The Perceptions of Lying
Lying is an intentional making of a false impression about any particular circumstance or thing. It does not mean that everyone who lies does it with some bad intentions. Some do it with the intention to save others from being hurt and to prevent severe damage from arising. On the contrary, those who lie with nefarious intentions do it for their own benefit (Sahraoui et al., 2012). There are many ways through which people lie. These ways are clearly evidenced by Stephanie Ericsson in the book The Way We Lie by Gregory Akerman (2011). The ways are classified into several types that are given below.
The White Lie
It assumes that an ordinary lie can prevent substantial damage that would otherwise be caused by telling the truth. It allows a person to be of good judgments to what others want. For instance, telling a stressed person that one’s day was good, when it was actually not, would relieve that person a little from his stress. However, there are some instances when while lie is applied inappropriately. In the situation that is given by Stephanie when a sergeant in Vietnam was aware that some of his men had been killed in war but listed him missing so that his family would always receive an indefinite award instead of the lump-sum pittances that the military gives to widows and children (Printz et al., 1991). This, in effect, caused a lot of harm to this family as they still hoped that he would be back.
This kind of lie occurs when a person’s actions influence others, but later they become aware that those actions were only meant to deceive them. This way of lying is destructive. It is evidenced in the case when Ericsson worked with her friend for six months but received
remarkably little payments. Later her friend tried to convince her that she had heard him wrong and that he had made no commitment to her.
Ignoring the Obvious Fact
This means ignoring something that is seriously wrong and failing to make a good solution, which leads to bigger damage. As an instance, the case of the catholic father who was sexually molesting children could be regarded. Instead of relieving him of his roles, the ecclesiastical governors simply moved him from a particular parish to another one, hoping that he would be cured. However, after some time, the number of children that he had molested had increased instead (Clark et al., 2000). The Catholic Church had committed an enormous lie in their covering of father Porter, which led to severe consequences.
This arises when there is a difficult circumstance, and one is forced to make a statement that distracts from the main concern. Cicero states “ when you have not basis for an argument, abuse the plaintiff”, which clearly defines the deflective way of lying. It is evidenced when Clarence Thomas exploded with accusations that the senate hearings were a “high-tech lynching”, rather than defending himself. He took the offensive and accused the country of racism (Hartin et al., 2004). This involves never mentioning things that one wants to hide, which makes it an effective way of hiding.
Most of the truth is told in this case, but one only omits a particular fact that changes the complete meaning of the issue. For example, the omission of the Sumerian goddess Lilith from the Bible, which was a patriarchal strategy, meant to keep women weak.
Stereotypes and Cliche’s
The opinion does not exist in this case. The situation is just explained in a situation with just enough truth, and it seems unquestionable. When Ericsson admitted in front of a group of individuals that she had a mouth like a truck driver, to her surprise, a man stood up and said that he was a truck driver and that he never cussed. This lying that was exhibited by this man destroyed the curiosity that had developed in other people’s minds of what Ericsson perceives about truck drivers’ mouth (Canez et al., 2011).
This is a situation where dissent and appraisals of alternatives are suppressed. What matters here is the loyalty of the group. An example is the warning that Japan was preparing for a massive military operation.
A situation where the one being lied to is aware of the lie. For instance, Ericsson asked her five-year-old nephew whom she had seen break a fence. The child answered that it was the murderers.
This is dismissing feelings, perceptions, or even the raw facts of the situation. An example is when a child tells his mum that he is afraid of the man living next door, and the mother replies to the kid that it is false, that the kid likes the man, and that he should go make friends with him.
It is how people try to see excuses as facts when they truly believe in what they are telling. Eric Hoffer in his statement “We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves” defines delusion. It helps in protecting one from facts that one does not want to face. For example, the alcoholic
person believes that his problems are the reasons for his drinking, while people around think that alcohol is the cause of the problems (Clark et al., 2000).
The Good Ways to Lie
Contradicting the Truth
It involves shifting the guiltiness away to another party that is less defensive, e.g. in a question where one asks “Who ate the fish?” and the other replies that it was the cat.
Telling Part of the Truth
It involves leaving some part of the story untold. An example could be a question like “Who poured the water?”, and the reply is that it was the cow. The statement “after it was frightened by the donkey” is omitted.
Telling the Truth in an Unconvincing way
This involves admitting the crime and then later saying that the previous statements were just jokes. For instance, in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman story “The Kindly Ones”, there is a woman reminds a murder that she committed. When she is asked whether she jokes, she replies “Joking with you? Of course: if I had actually murdered a man, would I say to anyone?”
The Bad Ways to Lie
- Lying to liars. It is not right to lie to someone just because the person lied to you.
- White lies with evil intentions or self-interest. For example, when the Vietnam sergeant listed a dead man missing to alter the amount of compensation to be received by widows and children.
- Deontologists. When the lies are meant to protect a criminal.
From the evidence that is provided by parties like Stephanie Ericsson and many others, it is clear that lies are part of our everyday life, and it appears almost impossible to survive without them. Most people engage themselves into some lies in one way or another without even recognizing it, as it is a daily lubricant to the way of living. Most of these parties are all against lying; therefore, lying is not good as any other party is concerned. However, since lying is a part of individuals’ lives, one must apply them in the right situations, such as situations when lying causes less harm to others than it would actually do if the truth was told. Lying in order to do some good deeds is never ethical. Sometimes lying could be a more appropriate ethical response to a particular conflict. Philosopher Immanuel Kant said that lying was always morally wrong. It prevents one from making some good decisions. However, comparing lying and truth to tell which is ethical, it is evident that lying is not ethical. Lying affects the deceived, the liar, and the community as a whole. The white lie is the most common way of lying. The person who lies is affected by his/her lies because he/she has to remember the lie and must act in conformity with it, he. Later, the liar should tell more lies to avoid being uncovered. The community is affected by lies because the general level of truthfulness falls, which leads to lack of trust and the weakining of social cohesion.