Friday, August 04, 2006

Wambulance Ethics Corner: The 3 Ways to Lie

First of all, let me state for the record that lying should rarely be the preferred course of action. There are all kinds of drawbacks and pitfalls that await the liar. Your could get caught in a lie, and damage the hard-earned trust that is the foundation of most significant inter-personal relationships. But most importantly, you should avoid lying for these reasons:

  • Lying isn't truthful.
  • Lying isn't honest.
  • Lying requires a very long and accurate memory.
  • Do you like being lied to?
  • Me neither.

At some point, however, the need to lie will arise. Perhaps you will want to spare the feelings of a friend or loved one, or deflect an uncomfortable, albeit innocent, question from a child. But more than likely, you will lie to save your own miserable hide. You will need to know the 3 Ways to Lie.

1. The Basic Falsehood
This is a lie that is utterly devoid of any truth. The key here is to keep it simple. Don't elaborate at all, because its the details that will trip you up. Can you remember all the particulars of any conversation you have had longer than a month ago? What makes you think you will remember any of that creative fiction you just conjured on the fly to cover your ass? Also, the person you lied to will always remember at least one detail you won't, and nail you with it later. The Basic Falsehood perfectly illustrates the point that, if you have a lousy memory, you are better off not lying at all.

2. Tell The Truth, But Leave Out The Bad Parts
If the lie is a minor part of a larger narrative, then it is best to be completely honest in all details, but just don't mention the parts that will get you in trouble. The advantage here is that you lessen the burden on your already over-taxed memory (especially if you lie a lot), and any detail that is later brought up will be one of the true parts, which are much easier to remember. The key here is that your lie of omission must be about a small detail in order to work. If you are out until 2:00 AM and you tell your spouse that you just went to the corner store for some cigarettes, the timeline will not fit, and your lie will fail. If your spouse thinks you quit smoking, then tell him/her what you were really doing until 2:00 AM but leave out the part about getting the cigarettes. If you were being naughty until 2:00 AM then refer back to The Basic Falsehood or move on to the final Way To Lie.

3. Tell The Truth, But Act Like You Are Lying.
This is the method of last resort. Here is the situation: You have been caught in a lie. They know you did something. Your guilt is evident, but the particulars are still uncertain. You can't escape, but you can mitigate the situation in this way: tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Tell the truth in as much minute detail as you can muster, and omit nothing. They will eventually become convinced that you are lying. They are already predisposed to disbelieving you anyway, so its easy to believe that you are lying again.
The down side is that you will lose some or all of the other party's trust, but that has already been damaged at this point anyway. The upside is, by employing this method of lying you might be able to keep a bad situation from turning into a complete disaster.

To better illustrate the 3rd Way To Lie, here is a short tale:
A married businessman spends the afternoon in a hotel room with his mistress. When he finally looks at his watch, he sees that it is very late and he knows that his wife will be furious. He borrows some of his girlfriend's blue eyeshadow and smears a little on his shirt sleeves and under his fingernails, dusts talcum powder on his hands and pants, then goes home. His wife angrily demands, "Where the hell have you been all this time?" He responds, "Honey, I have been in a hotel room with another woman making wild monkey-love all afternoon." She grabs his wrist, points to the blue smudges and powder residue, and replies, "Bullshit! You've been playing pool with the boys again!"

I hope that this helps any of you in the Wambulance Nation who find that, in spite of your best intentions and contrary to your upstanding personal nature, you must tell a lie.

Not that I ever would, of course.

My memory is shot to hell...


blogagog said...

Hah! Great post! "Lying requires a very long and accurate memory." That's why I don't attempt it much anymore :)

defiant_infidel said...

I think you're both lying...