This week has been a big week for deception. Between Lance Armstrong's confession and the mess Manti Te'o got into with a non-existent girlfriend, one wonders when all the lying will stop. If you haven't figured it our yet. It's not going to stop. It never has. It never will. Lying is common and, at times, even useful and humane. But some people uniformly condemn others for telling lies. Is that hypocritical?
Psychologists who study deception are analyzing the entire Lance Armstrong episode and are concluding that the lies he's told are probably no more persistent and outsized than the ones we all tell. They just received more publicity and the stakes and consequences of whom was affected may have been greater.
Robert Feldman, Dean of Social and Behaviorial Sciences at The University of Massachussetts maintains we all lie as much as we do because it works. We start lying by the age of four, lie several times a day and we get progressively better at it. Usually the lies are minor: "Love that tie", "You did a great job", "No, you don't look fat in those jeans.", etc.
It's not that easy to lie. It takes mental effort and the longer the lie is perpetuated, the more infrastructure is built around it, It also takes a good memory.Ironically, often people who lie often see themselves as good and decent people. But we all rationalize lies at times. It's a very human thing to do.
Most of us will always maintain that we don't condone lying nor appreciate it. But sometimes it is so intricately weaved into our culture that we have no choice. Have you ever told a child about Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny? At times we lie to boost someones self-esteem or to help them in a difficult situation. I don't know how to make that seem right if you are strictly an anti-liar. But I will probably continue to perpetuate lies like those. We used to call them little white lies....inferring that they really didn't hurt anyone. But lies and deception, we are told in our religions is always a bad thing.
So where do we stand on lying? Are we justified condemning a famous person when they make a massive admission to a lie when we also lie? I have no idea. I'm getting a bit of a headache just thinking about this subject and it's complexities and that's no lie!