I am good at lying...and I hate lies

To be fair, I've not felt compelled to lie in a very long time.

(And there is a distinction of hiding info from people where it's none of their business and lying)

Back in 2001, I wrote a little something on lying and bluffing. Here is a key passage:

Back to frequency of lying — something many children do not understand,  though it seems many catch on by adulthood — if you lie a lot, no one will  believe anything that comes out of your mouth (if you're really slick,  you'll use this to your advantage by telling the truth, which you know  no one will believe).  If you lie too much, the power of your lies  diminishes.  However, if you never lie, you never get some of the benefits  of lying (such as avoidance of punishment, or impressing strangers).  How  to balance this?    
In real life, this is a sticky problem, because the payoffs don't  necessarily have a numerical value, and some people are more likely to  believe or disbelieve a lie, depending on what it costs them to be  skeptical (so a tired parent may believe a lie about cleaning your room,  but one who has got a neat streak may check the room right away).  

[Dammit, livejournal. Don't do this to me. I'm just quoting myself.]

Anyway, when I was a lot younger than I am now (I'm currently 45 years old), I had a lot of fun deceiving people for my own amusement. One type of entertainment was fairly innocuous: I used to argue for points of view I did not agree with. I don't do that now, but having that experience helps me understand people I do not agree with. I can still do it, but I don't have need of entertaining myself in this manner. 

Also, because, at my age, truth is a much higher value for me.

But not all of my deception was innocent. I outright lied in many cases, for my own ends. I was really good at it — this is one of the best indications that I'm not autistic, fwiw. I can understand how other people think, and I can use that knowledge to deceive people. 

My favorite way of lying didn't involve saying an outright untruth, but to just let people deceive themselves in how they would interpret whatever they saw or what I said.

I can still do that, if I want to. But I don't want to.

Long ago, I remember a post I had on livejournal where I talked about St. Augustine (of Hippo, mind you) and his attitude towards lies. He was very harsh, even against "white lies" (e.g. lies to prevent hurting other people's feelings) I can't find the post, bc livejournal search is shit, but here is the nut:

Me: If I ask you: "Do these jeans make my butt look big?" 

The smart husband will say "You look great!" no matter the truth of the matter. The "Does X makes me look fat?" question is NEVER intended to be answered truthfully.

Then the Judge horned in, and a few others, and I can't remember how it went. But the upshot is that the person who asks a question that cannot be answered truthfully without offending is the one at fault, not the person put in the place to answer (though, seriously, deflect the question. Say "I don't know fashion." There is no good way to answer the question.)

As I get older, I have seen how lies, even "white" ones, have been corrosive.

I have also seen many people who are awful at lying — and there are generally two reasons for this. The obvious one: people who don't understand how other people think, and thus cannot effectively deceive. The second reason: the people who care too much that their lie will be believed, and they cannot mask that anxiety.  

But for those of us good at lying... we've got to not do that. I didn't understand Augustine long ago, but as I get older, I see what he means.  

The lies incorporate themselves into relationships and poisons the situations. 

I don't feel like detailing the lowest form of lies, where those being lied to can detect the lies... and feel the contempt of the liar who assumes the lied-to will simply go along. (Yes, I'm talking about politics here, but not only politics)

I could say — if you're going to lie, at least don't tell an insulting lie. But no.

Just don't lie.

This is not the same as telling all truth that one knows.... but that's for another time. 


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