For other uses, see Lie (disambiguation)
A lie is a type of deception, an untruth or telling the truth.Lie or LIE may also refer to:*Lie *Lie *"Lie" , a song by Black Light Burns*Lie: The Love and Terror Cult, an album by Charles Manson...
(also called prevarication
) is a type of deception
Deception, beguilement, deceit, bluff, mystification, bad faith, and subterfuge are acts to propagate beliefs that are not true, or not the whole truth . Deception can involve dissimulation, propaganda, and sleight of hand. It can employ distraction, camouflage or concealment...
in the form of an untruthful statement, especially with the intention to deceive others.
is to state something with disregard to the truth
Truth has a variety of meanings, such as the state of being in accord with fact or reality. It can also mean having fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal. In a common usage, it also means constancy or sincerity in action or character...
with the intention that people will accept the statement as truth.
is a person who is lying, who has previously lied, or who tends by nature to lie repeatedly—even when not necessary.
Lying is typically used to refer to deceptions in oral or written communication. Other forms of deception, such as disguise
A disguise can be anything which conceals or changes a person's physical appearance, including a wig, glasses, makeup, costume or other ways. Camouflage is one type of disguise for people, animals and objects...
s or forgeries, are generally not considered lies, though the underlying intent may be the same.
Serious lies (such as perjury
Perjury, also known as forswearing, is the willful act of swearing a false oath or affirmation to tell the truth, whether spoken or in writing, concerning matters material to a judicial proceeding. That is, the witness falsely promises to tell the truth about matters which affect the outcome of the...
In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation...
, and defamation) are punishable by law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...
A lie which attempts to trick the victim into believing something major which will likely be contradicted by some information the victim already possesses, or by their common sense. When the lie is of sufficient magnitude it may succeed due to the victim's reluctance to believe that an untruth on such a grand scale would indeed be fabricated.
To bluff is to pretend to have a capability or intention one does not actually possess. Bluffing is an act of deception that is rarely seen as immoral when it takes place in the context of a game where this kind of deception is consented to in advance by the players. For instance, a gambler who deceives other players into thinking he has different cards to those he really holds, or an athlete who hints he will move left and then dodges right is not considered to be lying (also known as a feint
Feint is a French term that entered English from the discipline of fencing. Feints are maneuvers designed to distract or mislead, done by giving the impression that a certain maneuver will take place, while in fact another, or even none, will...
or juke). In these situations, deception is acceptable and is commonly expected as a tactic.
A barefaced (or bald-faced) lie is one that is obviously a lie to those hearing it. The phrase comes from 17th-century British usage referring to those without facial hair as being seen as particularly forthright and outwardly honest, and therefore more likely to get away with telling a significant lie. A variation that has been in use almost as long is bold-faced lie
, referring to a lie told with a straight and confident face (hence "bold-faced"), usually with the corresponding tone of voice and emphatic body language of one confidently speaking the truth. Bold-faced lie
can also refer to misleading or inaccurate newspaper headlines, but this usage appears to be a more recent appropriation of the term.
A term coined by researchers at Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...
that describes small/innate lies which are usually sent electronically, and are used to terminate conversations. For example sending an SMS to someone reading "I have to go, the waiter is here" when you are not at a restaurant is an example of a butler lie.
One can state part of the truth out of context, knowing that without complete information, it gives a false impression. Likewise, one can actually state accurate facts, yet deceive with them. To say "Yeah, that's right, I ate all
the white chocolate, by myself," utilizing a sarcastic, offended tone, may cause the listener to assume the speaker did not mean what he said, when in fact he did.
Economy with the truth
Economy with the truth is popularly used as a euphemism
A euphemism is the substitution of a mild, inoffensive, relatively uncontroversial phrase for another more frank expression that might offend or otherwise suggest something unpleasant to the audience...
for deceit, whether by volunteering false information (i.e., lying) or by deliberately holding back relevant facts. More literally, it describes a careful use of facts so as not to reveal too much information, as in speaking carefully
An emergency lie is a strategic lie told when the truth may not be told because, for example, harm to a third party would result. For example, a neighbor might lie to an enraged wife about the whereabouts of her unfaithful husband, because said wife might reasonably be expected to inflict physical injury should she encounter her husband in person. Alternatively, an emergency lie could denote a (temporary) lie told to a second person because of the presence of a third.
An exaggeration (or hyperbole) occurs when the most fundamental aspects of a statement are true, but only to a certain degree. It is also seen as "stretching the truth" or making something appear more powerful, meaningful, or real than it actually is.
A fabrication is a lie told when someone submits a statement as truth, without knowing for certain whether or not it actually is
true. Although the statement may be possible or plausible, it is not based on fact. Rather, it is something made up, or it is a misrepresentation of the truth. Examples of fabrication: A person giving directions to a tourist when the person doesn't actually know the directions. Often propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....
