Some Thoughts About Lying

by Philip Greenspan

March 17, 2003



Why do so many throughout the world stagger like robots in their struggle to survive? Why do they accept the myths of the powerful minority? Isn't it tragic?

Perhaps they are right. Fighting the system may cause injury, death or imprisonment. But strong protests have achieved those freedoms and benefits that are now being eroded through inaction.

Mesmerized by the pap on their TV sets and willingly accepting the establishment's lies, they utterly fail to use their mental abilities to question and think. Those lies must be exposed; and to do that the people must think.

You may and probably will object to some or perhaps many of my assertions. Fine. My intention is not for agreement but to stimulate the thought processes.

Write your own article and submit it to Swans. Let's inundate and smother the established myths with a plethora of ideas and options.

The essay that follows are my thoughts on lying. This is a rich subject for exploration. Other articles on lying by business, media, and government will appear from time to time.


Communication and Lying

Isn't it amazing? Billions of babies all over the world within a couple of short years will be learning to speak the language of their environment and if they are exposed to numerous languages will learn to communicate in all of them. This ability will not be limited to the bright and intelligent. All, irrespective of their mental abilities or limitations, will learn to communicate in the languages of their surroundings. They will not only pick up vocabulary but will instinctively adopt the correct grammatical tools. Pronunciation, inflection and the adaptation of linguistic accents will also accompany that learning process. Amazing, n'est-ce pas?

Should a bright, intelligent foreign adult attempt to accomplish the same learning experience he will have extreme difficulty and will perhaps not be able to progress past a very limited beginner's level. The window of language learning opportunity exists for a limited period of time in the early years. Many intelligent individuals who move to foreign countries, even if they learn the new language, cannot overcome the accents of the old country.

Communication is as inherent as fingers, toes and any other part of the new-born body.

Isn't the propensity to lie an adjunct of that communication inheritance? Nature has endowed many animals with various deceptive devices to protect them from predators. To survive, it is necessary to deceive or, in simpler terms, to lie. It would seem that lying is just another hereditary survival talent.

Individual lies

When mother's little angel denies knowledge of the disappearance of his cookies, the telltale raspberry icing around his mouth and cookie crumbs on his shirt shock mother. Who could have taught Junior to be so naughty? He has never been exposed to any outside influences. The little darling is just responding to an inherent survival trait.

To highlight George Washington's superior character, elementary school children, already knowledgeable about pervasive lying, are exposed to the cherry tree fable.

Lying provides the means to accomplish results that would be unobtainable or extremely difficult if the truth were disclosed.

In everyday living lying is so pervasive that one does not even think about it. There are numerous situations that can be cited by everyone. Knowing that our boss has certain strong feelings, we outwardly support him although deep down we vehemently disagree with his decision. A dear friend has a fatal illness but does not know it. We frequently tell him he looks great and will soon be completely recovered. We exaggerate qualifications and experience on a job application. We deny our actual speed when the policeman pulls us over. We make up phony excuses for commitments we fail to keep. Rarely do we give any of these daily lies a second thought.

That so much communication is so readily accepted as true is remarkable since we know how extensive lying is.

Group lies

When individuals join others in groups -- social clubs, partnerships, political organizations, unions, charitable associations, business corporations, governments, etc. -- lying inclinations are melded by the group's leaders to promote and enhance the aspirations of the organization. Lies that the leaders utilize are often knowingly adopted by the members of the organization.

Just as an individual may lie to his closest relations, the organization may actually deceive and harm its members. The leaders determine the goals to be achieved and go to extremes to accomplish the desired results.

Unconscionable and damaging actions of supposedly reliable and ethical organizations are quite common. The deceit of large and powerful organizations often causes monumental and incurable harm.

Motivations for the lies in the following examples are quite obvious: MONEY.

Embezzlement of billions of dollars by top officers and directors of numerous highly-touted corporations, with the complicity of major accounting and brokerage firms, and financial institutions, left employees, lenders, and customers, amongst many, irreparably damaged.

Since the 1930s when the injurious effects of tobacco were uncovered officers and knowledgeable employees of that industry together with advertising and public relations agencies suppressed that knowledge to glamorize smoking and hook young new victims. Attorneys and expert witnesses were able for years and years to defeat case after case brought against the companies by fraudulently denying the existence of extremely incriminating evidence. The media, profiting from the industry's extensive advertising, never did an exposé of the industry.

Management at Ford was alerted to a dangerous design flaw in its new Pinto. Instead of correcting it for about ten dollars per car they marketed it as is. Why? Their estimate of the cost to the company of litigation and damage awards was less than the cost of correcting the problem.

Government lies

Careful and intelligent habits may minimize an individual's exposure to these dangers but some risks cannot be avoided. From birth, governmental authority exercises control that can only be eliminated by renunciation of citizenship and movement away from its territorial jurisdiction.

Governments have the most extensive powers of all groups. They confiscate wealth through taxation, fees, penalties and fines. They withhold freedom by imprisonment and conscription into military service. And they can extinguish life by criminal execution and military service in war.

Like other organizations governments lie to accomplish goals that can result in disaster for its citizens.

Their motivations are influenced by individuals and corporations that have made large contributions to political parties and government officials. Those donors receive valuable benefits far in excess of the payoffs. These may be in the form of favorable legislation, favorable tax treatment, government contracts, forbearance of criminal prosecutions, grants of franchises and monopolies, etc.

Municipal governments will consciously convict the innocent to prove their effectiveness in solving crimes. Prosecutors, police officers and even judicial officers railroad innocent defendants into long prison terms and even to their deaths as victims of capital punishment. Former Governor George Ryan of Illinois, who previously was a pharmacist and not in law enforcement, was so shocked that he commuted the sentences of all 167 death row prisoners.

Watergate, Iran-Contra and Iraqgate are just a few of the numerous government scandals that are replete with lies, corruption, duplicity, and the most despicable acts by the highest governmental officials completely in violation of their oaths of office.

The Vietnam War caused over fifty thousand American and millions of Vietnamese deaths. The Pentagon Papers, a well-documented top secret study of 47 volumes and over 4,000 pages, details the government fraud that created and maintained the war. The Nixon Administration was so distressed that the truth would be exposed that it attempted to suppress its publication.

For years the government stonewalled Vietnam veterans who suffered from the harmful effects of Agent Orange. Only after it was proven in court that the Pentagon was well aware of its injurious effects years before its use in the war did the Veterans Administration grant them disability payments.

Worldwide phenomenon

These examples occurred in the United States and were chosen because they are familiar to most readers of this essay, but people and organizations all over the world lie. Governments, rich or poor, democracies or dictatorships, friendly or antagonistic, all resort to the lie to further their leaders motivations, and whoa to the poor citizens who may needlessly suffer as a result.

Leaders of third world countries who have been clandestinely bought and paid for by foreign exploiters reduce their country to misery and poverty.

Current recognition

The lies of the Bush administration in its quest for war have become so patent that people all over the world turn out in the millions to protest. In many instances they are criticizing their own government for its acceptance of those lies.

Many individuals who protest must invest their own funds; they must devote a considerable amount of time; and they must travel long distances. Their commitments are deep and strong. They will not be deterred by the deceitful actions of proponents of war. And they definitely do not trust the U.S. to grant the beneficence of COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATISM to the poor Iraqi people.

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Internal Resources

Main Media & Propaganda on Swans

Iraq on Swans

The 1991 Gulf War Rationale - A Swans Dossier


Philip Greenspan on Swans (with bio).

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Published March 17, 2003
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