Sunday, February 25, 2007


(Each "Question of the Week," an idea which I gleaned from A Republic If You Can Keep It, will remain toward the top of the blog until the next question appears. The previous Questions of the Week are HERE. Please scroll down for recent postings)

On Monday, February 19, 2007, the Washington Post ran an article entitled "Almost Everyone Lies, Often Seeing It as a Kindness." Some of the article discussed lying as it relates to the Scooter Libby trial. But other portions of the article detail findings which do not specifically relate to politics nor to the legal system.

Excerpts from the article (emphases mine):
Experiments have found that ordinary people tell about two lies every 10 minutes, with some people getting in as many as a dozen falsehoods in that period....[L]iars tend to be more popular than honest people....

"It is not that lying makes you popular, but knowing when to say something and not be completely blunt is in fact a social skill," Feldman said. "We don't want to hear hurtful things, so a person who is totally honest may not be as popular as someone who lies. This is not to say lying is a good thing, but it is the way the social world operates."

Lying turns out to be one of those issues on which Americans simultaneously hold contrary points of view. On the one hand, the nation admires such icons as George "Cannot Tell a Lie" Washington and Abraham "Honest Abe" Lincoln. But Americans are an extremely sociable and gregarious people, and if the psychological experiments are accurate, being socially skillful almost always involves the ability and willingness to deceive.


But before you get all high and mighty about how your lies never got anyone killed, consider this. A lot of research shows that serious lies are almost always told with the best of intentions. Think of it this way: Everyone would agree that telling a Nazi knocking at your door that you are not harboring Jews is a lie worth telling -- a heroic, necessary lie. What is harder to understand is that many people who lie for what we feel are contemptible reasons see themselves in the same heroic light.
You can read the complete Washington Post article HERE.

Is lying ever justified? If so, under what conditions?


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posted by Always On Watch @ 2/25/2007 11:59:00 PM