Jocose (cf. jocular) lies are lies meant in jest, intended to be understood as such by all present parties. Teasing and irony
Irony is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or situation in which there is a sharp incongruity or discordance that goes beyond the simple and evident intention of words or actions...
are examples. A more elaborate instance is seen in some storytelling
Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, images and sounds, often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and in order to instill moral values...
traditions, where the humor comes from the storyteller's insistence that the story is the absolute truth, despite all evidence to the contrary (i.e., tall tale
A tall tale is a story with unbelievable elements, related as if it were true and factual. Some such stories are exaggerations of actual events, for example fish stories such as, "that fish was so big, why I tell ya', it nearly sank the boat when I pulled it in!" Other tall tales are completely...
). There is debate about whether these are "real" lies, and different philosophers hold different views (see below).
The Crick Crack Club in London organize a yearly "Grand Lying Contest" with the winner being awarded the coveted "Hodja Cup" (named for the Mulla Nasreddin
Nasreddin was a Seljuq satirical Sufi figure, sometimes believed to have lived during the Middle Ages and considered a populist philosopher and wise man, remembered for his funny stories and anecdotes. He appears in thousands of stories, sometimes witty, sometimes wise, but often, too, a fool or...
: "The truth is something I have never spoken."
). The winner in 2010 was Hugh Lupton
Hugh Lupton is one of the most prominent figures in the Oral Storytelling Tradition. He co-founded the Company of Storytellers in 1985, and for a while ran a branch of The Crick Crack Club in Norfolk...
A lie-to-children is a lie, often a platitude
A platitude is a trite, meaningless, biased, or prosaic statement, often presented as if it were significant and original. The word derives from plat, the French word for "flat." Whether any given statement is considered to have meaning is highly subjective, so platitude is often—but not...
, which may use euphemism(s)
A euphemism is the substitution of a mild, inoffensive, relatively uncontroversial phrase for another more frank expression that might offend or otherwise suggest something unpleasant to the audience...
, which is told to make an adult subject acceptable to children. Common examples include "The stork brought you" (in reference to childbirth) and the existence of Santa Claus
Santa Claus is a folklore figure in various cultures who distributes gifts to children, normally on Christmas Eve. Each name is a variation of Saint Nicholas, but refers to Santa Claus...
, the Tooth Fairy
The tooth fairy is a fantasy figure of early childhood. The folklore states that when a child loses a baby tooth, if he or she places it beneath the bed pillow, the tooth fairy will visit while the child sleeps, replacing the lost tooth with a small payment....
or the Easter Bunny
The Easter Bunny or Easter Rabbit is a character depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs, who sometimes is depicted with clothes...
Lying by obsolete signage
Examples are the continued use of old stationery that has printed information such as a previous telephone number, or advertising that remains painted on a wall after an enterprise has ceased business.
Lying by omission
One lies by omission when omitting an important fact, deliberately leaving another person with a misconception. Lying by omission includes failures to correct pre-existing misconceptions. Also known as a continuing misrepresentation. An example is when the seller of a car declares it has been serviced regularly but does not tell that a fault was reported at the last service.
Lying in trade
The seller of a product or service may advertise untrue facts about the product or service in order to gain sales, especially by competitive advantage. Many countries and states have enacted consumer protection
Consumer protection laws designed to ensure fair trade competition and the free flow of truthful information in the marketplace. The laws are designed to prevent businesses that engage in fraud or specified unfair practices from gaining an advantage over competitors and may provide additional...
laws intended to combat such fraud. An example is the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act
that holds a seller liable for omission of any material fact that the buyer relies upon.
Lying through your teeth
When one lies face-to-face with the intended recipient. This also may be an expression describing the act of lying with a smile or other patronizing tone or body language.
A misleading statement is one where there is no outright lie, but still retains the purpose of getting someone to believe in an untruth. "Dissembling" likewise describes the presentation of facts in a way that is literally true, but intentionally misleading.
A noble lie is one that would normally cause discord if uncovered, but offers some benefit to the liar and assists in an orderly society, therefore, potentially beneficial to others. It is often told to maintain law, order and safety.
Perjury is the act of lying or making verifiably false statements on a material matter under oath or affirmation in a court of law, or in any of various sworn statements in writing. Perjury is a crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...
, because the witness has sworn to tell the truth and, for the credibility of the court to remain intact, witness testimony must be relied on as truthful.
Puffery is an exaggerated claim typically found in advertising and publicity announcements, such as "the highest quality at the lowest price," or "always votes in the best interest of all the people." Such statements are unlikely to be true - but cannot be proven false and so do not violate trade laws, especially as the consumer is expected to be able to tell that it is not the absolute truth.
