepathically would have allowed the sisters engage this topic without inviting the Adversary into the class.

    In all seriousness I’ve never heard this bit of folklore. But Satan riding upon the waters was a message we took seriously as missionaries and I heard D&C 61 quoted in the MTC by many. I wonder how much “culture” gets promulgated primarily through MTC teachers, Institute teachers and Seminary teachers?

    Lucifer is real and has substantial power on Earth. Some of it is due to our willingness to give him access. I’ve always understood that the 1000 years in which he will be bound after the Second Coming is due to the righteousness of the people and essentially because they turn their backs on him. Kind of how

    But like Tubes I’ve had encounters that leave no question for me that Satan has powers that some would call sorcery and possession (like those cast by Jesus into the swine in Mark 5). It’s not something to be trifled with.

  45. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Oh, I was definitely taught this, growing up. In Sunday School, at Seminary, Institute, MTC. It’s definitely messed up. Unfortunately, it doesn’t even make the list of most ridiculous things I was taught in my youth. I sometimes wonder if it would have been better to have found the Church later in life. The time and effort of unlearning the garbage I was fed during those years might negate any benefit I received from growing up in the Church. I even had a friend who stated that he was struggling with something, but wouldn’t talk to the Bishop about it because then Satan would hear and know how to tempt him. He wouldn’t tell me what it was, obviously.

  46. Pokemom says:

    I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, and I read every single edition of Especially for Mormons, and that did plenty o’ damage with its weird and manipulative folklore, stuff I have had to push out as false for my mental health! In spite of that immersion in crazy Mormon folklore, I missed this one in the OP about speaking out loud.

    Somehow I got exactly the other message in my life: that although even silent prayers are heard, prayers out loud were more effective. I had even felt guilty for silent prayers, except for the primary admonition that I can pray to god any time, anywhere. (There are gifts from teaching primary.) I also internalized that we should pray about everything, to be honest and open (needy naked sounds) before God. So I pray silently a lot. And out loud a lot. And for me, when I pray openly about my worst self, in real spoken words–when I pray openly about my worst fears, in real spoken words–when I pray openly about my worst pain, in real spoken words–it closes the distance. That is when I am most connected to God, and feel more spiritual strength.

  47. Pokemom says:

    Oops. Needy naked souls.

  48. Rachael says:

    I, too, was taught this many times by many different people; I was also repeatedly taught the shaking hands with false angels thing, the idea that there were at least seven demons for every righteous LDS person and that they were jealous of our bodies and would try to take them if they could, and of course, the Satan upon the waters thing. I knew a guy in my youth who repeatedly did acid and claimed that Satan and his demons would tell him to commit suicide every time. I relayed the story to another LDS person, saying, “If I was this person, and doing acid made me hear demon voices, I would stop doing acid.” She thought it was the weirdest thing that I would even countenance the possibility that he was actually hearing Satanic voices, and not just hallucinating. I remember feeling confused at the time, since I thought every LDS person took the idea of Satan literally (I was young, and like I said, pretty heavilly exposed to the LDS folklore surrounding Satan.) Once I realized it was possible to be LDS and treat the concept of Satan figuratively rather than literally, it didn’t take long for me to shed all that nonsense.

  49. I’m so happy about this. The boys in our area wait to complete their Eagle Scout project until they are in HS so that they can count it on college applications. I have a feeling they will stay in the program until that is done and then leave.

  50. Reminds me of a joke I heard some time ago and can’t attribute –

    When sports players do well, they often credit Jesus. Why does it never work the other way?

    “Yeah, I was doing great . . . Til -Jesus- made me fumble!” ;P

    Since we’re a religion at least partially founded on “folk doctrine”, which ones you believe in are pretty much between you and the spirit.

  51. orangganjil says:

    If God’s plan depends upon Satan to deceive, instigate evil, be an adversary, or tempt us, why couldn’t Satan just cease doing those things and thus bring God’s plan to naught? If my being tempted by Satan is critical to God’s plan, why doesn’t Satan just not tempt me? I mean, how stupid is he?

    The LDS perspective on Satan seems ridiculous to me. It could use a makeover.

  52. larryco_ says:

    “So if I want to curse Satan out, do I have to do it vocally or non-vocally?”
    Jax: The scriptures even warn you about how to do that, as in D&C 50:
    “…you shall proclaim against that (presumably evil) spirit with a loud voice that it is not of God—Not with railing accusation, that ye be not overcome, neither with boasting nor rejoicing, lest you be seized therewith.”
    Or it could just be that the evil spirit is currently possessing the body of a 6’2″, 230 lb. MMA guy, in which case one might be wise to keep the railing to a minimum,

  53. I’ve completely let go of the idea that angels, or Satan, or anyone is silent notes taking. It’s not like it’s actual doctrine just because it’s in a song. And because that line of reasoning leads to scrupulosity, which it turns out is not healthy at all.

    But I don’t expect to hear General Authorities ever let go of the idea. Because while scrupulosity is terrible for the individual member, it’s good for the institutional church.

  54. Just my experience, there is no devil. Oocam’s razor never cut so much fuss out of my life than cutting the devil out of it.

  55. I’ve heard it before though I was probably in my early 20s before I first came across it. A friend refused to pray out loud because he didn’t want the devil to know his thoughts.

    There may be a limit to what the devilish can discern of our thoughts and motives, but I find no good in emphasizing the point. To discourage prayer or constantly instill with fear is a doctrine that makes no sense and bears no good fruit. The adversary is far more intelligent than we are at present and with constant observation of words and actions probably has a remarkably keen understanding of what drives us, what tempts us, and why.

    I don’t doubt there are certain limitations on him and his followers, but think we would be better served focusing on purifying and consecrating our thoughts than trying to keep them secret. One leads to celestial glories while the other doesn’t seem to be in keeping with laws and principles of the same.

  56. Satan is just a convenient excuse for human weakness. Adam and Eve weren’t tempted by the snake, that was a lie they came up with after eating the fruit. (Seriously, “he made us do it”? They sound like little kids clumsily trying to shift the blame. Adults take responsibility for their actions.)

    Of course, Adam was also lying about Eve being the first to try the fruit. That particular story takes on whole new (and more psychologically accurate) meaning if you realize that the fruit gave them the ability to lie (though not well, of course–that takes practice).

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