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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Thursday, July 20, 2006

To be honest...

I have lied a few times in my life. BUT, according to a recent Associated Press/Ipsos poll so have many of you.

The poll says that 1 in 4 adults thinks lying is sometimes justifiable. Four in 10 said it was OK to exaggerate sometimes to make a story better or for a parent to lie to a kid about the parent's past misbehavior. One-third thought it was OK to lie sometimes about your age or whether you're sick to get a day off of work.

I found it most interesting that the people most likely to OK a lie were 18 - 29-year-olds - 57% according to the poll. By comparison, "only" 4 in 10 folks 30 and over believe lying is OK.

It also said that college grads and people with higher incomes were less likely to think lying is justified.

There's more. Click the link above to read it.

But I want to know if you guys think lying is OK and under what circumstances.

I have to confess, in a room full of my guys, with beverages flowing freely, I'm certain - though I can't give you a specific example - that I've gussied up a story to make myself look more macho.

I know for a fact that every adult male on this planet lied in high school and/or college about sexual prowess and "alleged" encounters with young women. And I know that guys - at least younger dudes lie about their "endowments." I'm sure young women have lied about these types of issues too. But I can't prove it.

And I've lied to people to spare their feelings.

Who has not feigned bubonic plague to avoid a second date with someone? I know I'm not the only one. In fact, when it came - pre-marriage, of course - to avoiding romantic encounters w/people who were even less attractive than me I have lied like a rug and easily killed off a number of a number of relatives to make sure a certain date was "booked" and I wasn't available for dinner, movies, or hanky panky.

BTW, can anyone explain the origins of "Liar, liar, pants on fire?" I wanna know, 'cause I'm thinking if your pants are on fire, lying isn't your biggest problem. You need a doctor.

One more thing: as I write this entry from my couch, I have to say boss I really wasn't feeling well today. That's why I decided to work from home.


  • "And I've lied to people to spare their feelings."

    I'll cop to that one. That's my story...

    By Anonymous Freddie, at 7:57 PM  

  • Sometimes lying is what makes a story so good. I know at least one guy who peppers his stories with such outright lies that it's obvious- but the stories are SO entertaining you don't care.

    Otherwise? you lie to preserve a woman's reputation. I can't think of any other time.

    By Anonymous og, at 7:58 PM  

  • What's the distinction between embellishment/storytelling and lies? The target or the outcome or the reason?

    By Anonymous Kim, at 9:44 PM  

  • Tend to agree with above comments. Otherwise lying is OUT!

    As I tried to teach our children - if you habitually lie, and I know that you do, how am I, or anyone else, to believe you when you insist you're telling the truth?

    For that matter, liars require a much better memory - so that they can remember what they have told whom and when. Then they need cover stories for when the various 'whoms' compare notes!

    Those of us who have poor recall, & find remembering what actually happened etc hard enough, find it easier to tell the truth!

    Honesty is best in the long run, particularly if you want to be trusted, & if you don't want to have to worry (too much) about yr past catching up with you. That way if/when it does everyone else will remember you are normally a truthful individual & give you some credit - you hope!

    By Anonymous Bronchitikat, at 12:25 PM  

  • I read somewhere once that "the flexible nature of reality is every man's greatest excuse to lie". Whether I agree with that or not, I do know that lying appears to be a matter of degree. Bald face lies are much worse than little white ones; numerous lies may be outweighed by a few great big ones. As Chris Rock put it so eloquently--"Men lie the most, but women tell the biggest lies". I don't know if I believe that, but truthfulness is antithetical to the pursuit of happiness. No one really wants to hear the truth all the time. Pain detracts from happiness and well being. Truths can bring severe emotional pain, regardless of their veracity. So until we grow up culturally such that we are adult enough to handle open and wanton sex at any age, moderate and sometimes harmful substance use, and friends that reflect our thoughts as accurately as a mirror reflects our image, lies will be with us. We need lies to validate ourselves and our existence. Our society depends on it. For if we didn't believe we were God's special creatures and that there was a God, and all that, many people would not have "civilization" as we know it.

    So in the ephemeral words of my best childhood friend, let me leave you with this about the concept of lying that applies to every facet of the subject. Any oral transmission of information from one human to another may be fraught with misinterpretation. Therefore, as he so eloquently put it when I accused him of lying about being home when he wasn't, he said:

    "Man, it's not a lie--it's just not the truth."

    This logic is irrefutable and I am still confounded to this day.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 4:54 PM  

  • BD, that's funny logic your buddy had. Sort of like that line by the Peter Gibbons character in the movie Office Space - "It's not that I'm lazy. It's that I just don't care."

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 7:00 PM  

  • You know, we had a politician who was accused of lying about something a few years back. Yes, I know, but this was really major & the kind of thing where even politicians are expected to own up & tell something at least approximating to the truth.

    When found out & challenged he claimed that he hadn't actually lied. He'd merely been "economical with the truth."

    & they wonder why most people have little or no respect for politicians?

    By Anonymous Bronchitikat, at 10:02 AM  

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    By Blogger Jonh Neo, at 4:03 PM  

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