Wednesday, 17 November 2010

lies and the lying liars etc, why the public tell them

this piece by Eric Joyce MP is vg.  Hat-tip Marbury. People lie about the amount of tax they are prepared to pay, they lie about how they vote, they lie about, oh, most things really.  But they are not liars.  Politicians are.  Well-known fact.  Lying has something to do with class, and with deference (which is not what Eric Joyce is saying) and in fact people do less of it now than they used to, in certain circumstances.  My mother used to lie, especially to doctors, when prescribed medicine had not been taken and she said it had, when she didn't want to treat her children in the way the health visitor told her she should, but told them she had.  This was in the 1950s. She doesn't lie to doctors any more.  She feels she has more power than she had then.  So does lying come from powerlessness?  Or from elsewhere?  Discuss.


Anonymous said...

I think there is a huge difference between a lie and a fib.

dreamingspire said...

Example: Transport Minister Theresa Villiers claiming that, to reduce overcrowding on rail services, rail franchisees can bring in extra carriages without DfT approval - no they cannot, 'cos they need DfT subsidy on a per carriage basis or else they will lose money operating the extra stock.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

People don't seem to say, and I paraphrase, "let he without sin cast the first stone" as much as they used to either.

I often think that people in general would do well to remember that most of those in authority are, put simply, just like us. The police are us. The army is full of people like us. Politicians are (mostly) like us. Normal people.

Normal people are occasionally dishonest, occasionally mean, and occasionally quite unpleasant so quite
why we are collectively so shocked that some people in authority fall foul of the whiter than white police (journalists, in the main) I cannot understand.


Anonymous said...


And if anyone are a bunch of lying, cheating, thieving bastards its the journalists. You don't see records published of their expenses. Why not?

Anonymous said...

I think the reasons for “lying” are many and various, but one thing which ought to be taken into account is “complexity”. Both politicians and journalists (to take a random couple of groups) are both required to simplify very complex matters into very simple propositions. Consequently, most of the detail gets lost, and any slight deviation from their simplified utterances on any subject are regarded as rank apostasy. It doesn’t help that those two groups go out of their way to make the other simplify things as much as possible, in order to get their message across.

Life is complicated. Maybe some lies aren’t really lies at all.

Anonymous said...

Well - you know - certain journalists will be in the firing line at Screws now that Mulcaire has been ordered by the High Court to name names. So - swings/roundabouts etc.

Suppose the difference is that disgraced journos have the media contacts to make even bigger successes following said disgrace. Does anyone even remember Piers Morgan's previous as Ed of The Daily Mirror?

David Akroyd said...

There are two kinds of liars, ordinary liars and pathological or compulsive liars.

Most people have lied at some time, but with compulsive liars it seems to be a default position. They do it even when they don't have to i.e. they could have got what they wanted anyway without resorting to falsehood.

Being more used to it, compulsive liars are typically a lot better at it than ordinary liars.

For a compulsive liar, concepts such as truth or falsity are probably irrelevant anyway, all that matters is expedient.

As anyone who has been active in politics knows, it tends to attract an unusually high proportion of compulsive liars.