The View From Nowhere
The View From Nowhere refers to journalism and analysis that disinform the audience by creating the impression that opposing parties to an issue have equal correctness and validity, even when the truth of their claims are mutually exclusive.
White lies are minor lies which could be considered to be harmless, or even beneficial, in the long term. White lies are also considered to be used for greater good. A common version of a white lie is to tell only part of the truth, therefore not be suspected of lying, yet also conceal something else, in order to avoid awkward questions.
Augustine's taxonomy of lies
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...
wrote two books about lying: On Lying
) and Against Lying
). He describes each book in his later work, Retractions
. Based on the location of De Mendacio
, it appears to have been written about 395 AD. The first work, On Lying
, begins: "Magna quæstio est de Mendacio"
("There is a great question about Lying"). From his text, it can be derived that St. Augustine divided lies into eight categories, listed in order of descending severity:
- Lies in religious teaching
- Lies that harm others and help no one
- Lies that harm others and help someone
- Lies told for the pleasure of lying
- Lies told to "please others in smooth discourse"
- Lies that harm no one and that save someone's life
- Lies that harm no one and that save someone's "purity"
- Lies that harm no one and that help someone
Augustine wrote that lies told in jest, or by someone who believes or opines the lie to be true are not, in fact, lies.
Love and war
The cliché "All is fair in love and war" finds justification for lies used to gain advantage in these situations. Sun Tzu
Sun Wu , style name Changqing , better known as Sun Tzu or Sunzi , was an ancient Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher who is traditionally believed, and who is most likely, to have authored The Art of War, an influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy...
declared that "All warfare is based on deception." Machiavelli advised in The Prince
The Prince is a political treatise by the Italian diplomat, historian and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli. From correspondence a version appears to have been distributed in 1513, using a Latin title, De Principatibus . But the printed version was not published until 1532, five years after...
"never to attempt to win by force what can be won by deception," and Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury , in some older texts Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury, was an English philosopher, best known today for his work on political philosophy...
wrote in Leviathan
Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil — commonly called simply Leviathan — is a book written by Thomas Hobbes and published in 1651. Its name derives from the biblical Leviathan...
: "In war, force and fraud are the two cardinal virtues."
The capacity to lie is noted early and nearly universally in human development. Social psychology
Social psychology is the scientific study of how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others. By this definition, scientific refers to the empirical method of investigation. The terms thoughts, feelings, and behaviors include all...
and developmental psychology
Developmental psychology, also known as human development, is the scientific study of systematic psychological changes, emotional changes, and perception changes that occur in human beings over the course of their life span. Originally concerned with infants and children, the field has expanded to...
are concerned with the theory of mind
Theory of mind is the ability to attribute mental states—beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc.—to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires and intentions that are different from one's own...
, which people employ to simulate another's reaction to their story and determine if a lie will be believable. The most commonly cited milestone, what is known as Machiavellian intelligence
In cognitive science and evolutionary psychology, Machiavellian intelligence is the capacity of an entity to be in a successful political engagement with social groups...
, is at the age of about four and a half years, when children begin to be able to lie convincingly. Before this, they seem simply unable to comprehend why others don't see the same view of events that they do—and seem to assume that there is only one point of view
Perspective in theory of cognition is the choice of a context or a reference from which to sense, categorize, measure or codify experience, cohesively forming a coherent belief, typically for comparing with another...
, which is their own.
Young children learn from experience that stating an untruth can avoid punishment for misdeeds, before they develop the theory of mind necessary to understand why it works. In this stage of development, children will sometimes tell outrageous and unbelievable lies, because they lack the conceptual framework to judge whether a statement is believable, or even to understand the concept of believability.
When children first learn how lying works, they lack the moral
A moral is a message conveyed or a lesson to be learned from a story or event. The moral may be left to the hearer, reader or viewer to determine for themselves, or may be explicitly encapsulated in a maxim...
understanding of when to refrain from doing it. This takes years of watching people tell lies, and the results of these lies, to develop a proper understanding. Propensity to lie varies greatly between children, some doing so habitually and others being habitually honest. Habits in this regard are likely to change in early adulthood.
Those with Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system...
show difficulties in deceiving others, difficulties that link to prefrontal hypometabolism. This suggests a link between the capacity for dishonesty and integrity of prefrontal functioning.
Pseudologia fantastica is a term applied by psychiatrists to the behavior of habitual or compulsive lying.
Mythomania is the condition where there is an excessive or abnormal propensity for lying and exaggerating.
A recent study found that lying takes longer than telling the truth. Or, as Chief Joseph
Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, popularly known as Chief Joseph, or Young Joseph was the leader of the Wal-lam-wat-kain band of Nez Perce during General Oliver O. Howard's attempt to forcibly remove his band and the other "non-treaty" Nez Perce to a reservation in Idaho...
succinctly put it, "It does not require many words to speak the truth."
