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The Importance of Lying

Updated on December 3, 2009

It's a sad truth that every human adult aside from the chronically insane learns as they grow up that lying is essential to getting along in society. In fact, lying is so important that people who are unable to lie are simply unable to get along at all.

We lie on a daily basis, oftentimes without even opening our mouths. We smile at people we don't really like, leading them to think that we feel friendly towards them even though we'd rather run our own fingers through a pencil sharpener than spend an hour with them.

The question is this, why do we teach children not to lie? After all, childhood is the training ground in which we practice all our adult lying techniques. Even good children lie several times a day, in fact, one could say that it is the good children who lie the most successfully. “He did it!” Works well if you point towards the kid already known as a trouble maker, but doesn't quite work as well if you point towards an inanimate object. The kid in the first instance gains a reputation as being “good”, the kid in the second gains a reputation of being a “liar.”

Why not just admit to kids that lying is fine as long as you don't get caught? Why not really prepare them for the adult world and teach them that the best liars win the biggest? Some of the richest people in the world are also the biggest liars.

I hate lying. I hate having to lie because in my mind it infers some kind of fear of the person I'm lying to, and who wants to think that they are afraid? But I too, am a liar. So are you. I doubt a single person who reads this has gone a month this year without telling some form of lie to someone. Whether you've called it a lie by omission, a white lie, a half truth or some other candy coated euphemism, lying is essential to human society.

But so too, it would seem, is lying about lying.

It's a great irony of the human condition that we must protest to tell the truth even whilst we lie our butts off. Now most of us will tell the truth when we can because we like to think of ourselves as truthful people. We've actually been conditioned to value truthfulness even though being truthful is actually maladaptive and people who always tell the truth will be the most unpopular people around.

If we were to be truthful, we would simply admit that we were all liars. The only question then would be the only question that ever really matters, and that is, to what degree are we liars? And more importantly for our survival and well being, to what degree are those around us lying?

The most useful skill we can teach ourselves and our children isn't not to lie, it's to detect lies in other people.


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    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 

      9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      There are all kinds of lies, small and large, well motivated and deceitful, bald-faced lies and those small print lies of the banksters. "Seldom affirm. Never deny. Always distinguish." St. Thomas Aquinas

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      great point hope.

      i have to admit i dont lie as oftern as i should if some one askes me if they look good insomthing i tell the truth and i have to admit now and then they donot like it.

      but when should we lie i like to think that if some one askes a question they want the truth i know i do i belive it would be much better if we all told the truth all the time then we would know if some one liked us or not, unlike the way it is some one smiles to your face and then wants to stab you in the back as soon as you turn around.

    • jm2fly profile image


      9 years ago from United States of America

      That's an interesting way to look at lying. In a way you have a very valid point. If you were really honest 100% of the time you would tell your friend that "those pants really do make your butt look big"!


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