There Are Three Kinds of Lies

This image is from, for the TV show House, with an abrasive Dr. House, who apparently states in every episode that “Everybody lies.”  He has said in addition that “I don’t ask why patients lie, I just assume they all do.” and “It’s a basic truth of the human condition that everybody lies. The only variable is about what.”

Mark Twain stated in his autobiography that there are three kinds of lies:  lies, damned lies, and statistics.  He admitted that he had borrowed the statement from someone else, and much later Ronald Reagan also used the statement.  Today I too borrow it, but make some of my own improvements.

The premise behind Mark Twain’s quote is that there are three degrees of lies, and the worse lie is the somewhat hidden possible deception behind using statistics.  After all, numbers can be impressive and persuasive.  But they can be manipulated by careful choice of what is being compared and what is and is not included – manipulated to look like something they really are not.  For this reason, statistics are often used to bolster weak arguments.  Also, for the same reason, statistics are often mistrusted or dismissed by those who don’t support the position being “proven” with the statistics.

Here is the Gredler improvement to Mark Twain’s quote.  There are three kinds of lies:  lies, nefarious deception, and the damned denial and self deception.  The first, the simple “lies” are those lies everyone has experience with, what House says everybody does.  The second, nefarious deception, is similar to Twain’s statistics.  Rather than limit the deceit to skilful manipulation of numbers though, I include any concealment or misrepresentation of truth, any distortion or trick.  But for me the worst, and damned, lies are personal denial and self deception.

We all tend to see the world through rose colored glasses, sometimes with blinders, and always with some number of blind spots.  I explained when I started the blog that part of its title, Good Love, comes from a 14th century Spanish work called the Book of Good Love.  And that same day I shared the English translation of my favorite story from that book, the debate between the Greek and the Roman.  Back in May when I talked of blinders and deceit, I explained that this debate illustrates that people tend to find and see what they expect.  In that same post I explained the history behind Julius Caesar’s statement:  “In most cases men willingly believe what they wish.” In my post on sling bullets, I included what Demosthenes said, “Nothing is so easy as to deceive one’s self; for what we wish, we readily believe.”  Simon and Garfunkel sang, “All lies and jests, Still a man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest.”

One of the greatest problems with self deception is that our blindness is comfortable.  We prefer the short term pleasure or good feelings, the short term erasing of hurts over the long term regrets, because we don’t even consider the long term regrets till much later when we are caught up in the unpleasant results of our decisions.  So, even when others see my blind spots and point them out, I don’t want to listen, or even believe I might have a problem I need to address.  So I have to listen and truly hear, I have to see myself accurately when I look in the mirror.  That is why I have been trying to apply “Let a man examine himself” to my own life.

I don’t want to be in the condition of the Israelis, when Jeremiah was to tell them they were on the path to destruction.  Jeremiah knew his message would not be popular, and when he asked God what he should say to address that rejection, he was told to say:  “Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear.”

But what does this have to do with Good Love?  I want to be less foolish, have more sense, be wise.  So, I examine myself for things that might blind me or make me deaf to the needs of those I love.  I’ve shared that I want to show gratitude and give encouragement to make Better Love out of Good Love.  I’ve shared that for me, selfishness is the root of (almost) all the evil in my life.  How can I be less selfish?  By continuing to examine myself, by being sensitive to the needs of those I love.  Love means to be willing to sacrifice, and sacrifice carries a cost.  King David would not make a sacrifice that cost him nothing.

I often say that a man demonstrates what is important to him by what he spends his time and his money on.  And I have talked about love slaves (and the Spanish symbol for “slave”).  We are all slaves to something, we all serve someone or something.  As a love slave who wants to invest his Good Love wisely, I constantly have to work at making wise investments, improving when I can.  Tonight I heard another person repeat that the root of addiction problems is selfishness.  What can blind and deafen any more than the chains of addiction?

In love, I want to be the one who offers, who gives the kiss.  I don’t want to be the one who offers the cheek, the one who just takes the kiss.  And as the French proverb I shared goes, In love, there is always one who kisses and one who offers the cheek.

About Mark Gredler

I want to move from Good Love to Better Love, share it, and share the Best Love of God. I like ancient and medieval history, especially of Spain. I like photographing Spanish fiestas, and visiting Romanesque churches, from the 11th to 13th centuries. I enjoy traveling, seeing new places, meeting new friends, taking photographs of that, and want to write more about it all.
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12 Responses to There Are Three Kinds of Lies

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