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...
believed no general rule on lying was possible, because anybody who advocated lying could never be believed, he said. The philosophers St. Augustine
-People:* Augustine of Hippo or Augustine of Hippo , father of the Latin church* Augustine of Canterbury , first Archbishop of Canterbury* Augustine Webster, an English Catholic martyr.-Places:*St. Augustine, Florida, United States...
, as well as St. Thomas Aquinas and Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....
, condemned all lying. However, Thomas Aquinas also had an argument for lying. According to all three, there are no circumstances in which one may lie. One must be murdered, suffer torture, or endure any other hardship, rather than lie, even if the only
way to protect oneself is to lie. Each of these philosophers gave several arguments against lying, all compatible with each other. Among the more important arguments are:
- Lying is a perversion
Perversion is a concept describing those types of human behavior that are a serious deviation from what is considered to be orthodox or normal. Although it can refer to varying forms of deviation, it is most often used to describe sexual behaviors that are seen by an individual as abnormal,...
of the natural faculty of speech, the natural end of which is to communicate the thoughts of the speaker.
- When one lies, one undermines trust
In a social context, trust has several connotations. Definitions of trust typically refer to a situation characterised by the following aspects: One party is willing to rely on the actions of another party ; the situation is directed to the future. In addition, the trustor abandons control over...
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...
Meanwhile, Utilitarian philosophers have supported lies which achieve good outcomes—white lies. In his 2008 book How to Make Good Decisions and Be Right All the Time
, Iain King suggested a credible rule on lying was possible, and defined it as: "Deceive only if you can change behaviour in a way worth more than the trust you would lose, were the deception discovered (whether the deception actually is exposed or not)."
It is alleged that some belief systems
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...
may find lying to be justified. Leo Tolstoy
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist...
is cited as describing religious institutions as "the product of deception [and] lies for a good purpose".
In the Bible
The Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...
and New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....
of the Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...
both contain statements that God cannot lie (Num.
The Book of Numbers is the fourth book of the Hebrew Bible, and the fourth of five books of the Jewish Torah/Pentateuch....
The Book of Habakkuk is the eighth book of the 12 minor prophets of the Hebrew Bible. It is attributed to the prophet Habakkuk, and was probably composed in the late 7th century BC. A copy of chapters 1 and 2 is included in the Habakkuk Commentary, found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.Chapters 1-2...
2:3, Heb. 6:13–18). However, what would be perceived as examples of God lying
can be found in both testaments (2 Thess. 2:11; 1 Kings 22:23; Ezek.
The Book of Ezekiel is the third of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah and preceding the Book of the Twelve....
- "And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie" (2 Thess. 2:11 NKJV)
- "Therefore look! The has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the has declared disaster against you." (1 Kings 22:23 NKJV)And if the prophet is induced to speak anything, I the have induced that prophet, and I will stretch out My hand against him and destroy him from among My people Israel... (Ezek. 14:9 NKJV)
Various passages of the Bible feature exchanges that are conditionally critical of lying (Prov.
The Book of Proverbs , commonly referred to simply as Proverbs, is a book of the Hebrew Bible.The original Hebrew title of the book of Proverbs is "Míshlê Shlomoh" . When translated into Greek and Latin, the title took on different forms. In the Greek Septuagint the title became "paroimai paroimiae"...
The Book of Psalms , commonly referred to simply as Psalms, is a book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible...
The Book of Leviticus is the third book of the Hebrew Bible, and the third of five books of the Torah ....
19:11; Prov. 14:5; Prov. 30:6; Zeph.
The superscription of the Book of Zephaniah attributes its authorship to “Zephaniah son of Cushi son of Gedaliah son of Amariah son of Hezekiah, in the days of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah” . All that is known of Zephaniah comes from the text. The superscription of the book is lengthier than...
The Book of Isaiah is the first of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, preceding the books of Ezekiel, Jeremiah and the Book of the Twelve...
The Book of Daniel is a book in the Hebrew Bible. The book tells of how Daniel, and his Judean companions, were inducted into Babylon during Jewish exile, and how their positions elevated in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. The court tales span events that occur during the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar,...
11:27), most famously, in the Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...
: "Thou shalt not bear false witness" (Ex. ; Deut.
The Book of Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible, and of the Jewish Torah/Pentateuch...
); Ex. 23:1; Matt. 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20 a specific reference to perjury.
Other passages feature exchanges where lying seems to be conditionally promoted. (However some Christians would argue that lying is never promoted, but that even those who are righteous in God's eyes sin sometimes.) Old Testament accounts of lying include:
- Rahab lied to the king of Jericho about hiding the Hebrew spies (Josh.
The Book of Joshua is the sixth book in the Hebrew Bible and of the Old Testament. Its 24 chapters tell of the entry of the Israelites into Canaan, their conquest and division of the land under the leadership of Joshua, and of serving God in the land....
