Monday, September 9, 2013

A Short Essay on Lying

There are certain places where you just expect that everyone is lying. Take a poker game for instance. Poker players win or loose not so much based on the the turn of the cards, but on how well they can lie about their strong or weak position with respect to the other players. This is expected and in a poker game, and if you are horrified or angry about such behavior, you really ought to find something else to do with your money.

In other pursuits, lying is generally frowned on. Cheating wives or husbands, children with balls and broken windows, or the family member that polishes off the last piece of pie in the fridge. These are instances where lying is just not acceptable as a normal course of events, and generally has dire consequences for the liar such as divorce or alienation, a tanned butt or drained allowance, or family members secreting snacks in less vulnerable locations.

Then there is the middle ground. Personal taxes and politicians come to mind. I would wager that more than half of the people who file taxes enhance their 'charitable contributions' simply because there generally are little or no consequences since receipts are not required for amounts less than $300. Overall such little lies are insignificant as the $100 savings on taxes is insignificant. Similarly, politicians will often lie and say they are either doing something when they are not or will claim they are doing nothing when they are. It is the nature of the beast and citizens generally expect no less, as long as the lie does not embarrass them or cause any real harm. That is the key.

One common denominator of chronic liars is their 'tells'. The more they lie, generally the easier it is to see their tell. That's why really good poker players excel at reading tells and muting their own. The more impaired a liar is, the more pronounced the tell. take for example your average drug abuser. They generally lie all the time and feel that they are good at it. Some of them even are. Mostly though, for those around them, their lies are transparent and even a little sad.

So that brings me to the reason for this little essay. I heard on the news this morning that our fearless leader did a series of taped interviews with major networks to try to convince the citizens of the need for his desire to punitively punish Syria. My thoughts were two fold. First, he has proven himself untruthful on matters of substance too many times for me to believe any evidence he may present (Fast & Furious, Benghazi, IRS targeting, et. al.). Secondly, the fact that he is only presenting his case in controlled and taped interviews is something of a tell for him. If he had real and incontrovertible evidence, he would have gone to the UN and Congress like Bush did and presented his case there. Choosing to make his case to a NBC interviewer virtually negates any minute chance that he might be presenting truthful information.

What is perhaps saddest is that somehow he and his advisers believe that they are able to fool the public with this ruse. Only the most brain dead of citizen will not recognize this tell and believe what is presented. I do feel sorry for him in the same way that I feel sorry for the drug addict on the corner insisting that he needs 'just a dollar or two to get something to eat'.  Yet there is some percentage of the population that will reach in their pockets and give that guy money. There is also a percentage of the population that will be convinced by these taped interviews. The scary thing is that the thin margin of those that recognize and reject the 'tell' is the same margin on which our democracy teeters over the brink of the unimaginable.

God help us all.

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