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Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Liar Liar pants on fire!

Sorry about the lateness of this post I have been unwell over the weekend!

Recently a friend of mine asked me where one of our old lecturers was. I believed this lecturer to be in the canteen so said this. When my friend returned he jokingly said "Lair!" as the lecturer was no longer there. He was obviously joking but it got me thinking about lying.

In my example it would be hard for someone to actually consider it a lie as I was merely passing on information I believed to be true, but what about in other cases?

This is the classic 'David after Dentist' viral video in which a young child is full of painkillers and is clearly having a slight trip. During the exchange the father clearly says things to the child which are not true. Does this make them lies? Two issues can be raised from this.

The first being if the recipient is does not understand what is happening around them, and in this case is likely not to remember, then is this actually a lie? Technically speaking the father is telling a lie to the child, if your view of a lie is something which is not true and you know it to be untrue.

I see a lie more a case of deceit than I do simply saying something which is untrue. For example you can say something so ridiculous and silly that it will not be believed. If the father had told anyone not full of painkillers that he had stitches on his teeth then it would not be taken seriously.

Another case is when engaging with children. Say if your spouse took the last cookie and you caught them. Whilst your partner is still chewing and has crumbs on his/her mouth if you then ask if he/she took it and they reply with "No..." then this is not really lying because it is blatantly obvious that he/she did. There is actually no deceit involved. We have all been in that situation and we all know that we don't really expect the other person to accept we didn't do it.

Another friend of mine told how when she asked her child what he was doing in the bathroom he replied with "Well I'm not drawing on the walls...", which if anything is actually admitting that he was. In a way he was lying since if he was writing on the wall then what he actually said was untrue. This suggests that lying is about more than words and is rooted more in meaning. We pick up other cues than just the words themselves to tell if someone is lying to us or not.

The trouble is then with white lying. The intention is good and you are trying to deceive someone to believe something positive, however this is still deceit. In this case does the end justify the means? Is it okay to lie to someone to make them feel better?

I believe it depends on the exact case. If it is just a lie to make your wife feel good about themselves then fine. The trouble comes in these talentless idiots who keep appearing on X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent. So many of the joke entries actually believe they are talented which makes me think their friends and family have had to confirm this for them. There becomes a point where you have to hurt someone's feelings for the sake of saving their feelings in the long run. The lesser of two evils in a way.


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