we’re all liars

CBC Doc Zone broadcasted a documentary on lying earlier this month. Below are excerpts from the last 5 minutes of “The Truth About Liars”. Lines that are not otherwise attributed are quotes from the narrator, Anne-Marie McDonald. The full video is embedded at the end of this post.

The secret of politics is this: tell people the lies that are consistent with their own self-deception [that is, the lies that people tell themselves]. If you can do that, you’re a successful politician. So, we’re not really that concerned about politicians lying to us. If we were, we would be horrified at every bit of political campaigning because it’s mostly all bullshit.

– David Livingstone Smith,
University of New England

The experts say our faith, our trust, that leaders are telling the truth has been eroding for years. Now it’s become commonplace to see our leaders in business, entertainment and sports face disgrace in front of the television cameras. And then, often, life seems to go on pretty much as it did before: our heros reduced and returned to us, our respect replaced by cynicism and satire. But is this spectacle changing how the rest of us behave? Experts say there is no evidence that we’re all lying and cheating more; it may just look that way because television and technology allow us to see it more, to catch our leaders in the act.

Finding the truth about liars begins with accepting some facts: We all lie; We’re going to have to continue lying if we’re going to get along.

If your spouse says to you when you come home from a party, was I the most attractive woman there? And you say, no there were three other that were prettier. Well, that might be the truth, but that would be rather cruel. And what’s the point, what’s the gain?

– Paul Ekman, Psychologist

All the research leads to one conclusion. To truly understand how lying plays out in our daily lives, we have to give up a comfortable piece of self-deception; the belief that we’re always honest and truthful beings. We’re not.

Look, you’re a liar and I’m a liar. It’s OK. We need to accept that. If we’re concerned with truth, we need to accept that.

– David Livingstone Smith,
University of New England

But in the end, looking for lies in every face is no way to live.

You’ve got a choice in life as to whether you’re going to be trusting and risk being misled, or you’re going to be suspicious and risk disbelieving a truthful person. If you’re not a policeman, don’t act like one. Be trusting. You’ll be happier in life. You’re much better off with your friends and family members to risk being misled than to risk disbelieving them when they’re truthful.

– Paul Ekman, Psychologist

One Response to “we’re all liars”

  1. ld Says:

    Visit ld

    The lie: tertiary importance – human vs corruption-everyone lies, it’s humanistic to a point where personal benefit supersedes humanistic characteristic’s. A lie created to deflect accountability, perpetuated by culprit for over 2 months with no “human” beneficial validation provided for perpetuating that particular lie- humanistic or corrupt for personal benefit? Any lie could have been chosen randomly to end the entire situation from the start while protecting the identity of originator of the email: “I regret to inform the voters of White Rock that one of the volunteers on our team has sent out an email without my authorization. We will take care of this situation internally. This is not how we do business. My sincere apologies to everyone”. This is what a lie created with the intention of protecting someone looks like.

    The action: secondary importance-McCarthism/Salem witch hunts – create partial information based upon partial documentation for accusation/create completely fabricated evidence, select targets, disburse accusations publically. We are unbelievably privileged in Canada to have democracy, rights, laws, and the liberty to speak. Travel abroad to where any of the above do not exist to remind yourself of why privilege needs protection.

    The law: first importance – democracy- the evolution of fair democratic process in BC has been evolving for over 150 years. An example of this is the newly written Bill 42 which relates to Provincial elections. As technology changes to enhance communication for example, the legislation and laws need to be periodically reviewed and updated to reflect those changes. A law was created (the local government act) to protect the voting public from lies and actions created and perpetuated for personal gain/power/greed. Without laws governing fair democratic process, anyone can anonymously print fliers, pay to have them distributed to every household the day before an election, containing any lie such as “ candidate X is a child molestor, include a fabricated story with downloaded pictures”. All candidates know what the law is when they decide to run for public office.

    Included in all three : public interest, ethics, public trust, accountability, power, greed – everything you’d find in Shakespeare.

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