Visualization of narrower problems
Dependence on falsehoods
Intentional misleading statements
Whether to lie, equivocate, be silent, or tell the truth in any given situation is often a hard decision. Duplicity can take so many forms and have such different purposes and results. Questions of truth and lying inevitably pervade all that is said or left unspoken in relationships, communities and societies. Sometimes there may be sufficient reason to lie -- but when ? The major works of moral philosophy of this century are silent on the subject. Whilst lying may be excusable or seemingly inconsequential from the viewpoint of the person lying, for the person who is given false information about important choices in their lives, the lie may render them powerless or disadvantaged. Lies may also eliminate or obscure relevant alternatives, or affect the objective appraisal of costs and benefits.
St Augustine defined eight kinds of lie, from lies protecting innocence to deadly religious falsehoods. In between come lies which cause injury, white lies for the sake of smooth discourse and lies told for the sheer heck of it. In the past, Jesuits practised the art of equivocation, using the method of "mental reservation" (like crossing our fingers) to justify misleading statements. Heroditus, first branded a liar by Thucydides, was then called the Father of Lies by Oscar Wilde in his 1891 book [The Decay of Lying].

"Scientific" signs of lying are blinking, nose scratching, dry mouth, high-pitched voice, dilated pupils, hesitation and fidgety feet. Folkloric give-aways are biting on your tongue while eating, a blistered or spotty tongue and knocking over a chair when getting up. The polygraph, or lie detector, has been discredited by the [Lancet] and shown to be more likely to implicate the innocent than catch the guilty. But in the USA it is used by the CIA, Army Intelligence, and the FBI, amongst others. The condition of pathological lying is called [pseudologia phantastica]. Sufferers often pose as authority figures.

Lying (whether in the form of outright untruth, exaggeration, understatement, omission, or 'white lies') is routinely used to manipulate the feelings and thoughts of others. It is also used in self-defence when people are confronted, and as a means of avoiding accountability. A British Telecom survey in 1990 found that seven in 10 secretaries were prepared to tell lies to cover for their employer. It may be essential to the process of selling goods and services, especially in encouraging people to purchase what they do not need. In many professions deception is taken from granted when it is felt to be excusable by those who tell the lies and those who tend also to make the rules. Government officials and those who run for elections often deceive when they can get away with it and when they assume that the true state of affairs is beyond the comprehension of citizens. Social scientists may condone deceptive experimentation on the ground that the knowledge gained will be worth having. Lawyers manipulate the truth in court on behalf of the clients. Journalists, police investigators, and intelligence operators often have little compunction in using falsehoods to gain the knowledge they seek.
1. Lying is an act contrary to truthfulness, or the virtue of veracity, consisting in the communication to another of a judgement that is not in accord with what the one who communicates thinks to be true. Lying not only has negative consequences for the liar and the deceived parties, but also gives rise to spreading deception and practices which may undermine entire communities. The veneer of social trust is often thin, and as lies spread - by imitation, or in retaliation, or to forestall suspected deception - trust is damaged. When trust is damaged, the community as a whole suffers; and when it is destroyed, societies falter and collapse.

2. Telling a lie is not the same as not telling the truth. Establishing the truth does not settle the moral question of whether a lie is being told or not. In order to settle this question, it is necessary to know whether the statement was intended to mislead. Any number of appearances and words can be misleading; but only a fraction of them are intended to do so. A lie is an intentionally deceptive message in the form of a statement.

3. If, like truth, the lie had but one face, we would be on better terms. For we would accept as certain the opposite of what the liar would say. But the reverse of truth has a hundred thousand faces and an infinite field (Montaigne).

4. Lying undermines the liar's assessment of his own integrity. Its damages the speaker in that he looks at those he has lied to with a new caution; and if the lie is known he may lose the confidence of his peers. Lying thus creates emotional and physical tension that is detrimental to liars' health. Paradoxically, also, once his word is no longer trusted, he will be left with greatly decreased power -- even though a lie often does bring at least a short-term gain in power over those deceived.

5. A lie may never be told for the preservation of the temporal life of another. Death kills but the body, but a lie loses eternal life for the soul.

1. Lying may be a legitimate tool of defence, as in protection under repressive societies and regimes. It is crucial to see the distinction between the free-loading liar and a liar whose deception is a strategy for survival in a corrupt society.

2. Lying is as much a part of normal growth as telling the truth. The ability to lie is a human achievement that tends to set them apart from all other species.

3. Everyone lies; but it doesn't matter, since nobody listens.

4. Gypsies traditionally enjoyed telling elaborated stories and they not hesitate to invent many of them in order to reach effects they desired. Even direct cheating the "impure" gadjo people (the surrounding majority) was more of a challenge than an offence. Lying was part of their defence and survival strategy. Therefore, still today the popular image of Gypsies is the one of liars and unreliable people. Not surprisingly, if the word "Gypsy" is used as a verb, it is synonymous with "lying" in Slovak as well as in Czech language. Understanding these background cultural reasons is vital for removing old stereotypes.

(F) Fuzzy exceptional problems