- Politics and Social Issues
A world without lies?
What is a lie?
- A false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.
- Something intended or serving to convey a false impression; imposture.
- An inaccurate or false statement
Webster.com: A statement that deviates from or perverts the truth.
The telling of lies
We all tell lies. And there are a wide variety of them, too. Little white lies, monumental fabrications, punctual insincerities, tall stories, I don't care about you so why should I tell you what I really think untruths, plain get me out of trouble lies, purposeful inaccuracies ... The many varieties of outright lies, half truths and little untruths make the world go round more than the truths we all avoid uttering at some point in our lives.
I'm not above the telling of lies. My particular portfolio is mostly composed on not-said-truths, I really can't remember the last time I found the need to be explicitly and purposefully insincere, but every now and then I do encounter the need to be not fully sincere. The end results may be the same, my counterpart continues to be ignorant of "what I really think", but it's a bit different to make up a lie and not to say all truth.
How is it different, you're wondering. Maybe a simple example can help. So here we have this not so slim friend (that's a half truth, let's be sincere and call her fat) that takes me shopping so that I help her buy a dress for a party. Off she comes the fitting room in a short and tight flashy red dress.
Here's me making up a lie: This dress and this color are really nice on you!
And here's me not saying all truth: This dress and this color are nice. What I'm not saying: BUT NOT ON YOU!
The reasons to withhold all truth range from cowardice to sensitivity to plain avoidance of committing sincericide. Yes, there is such a thing as "sincericide". Both the lies and the truths we tell can be told in a way which doesn't dig a hole for ourselves.
Anyhow, all this to ask the following question: What if we were genetically programmed NOT to be able to lie, ever, in any circumstance? Then we'd be dogs. So let me formulate the question in a different manner: What if we were born with a red light on top of our heads that turned on every time were weren't being totally sincere?
To an extent, we already come equipped with a sort of primitive mechanism to point others in the direction of insincerity: blushing. However, blushing serves so many purposes besides pointing the way to a lie told, and it's so easy to manipulate at will that it can't really be used to identify lies.
So, again, I'll try to formulate the question differently: Can you imagine a world without lies of any variety? Frankly, I can't.
World without lies
I try to imagine a world where we were all born with a traffic light on top of our head:
Green means I'm telling what I absolutely and sincerely believe to be the truth. I could be telling an inaccuracy, but if the light turns green it means that I believe this inaccuracy to be the truth.
Yellow means I'm not completely making it up, but I'm not being totally sincere with what I think, either.
Red, finally, means I'm outright lying, that is, speaking the opposite of what I think is the truth, or fabricating a truth for your ears only.
Can you imagine what the world would be like if we walked down the street with this cute traffic light on top of our heads? I mean, besides being a hilarious image? I just can't. It would mean that the human race would have to reinvent itself, start from scratch, learn to live in a society where little white lies or monumental dishonesties wouldn't have a place, and I just can't think how it would all work out in this day and age.
Some implications of living in a world without lies, or rather, without undetected lies:
1. Privacy and protection of self-image and thoughts would be gone or seriously undermined.
2. At the same time, we wouldn't be able to get away with lying through our teeth. Maybe no one would be the wiser with what we think is the truth, but everyone would be able to see that we're just not saying it.
3. Along the lines of the previous implication, we would have to own up to what we think, or not, but everyone would know we aren't owning up, because they would have a yellow or red light all shiny pointing the way to insincerity.
4. Avoidance of issues wouldn't happen or it wouldn't be such a frequent and common occurrence, the visual indicator on top of our heads would push us to having to deal with true opinions, true feelings.
I could continue with implications of living in a world of detectable lies, but I think I made my point of just how unthinkable it sounds that all of a sudden lies don't have a place in the world.
Nevertheless, I still haven't said what I find most difficult to conceive about this potential world without lies: That most people would rather see a red light of top of everyone's head, including their own, because that would mean implications 1, 2, 3, 4 and 20 wouldn't have any meaning, effect or consequence, and we'd be back to square 1, a world with lies, with the odd green light here and there that would make us all go OHHH and AHHH, fancy that, someone being sincere.
It's not uncommon that the green light of hidden truths threatens our stability and forces us to face up to our fears, so in my opinion we'd rather go out on the street with a shinny red light on top of our heads to protect our inner feelings, that is, we'd rather live in a world of lies.
Does it sound like science fiction?