Liar, Liar, Truth on Fire
There was a charmer called Thomas
Who broke too many a promise
His mouth was a liar
His pants caught on fire
His name’s all that’s left of dear Thomas
No idea who Thomas is or why his words are now ashes. My neighbour had a bonfire, and this is all that was left of it… so my mind spun a little story. A lie known as imagination.
Unfortunately this is not a foolproof lie detecting system. Liars’ pants do not often, if ever, catch on fire, and if they did, we’d all suffer burns. We all lie, some more than others, and there is an endless variation of lies, from itty bitty white lies to big fat whoppers, from creative fiction to autobiographical memories, from self-deception to manipulation, and so on into infinity… if such a thing exists.
Lying, like the truth, is subjective. One person’s lie may be a truth for someone else. It depends on your interpretation of what a lie is and what a truth is. So, it’s complicated.
We all have our own lie detecting tools. Sometimes they are effective, and sometimes they are defective. Accuracy relies on calibration. If we created the lie detector based on a certain type of liar, then it will detect people who have a similar style, but won’t detect those who have a style which we have not dealt with before. It also relies upon our personal motivations and interests. If someone tells you something you want to hear, you are less likely to consider that it is a lie. If someone tells you something you don’t want to hear, then it’s probably going get classified as a lie, and the person branded a liar.
Someone I know, who is quite a charmer and relies a lot on their charm to travel far, told me that they would rather be told the truth even if it hurts, than be lied to to be spared the pain… they said this after they had gotten very hurt and upset at an inane comment I made. When I pointed out to them that their heroic approach to hearing the abrasive truth instead of a gentle lie was not reflected in their actions which denoted someone seeking comfort in a lie to escape the truth… they evaded the truth once again.
The concept that the truth hurts is a bit errant, and strays from the truth about truth. The awful truth hurts because it aims to sting and is usually not the truth at all, but a lie disguised as truth. Real truth, as in someone just saying what they think as long as it is done with understanding, usually doesn’t hurt… unless you’re hell bent on being hurt or living a lie. Lies are similar, some lies are told to hurt, some to help, others because… it is sometimes hard to know what is real and what isn’t.
So… how do you tell the difference between a lie and a truth?