2:4–5) and was not killed with those who were disobedient because of her faith (Heb. 11:31).
- Delilah repeatedly accused Samson of lying to her (Judg.
The Book of Judges is the seventh book of the Hebrew bible and the Christian Old Testament. Its title describes its contents: it contains the history of Biblical judges, divinely inspired prophets whose direct knowledge of Yahweh allows them to act as decision-makers for the Israelites, as...
16:10, 13) as she interrogated him about the source of his strength.
- Abraham instructed his wife, Sarah, to lie to the Egyptians and say that she is his sister (Gen. 12:10), which led to the Lord punishing the Egyptians (Gen. 12:17–19). However, it can be argued that this was not actually a lie as she was, in fact, his half-sister (During the time of Abraham, it was not unheard of for one to marry their half-brother or half-sister). Regardless, Sarah was knowingly omitting the fact that she was Abraham's wife—a lie of omission.
In the New Testament, Jesus refers to the Devil
The Devil is believed in many religions and cultures to be a powerful, supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind. The nature of the role varies greatly...
as the father of lies (John 8:44) and Paul commands Christians "Do not lie to one another" (Col. 3:9; cf. Lev. 19:11). St. John the Revelator
John of Patmos is the name given, in the Book of Revelation, as the author of the apocalyptic text that is traditionally cannonized in the New Testament...
reports that God said "... all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Rev.
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...
In the Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...
says that God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...
), knows the secrets of all peoples' hearts and when somebody lies. Therefore according to the Qur'an, God cannot be fooled by lies and those who lie not only destroy their souls but the lie will be destroyed by the truth. Liars will be called to account on the Day of Judgment
The Last Judgment, Final Judgment, Day of Judgment, Judgment Day, or The Day of the Lord in Christian theology, is the final and eternal judgment by God of every nation. The concept is found in all the Canonical gospels, particularly the Gospel of Matthew. It will purportedly take place after the...
and God will not guide them. In at least three different places, ; and , the Qur'an indicates that liars will suffer.
The following are particularly noted for punishment: idolaters (liars against God), liars who disunite believers, those who lie that all good things are for themselves, hypocrites, those who lie against God when invited to Islam
Islam . The most common are and . : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...
or who treat God's signs as falsehoods.
Lying is forbidden by the fourth of the Five Precepts, the fundamental ethical training rules for all Buddhists. "For a liar who has violated the one law (of truthfulness) who holds in scorn the hereafter, there is no evil that he cannot do."
, one of the sections within the Eddaic poem
The Poetic Edda is a collection of Old Norse poems primarily preserved in the Icelandic mediaeval manuscript Codex Regius. Along with Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda, the Poetic Edda is the most important extant source on Norse mythology and Germanic heroic legends, and from the early 19th century...
Hávamál is presented as a single poem in the Poetic Edda, a collection of Old Norse poems from the Viking age. The poem, itself a combination of different poems, is largely gnomic, presenting advice for living, proper conduct and wisdom....
Odin is a major god in Norse mythology and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon "Wōden" and the Old High German "Wotan", the name is descended from Proto-Germanic "*Wodanaz" or "*Wōđanaz"....
states that it is advisable, when dealing with "a false foe who lies," to tell lies oneself.
Once a lie has been told there can be two alternative consequences: it may be discovered or remain undiscovered.
Under some circumstances, discovery of a lie may discredit other statements by the same speaker and can lead to social or legal sanctions against the speaker, such as ostracizing or conviction for perjury. When a lie is discovered, the state of mind and behavior of the lie teller (liar) is no longer predictable.
The discoverer of a lie may also be convinced or coerced to collaborate with the liar, becoming part of a conspiracy
A civil conspiracy or collusion is an agreement between two or more parties to deprive a third party of legal rights or deceive a third party to obtain an illegal objective....
. They may actively propagate the lie to other parties, actively prevent the lie's discovery by other parties, or simply omit publicizing the lie (a secondary lie of omission).
In other species
The capacity to lie has also been claimed to be possessed by non-humans in language studies with great apes
The Hominidae or include them .), as the term is used here, form a taxonomic family, including four extant genera: chimpanzees , gorillas , humans , and orangutans ....
. Even Koko, the gorilla made famous for learning American Sign Language has been caught red-handed. After tearing a steel sink from the wall in the middle of a tantrum, she signed to her handlers that a cat did it, while she pointed to her kitten. It is unclear if this was a joke or a genuine attempt at blaming her tiny pet. Deceptive body language, such as feints that mislead as to the intended direction of attack or flight, is observed in many species including wolves. A mother bird deceives when it pretends to have a broken wing to divert the attention of a perceived predator—including unwitting humans—from the eggs in its nest to itself, most notably the killdeer
The Killdeer is a medium-sized plover.Adults have a brown back and wings, a white belly, and a white breast with two black bands. The rump is tawny orange. The face and cap are brown with a white forehead. They have an orange-red eyering...
