Lies and truth are perfectly evident in fairytales for kids and moralizing books only. In everyday life, even lie detectors may sometimes fail to discern lies.
Indeed, when a lie detector is applied to a person who is supposed to be a liar the device will register just his physiological reaction to the questions he is asked. However, the same reaction may appear as a result of a person’s high emotional response to the issues under discussion. In real life, truth and lies go even closer to each other.
The situation seems to be quite simple from the point of view of formal logic. Any statements can be either true or false, and no other variant. However, problems may occur as soon as one proceeds from theory to practice. Even having pronounced not a word of lies, a man can lie with his doings; a man can undeservedly be called a liar when he is unaware of some changes pertaining to the issue he speaks of, etc.
Deception is an intentional misinformation done either verbally or by action. They are more effective when come together. A man who ignores a corporate meeting may say that a dog bit him and he had to go to a hospital for medical aid. To confirm his statement the man can publicly show his bandaged arm. And it is difficult to find out whether the ill-fated dog ever existed or not. So, the thing invented by the man is not a lie but a fable.
There may be untruth, half-truth or insincerity and each is a disgusting variety of lies.
What is to happen to the society when one day it turns out there is no lie at all?
It is an open secret that peaceful coexistence with people never supposes absolute sincerity. Absolute sincerity is possible from the theoretical point of view but the norms of any society dictate that people must assume a certain social mask. History knows that there were societies popularizing unconditional sincerity where everyday lies were punishable. It is also known that such societies never existed for a long period of time.
To tell the truth, all fiction together with the theatre and the cinema are lies. This lie is even more thrilling when it is done more verisimilar and perfect. It is said that more grandiose lies are better believed.
Let us call a lie a fiction. The most impressive fiction is called the ‘classical literature’ and is popular for centuries.
There may be a white lie that is popular in medicine when diagnosing weak and hypochondriac patients. In the 19th century, Russian doctors told their suspicious patients not the popular name of their diseases but the Latin variant which sounded not really understandable for them. And also the placebo effect is absolute lies as well in fact.
The political experience proves that any attempt to exterminate lies in general or liquidate demagogy as a political instrument resulted in restriction of freedom of speech or could even entail dictatorship. In other words, a new institution gets formed to control not only truth or lies but absolutely all information flows. It is easier to control all information than do it selectively.
One can hardly reconcile himself to the fact that a lie is an organic part of his own self. Humanistic psychologists think that lying to oneself and other people, generating and experiencing emotions considered appropriate among the society takes us too much time. The time and efforts could be better devoted to self-actualization they say.
A lie is not the words we say merely; in fact lies control our doings. Sometimes we choose to keep friendly relations with people whose sympathies are advantageous for us notwithstanding the fact that these people are dull. Lies may make people follow a wrong course of life.
Humanistic psychologists guided by Abraham Maslow insist that people should throw away the mask imposed upon them by the present day society and better focus on self-actualization. They see self-actualization as the peak of emotional experience; opening of one’s own self and one’s own talents. When one reads Maslow one actually believes that a self-actualized man is a really happy man. And it is important that such a person needs no more lies in his life. But for many of us it is still not clear what the self-actualization ways are.
To get rid of the lies piled up on us we should first of all give up lying to ourselves and then demand sincerity from others.
Translated by Maria Gousseva