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Mark Laing

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Why are we so offended when someone lies to us?

If it is true that all people lie, then we have all had the experience of lying to someone and being lied to by someone. Sometimes lying could be necessary for the sake of maintaining safety or civility. Yet if we are comfortable in lying then why are we so offended when someone lies to us?

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  • Sep 27 2013: I think these are great observations. I wonder though, because of the way you phrased this, that you are creating a hierarchy of lying. In other words lying doesn't matter about what someone lied about so much as who lied to you. And then I have to ask, do you think that really matters?
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      Sep 27 2013: Are you talking to me?

      Could you come back to my comment and hit the RED REPLY button to the right of my name so that I know for sure.

      Thanks, Mary.
      • Sep 27 2013: Hi Mary, yes I was replying to you. I think these are great observations. I wonder though, because of the way you phrased this, that you are creating a hierarchy of lying. In other words lying doesn't matter about what someone lied about so much as who lied to you. And then I have to ask, do you think that really matters?
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          Sep 27 2013: Thanks for replying to me directly.

          You know Mark, I never thought about it in a hierarchy sort of way.

          I think that the levels are more related to intimacy issues.

          Government officials do not know each and every citizen. They are just doing the best they can with their responsibilities. And many times they succumb to corruptive influences.....so, they lie.

          Co-workers might have hidden agendas to scale the ladder of the so called 'success' that everybody speaks. They are looking out for Numero Uno.....themselves.

          But with family members......well, we have to be associating with them our entire life.
          They are the first ones to respond in a case of emergency, coming to our aid and nurturing us back to health. They are usually the first ones we see in the morning, and the last ones we talk to at night. There should be honesty at all times within the family circle. But we all know that is not the case.

          A lie is a lie...........no matter who utters it.
          But in this world we live in, I think we have all become accustomed to the fact people do lie, and many of us are not at all surprised when someone does lie.........

          As a Christian Mark, I have read in scripture that the entire world lies under the power of the wicked one.......and it calls him the father of the lie. So it really does not surprise me when people lie. I have learned that I am only able to control my actions and words.........I am not in control of other's actions and words. And "when people show me who they are, I need to believe them" (as Maya Angelou so aptly said in an interview, to borrow her words)

          Sooner or later, all liars will have to deal with the consequences of their untruths.

          Do you think it matters who is doing the lying?
          Are you offended more depending on who lied to you?
          What prompted you to ask the question in your OP?

          I hope you don't mind me asking you questions Mark. :D
      • Sep 27 2013: I think what prompted me ta ask the question was as I said, realizing not only in your comments but in others, that there was some kind of hierarchy being discussed and I found that interesting and yet I wasn't sure what to think of that. So, yep, I picked on your comment so to speak (I hope you don't mind. And no I am not trying to be nasty. I think the strength of Ted Talks is that you can have these kinds of conversations and explorations.) to start trying to understand this thinking more clearly.

        I must admit that in my job, people lie to me all the time. And for the most part it doesn't bother me other than I am confused as to why they need to lie sometimes. Other times I am fully aware of their need to lie. I am a therapist who sees couples and also deals with sexual addictions so I hear lots of lying. Sometimes people are not telling the truth but believe they are. As I sometimes say. both a truth and a lie both run on the same fuel; belief. And I can believe a lie as easy as I can believe a truth. It is just that one is deceiving. We can deceive others and/or deceive ourselves.

        I am not offended by people lying to me. That said, if I find someone lies to me frequently it will affect my ability to believe or trust what they say.

        As a Christian as well I know that Jesus said to love your friends and family but to love your enemies as well. In my opinion the number one enemy (besides Satan obviously) we all have is ourselves. That being said we are our own worst enemy because of our failure to stop lying to ourselves which prevents us to live a life free of strife. Let me correct myself then, perhaps the only time I am offended is when I realize I have lied to myself. Ouch!
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          Sep 27 2013: Let me first say that I value the interchanges I have on TED.
          I in no way felt that you were being nasty......as a matter of fact I found your questions to be wonderful, and I am glad you encouraged me to provide further thoughts. Although my brain cells on Friday are a bit tired......LOL

          Back in December of 2011 I hosted a conversation on honesty, here is the link:

          http://www.ted.com/conversations/7663/is_it_practical_to_be_honest.html

          You might enjoy reading through it's brief contributions.

          As I was reading your last entry, a quote by the late Richard Feynman jumped out at me:

          "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool."

          So, yes, Ouch! when a person who is aware of how easily it is to fool oneself realizes that he/she has been doing just that.....it does kind of hurt. An easy way to detect if you are lying to yourself is if you are constantly trying to justify your choices and actions. Would you agree with this?
      • Sep 28 2013: I'm not sure defensiveness is a definitive test of self-deception other than if you believe you are the only one who is right, I like the Feynman quote.I am currently reading James Hollis', "Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life." Hollis is a Jungian analyst and his book talks in great detail about our human complexes which is essentially psycho mumbo jumbo for self lying but it is a great read on helping one discover their self deception. Perhaps what concerns me most is that as a society we are becoming more and more numb to the call of morality and truth and getting lost further and further in a sea of narcissism. The fact that we expect our politicians to lie in and of itself is alarming and disheartening. So if they lie why can't we. Many philosophers have suggested that the state of current political morality is a mere reflection of the current societal zeitgeist. And now lets add the word "scary" to the previous descriptors.
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          Sep 28 2013: Thanks for your reply. I have heard of Jung, he is mentioned on TED now and again.
          Unfortunately I do not have much knowledge of his teachings.

          ""psycho mumbo jumbo".......I'm partial to the phrase pseudo babble myself.

          Perhaps your observation that we are becoming numb to the call of morality and truth and getting lost further and further in a sea of narcissism might be one of the reasons why there was not much participation in my conversation on honesty.

          But Mark, as a Christian, don't you think that this is a sign of the last days mentioned at Matthew chapter twenty four, and the second letter to Timothy chapter three verses one through five?

          How does your knowledge of scripture fit in with your work, if you do not mind me asking you?

          Oh, and let me come back and say that morality is discussed infinitum on TED......just stick the word morality on the search box over there on the left of the screen and you will see.

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