Within any scenario where dualistic (e.g., yes/no, black/white) answers are always given, a person who we know is consistently lying would paradoxically be a source of truth. There are many such paradox
Similar to Circular reasoning, A paradox is a seemingly true statement or group of statements that lead to a contradiction or a situation which seems to defy logic or intuition...
es, the most famous being known as the liar paradox
In philosophy and logic, the liar paradox or liar's paradox , is the statement "this sentence is false"...
, commonly expressed as "This sentence is a lie," or "This sentence is false." The so-called Epimenides paradox
The Epimenides paradox is a problem in logic. It is named after the Cretan philosopher Epimenides of Knossos , There is no single statement of the problem; a typical variation is given in the book Gödel, Escher, Bach, by Douglas Hofstadter:...
("All Cretans are liars," as stated by Epimenides the Cretan
Epimenides of Knossos was a semi-mythical 6th century BC Greek seer and philosopher-poet. While tending his father's sheep, he is said to have fallen asleep for fifty-seven years in a Cretan cave sacred to Zeus, after which he reportedly awoke with the gift of prophecy...
) is a forerunner of this, though its status as a paradox is disputed. A class of related logic puzzles are known as knights and knaves
Knights and Knaves is a type of logic puzzle devised by Raymond Smullyan.On a fictional island, all inhabitants are either knights, who always tell the truth, or knaves, who always lie. The puzzles involve a visitor to the island who meets small groups of inhabitants...
, in which the goal is to determine who of a group of people is lying and who is telling the truth.
Some people may be better "lie detectors" than others, better able to distinguish a lie by facial expression, cadence of speech, certain movements, and other methods. According to David J. Lieberman, PhD, in Never Be Lied to Again: How to Get the Truth in Five Minutes or Less in Any Conversation or Situation
, these methods can be learned. Some methods of questioning may be more likely to elicit the truth, for instance: "When was the last time you smoked marijuana?" (a leading question
In common law systems that rely on testimony by witnesses, a leading question or suggestive interrogation is a question that suggests the answer or contains the information the examiner is looking for. For example, this question is leading:...
) is more likely to get a truthful answer than "Do you smoke pot?" Asking the question most likely to get the information you want is a skill and can be learned. Avoiding vague questioning will help avoid lies of omission or vagueness.
The question of whether lies can reliably be detected through nonverbal
Nonverbal communication is usually understood as the process of communication through sending and receiving wordless messages. Messages can be communicated through gestures and touch , by body language or posture, by facial expression and eye contact...
means is a subject of some controversy.
- Polygraph "lie detector
"Lie Detector" is a CD single by The Reverend Horton Heat. It was released in October 1998 on Sub Pop.-Personnel:*Jim "Reverend Horton" Heath - lead vocals, guitar*Jimbo Wallace - upright bass, vocals*Scott Churilla - drums, vocals...
" machines measure the physiological stress
Stress is a term in psychology and biology, borrowed from physics and engineering and first used in the biological context in the 1930s, which has in more recent decades become commonly used in popular parlance...
a subject endures in a number of measures while he/she gives statements or answers questions. Spikes in stress are purported to indicate lying. The accuracy of this method is widely disputed, and in several well-known cases it was proven to have been deceived. Nonetheless, it remains in use in many areas, primarily as a method for eliciting confessions or employment screening. Polygraph results are not admissible as court evidence and are generally perceived to be pseudoscience
Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status...
- Various truth drug
A truth drug or truth serum is a psychoactive medication used to obtain information from subjects who are unable or unwilling to provide it otherwise. The unethical use of truth drugs is classified as a form of torture according to international law. However, they are properly and productively...
s have been proposed and used anecdotally, though none are considered very reliable. The CIA attempted to find a universal "truth serum" in the MK-ULTRA project, but it was an overall failure.
- A recent study found that lying takes longer than telling the truth, and thus the time to answer a question may be used as a method of lie detection. However, it has also been shown that instant-answers can be proof of a prepared lie. The only compromise is to try to surprise the victim and find a midway answer, not too quick, nor too long.
Dr. Paul Ekman
Paul Ekman is a psychologist who has been a pioneer in the study of emotions and their relation to facial expressions. He has been considered one of the 100 most eminent psychologists of the twentieth century...
and Dr. Maureen O'Sullivan spent several decades studying people's ability to spot deception in a study called the Wizards Project. They studied police officers, psychologists, judges, lawyers, the CIA, FBI and the Secret Service. After studying nearly 20,000 people, they identified just over 50 people who can spot deception with great accuracy. They call these people "Truth Wizards."
Dr. Freitas-Magalhaes developed the ForensicPsy and the Psy7Faces to read lies by facial expressions.
- The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is a 1988 British adventure comedy film directed by Terry Gilliam, starring John Neville, Sarah Polley, Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver Reed, Uma Thurman, and Robin Williams.-Plot:...
tell the story about an 18th-century baron who tells outrageous, unbelievable stories, which he claims are all true.
- The Invention of Lying
The Invention of Lying is a 2009 fantasy romantic comedy film that is written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson. This film is the directorial debut of Gervais. The film stars Ricky Gervais as the first human with the ability to lie...
is a 2009 movie depicting the fictitious invention of the first lie, starring Ricky Gervais
Ricky Dene Gervais is an English comedian, actor, director, radio presenter, producer, musician, and writer.Gervais achieved mainstream fame with his television series The Office and the subsequent series Extras, both of which he co-wrote and co-directed with friend and frequent collaborator...
, Jennifer Garner
Jennifer Anne Affleck , better known as Jennifer Garner, is an American actress and film producer. Garner gained recognition on television for her performance as CIA agent Sydney Bristow in the thriller drama series Alias, which aired on ABC for five seasons from 2001 to 2006...
, Rob Lowe
Robert Hepler "Rob" Lowe is an American actor. Lowe came to prominence after appearing in films such as The Outsiders, Oxford Blues, About Last Night..., St. Elmo's Fire, and Wayne's World. On television, Lowe is known for his role as Sam Seaborn on The West Wing and his role as Senator Robert...
, and Tina Fey
Elizabeth Stamatina "Tina" Fey is an American actress, comedian, writer and producer, known for her work on the NBC sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live , the NBC comedy series 30 Rock, and films such as Mean Girls and Baby Mama .Fey first broke into comedy as a featured player in the...
- A famous anecdote by Parson Weems
Mason Locke Weems , generally known as Parson Weems, was an American book agent and author. He is best known as the source of some of the apocryphal stories about George Washington...
claims that George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...
once cut a tree over when he was a small child. His father asked him who cut the tree and Washington confessed his crime with the words: "I'm sorry, father, I cannot tell a lie." The anecdote has been proven to be a completely fictional story.
- Carlo Collodi
Carlo Lorenzini , better known by the pen name Carlo Collodi, was an Italian children's writer known for the world-renowned fairy tale novel, The Adventures of Pinocchio.-Biography:...
The Adventures of Pinocchio is a novel for children by Italian author Carlo Collodi, written in Florence. The first half was originally a serial between 1881 and 1883, and then later completed as a book for children in February 1883. It is about the mischievous adventures of Pinocchio , an...
was a wooden puppet often led into trouble by his propensity to lie. His nose grew with every lie; hence, long noses have become a caricature
A caricature is a portrait that exaggerates or distorts the essence of a person or thing to create an easily identifiable visual likeness. In literature, a caricature is a description of a person using exaggeration of some characteristics and oversimplification of others.Caricatures can be...
- The Boy Who Cried Wolf
The Boy Who Cried Wolf, is one of Aesop's Fables, numbered 210 in the Perry Index. From it is derived the English idiom 'to cry wolf', meaning to give a false alarm.-The fable and its history:...
, a fable
A fable is a succinct fictional story, in prose or verse, that features animals, mythical creatures, plants, inanimate objects or forces of nature which are anthropomorphized , and that illustrates a moral lesson , which may at the end be expressed explicitly in a pithy maxim.A fable differs from...
attributed to Aesop
Aesop was a Greek writer credited with a number of popular fables. Older spellings of his name have included Esop and Isope. Although his existence remains uncertain and no writings by him survive, numerous tales credited to him were gathered across the centuries and in many languages in a...
about a boy who continually lies a wolf is coming. When a wolf does appear nobody believes him anymore.
- In the film Liar Liar
Liar Liar is a 1997 American comedy film written by Paul Guay and Stephen Mazur, directed by Tom Shadyac and starring Jim Carrey. Carrey was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical...
, the lawyer Fletcher Reede (Jim Carrey
James Eugene "Jim" Carrey is a Canadian-American actor and comedian. He has received two Golden Globe Awards and has also been nominated on four occasions. Carrey began comedy in 1979, performing at Yuk Yuk's in Toronto, Ontario...
) cannot lie for 24 hours, due to a wish of his son that magically came true.
- Larry-Boy! And the Fib from Outer Space! was mostly about lying and telling the truth.
- In the 1985 Max Headroom
Max Headroom may refer to:* Max Headroom , a fictional artificial intelligence, played by Matt Frewer* The Max Headroom Show, a 1985 music video TV show* Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future, a 1985 British cyberpunk television film...
, the title character comments that one can always tell when a politician lies because "their lips move." The joke has been widely repeated and rephrased.
- In the film Big Fat Liar
Big Fat Liar is a 2002 American teen comedy film directed by Shawn Levy, written and produced by Dan Schneider and Brian Robbins, and starring Frankie Muniz, Paul Giamatti, and Amanda Bynes...
, the story producer Marty Wolf (a notorious and proud liar himself) steals from student Jason Shepard, tells of a character whose lies become out of control to the point where each lie he tells causes him to grow in size.
- Lie to Me
Lie to Me is a 2009-2011 American television series.Lie to Me may also refer to:* Lie to Me , a South Korean drama series* "Lie to Me" , an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...
, a TV series based on behavior analysts who read lies through facial expressions and body language. The protagonists, Dr. Cal Lightman and Dr. Gillian Foster are based on the above-mentioned Dr. Paul Ekman and Dr. Maureen O'Sullivan.
- The Sky Is Falling, similar to The Boy Who Cried Wolf, is the story of Chicken Little, an alarmist little chicken who claims that the sky is falling. This differs from The Boy Who Cried Wolf in that Chicken Little's fabrication is the result of a misinterpretation of the facts which he believes to be true.
- Paranoia Agent
is a Japanese anime television series created by director Satoshi Kon and produced by Madhouse about a social phenomenon in Musashino, Tokyo caused by a juvenile serial assailant named Lil' Slugger...
, created by Satoshi Kon, centers around the character, Lil Slugger, who is a living manifestation of main character Tsukiko Sagi's lie about her puppy's death.
Sir Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet was a Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet, popular throughout much of the world during his time....
's famous couplet "Oh, what a tangled web we weave / When first we practice to deceive!" describes the often difficult procedure of covering up a lie so that it is not detected in the future.
In Human, All Too Human
Human, All Too Human , subtitled A Book for Free Spirits , is a book by 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, originally published in 1878...
, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...
suggested that those who refrain from lying may do so only because of the difficulty involved in maintaining the lie. This is consistent with his general philosophy that divides (or ranks) people according to strength and ability; thus, some people tell the truth only out of weakness.
- Adler, J.E. "Lying, deceiving, or falsely implicating," Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 94 (1997), 435–52.
- Aquinas, T., St. "Question 110: Lying," in Summa Theologiae (II.II), Vol. 41, Virtues of Justice in the Human Community (London, 1972).
- Augustine, St. "On Lying" and "Against Lying," in R.J. Deferrari, ed., Treatises on Various Subjects (New York, 1952).
- Bok, S. Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life, 2d ed. (New York, 1989).
- Davids, P.H.; Bruce, F.F.; Brauch, M.T. & W.C. Kaiser, Hard Sayings of the Bible (InterVarsity Press, 1996).
- Flyvbjerg, B. "Design by Deception". Harvard Design Magazine
The Harvard Design Magazine is a biannual publication of the Harvard Graduate School of Design that has been published since 1997....
, no. 22, Spring/Summer 2005, 50–9.
- Frankfurt, H.G. "The Faintest Passion," in Necessity, Volition and Love (Cambridge, MA: CUP, 1999).
- Frankfurt, Harry, On Bullshit (Princeton University Press
-Further reading:* "". Artforum International, 2005.-External links:* * * * *...
- Kant, I. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, The Metaphysics of Morals and "On a supposed right to lie from philanthropy," in Immanuel Kant, Practical Philosophy, eds. Mary Gregor and Allen W. Wood (Cambridge: CUP, 1986).
- Lakoff, George, Don't Think of an Elephant, (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2004).
- Mahon, J.E. (2003). "Kant on Lies, Candour and Reticence," Kantian Review, Vol. 7, 101–33.
- Mahon, J.E. (2008). "The Definition of Lying and Deception," Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a freely-accessible online encyclopedia of philosophy maintained by Stanford University. Each entry is written and maintained by an expert in the field, including professors from over 65 academic institutions worldwide...
- Mahon, J. E., "Lying," Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd ed., Vol. 5 (Farmington Hills, Mich.: Macmillan Reference, 2006), pp. 618–9.
- Mahon, J.E. "Kant and the Perfect Duty to Others Not to Lie," British Journal for the History of Philosophy, Vol. 14, No. 4 (2006), 653–85.
- Mahon, J.E. "Kant and Maria von Herbert: Reticence vs. Deception," Philosophy, Vol. 81, No. 3 (2006), 417–44.
- Mannison, D.S. "Lying and Lies," Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 47 (1969), 132–44.
- O'Neill, Barry. (2003). "A Formal System for Understanding Lies and Deceit." Revision of a talk for the Jerusalem Conference on Biblical Economics, June 2000.
- Siegler, F.A. "Lying," American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 3 (1966), 128–36.
- Margaret Talbot (2007). Duped. Can brain scans uncover lies?. The New Yorker, July 2, 2007.