Monday, June 18, 2012


We've heard them all.  People use them all the time.  In fact, the advent of new kinds of media has been accused (accurately or inaccurately) of increasing the volume of them.  I'm talking about the art of telling lies. It goes back as far as Adam and Eve (you know when Eve asked Adam if her fig leaf made her look fat and he told her "No.").  Entertainers, Celebrities, Athletes and (duh!) Politicians have lied to us so many times that it's become "old hat" in our culture.  They've even told lies upon lies.  Some of them have become very inventive and creative in their lying that you just have to marvel at their dishonest artistry.  In my years as a so-called "Pop Culture Critic," I have deciphered that there are 7 types of lies that are the most common.   They also get used so often that they have become the hardest types to tell if they are in fact lies.  And for a Special Note, just to show that there is no form of political bias: ALL Politicians on both sides of the aisle have used EVERY one of these types of lies making neither side superior to the other.

The Flat-Out Denial - This is the obvious one.  It's like when the kid breaks his mother's vase and says: "I didn't do it."  Or when a notable criminal, who they have clear evidence of committing the crime, pleads "Not Guilty" in court.  It is fairly straightforward, but it is a type of lie nonetheless.

The Lie by Omission - Another really common one.  It's when a person withholds certain (most likely pertinent) information that is often in some shady gray area on the moral compass.  It probably stems from the hostile and antagonistic relationship between interrogators and suspects (you know: Anything you say can be used against you... or Just state your Name, Rank and Serial Number... and the like).

The Lie of Definitions - This is a term I coined myself when I was in High School.  Another term for it could be "Mincing Words."  And those who know me, know that I love a good "Word Mince."  Two of the best examples of it that I can think of are both political and were both in the 1990s (and were the impetus for the coining of the term!).  President George H. W. Bush infamously said in a speech that there would be "No New Taxes."  The important word in that statement being "New."  He didn't create new taxes, he just raised a lot of the older, already established taxes...for the middle and lower classes.  Later that same decade, President Bill Clinton sparked a national debate on the definition of "Sex" when he was asked if he had sex with intern Monica Lewinsky and said "No," meaning that he did not have sexual intercourse with her which (technically) was true.  He had, however, engaged in oral sex with the woman in the confines of the Oval Office.  In both cases, the Former Presidents weren't (technically) lying based on what they said, but the spirit of their statements were torpedoed by the actual truth.

The Little White Lie - This one is probably the most common as we all have done it.  And usually, it is not done with malicious intent.  More often it is done to spare someone's feelings or keep the peace between certain people (like families, friends or co-workers!).  The best example is when you go to see a friend's concert or stage performance and it is not very good, but you tell them they did a "Good Job!" just so they don't feel bad.  Its also often called "the tiny little fib."  It is not to be confused with...

The Snowball Lie - Also known as "The House that Jenga Built."  This is when you tell what you think is a little fib, but then you have to tell another lie to keep up with the original.  And then another.  And another.  And another until it becomes a lie to big to handle.  Conspiracies tend to fall in this category as, in most cases, they are made up of small (and sometimes NOT so small) lies to cover up one huge and usually illegal truth.  Sorry to say kiddies, but the whole "Santa Claus" myth tends to fall under this category.  Rather fitting when Santa and Snowballs come together!

The Inference Allowance - This one is often a combination of some of the types I've already mentioned.  And its such a gray area that it needs its own special category.  Its basically when you allow somebody to think something you know for a fact is not true, but you just don't correct them.  It can happen through omission, denial or pure semantics (re: mincing words!), but it does happen.  In popular culture, it often happens when a famed celebrity couple divorces.  Our media is so hungry for there to be a "bad guy" in the situation that one of the couple (most often the guy) allows the media to paint them as say a cheater or a deadbeat or an emotionally distant jerk.  Therefore, the public infers what they think is the truth (or more precisely what they've been told is the truth) and it is just never corrected.

The Lie to the Telemarketer - I do this one all the time...and I don't feel one twinge of remorse about it.  This is the most acceptable of all types of lies!  Who cares if one lies to a Telemarketer?  Its not like they're gonna come after you.  And even if they did, you could probably gather a whole group of people who would be on your side and they'd lie to protect you!

Now, you may be wondering: "What the hell does all this mean anyway?"  You're thinking that a lie is a lie and it doesn't matter whether its by omission or mincing words or a tiny fib, its still wrong.  And on some level, you're right.  But the purpose of all this is that in this day and age where everyone tends to lie (and even lie about lying!), dissecting the different types of lies might bring us all to a better understanding and weed out those who lie for their own gain (cause lying to a Telemarketer will always be acceptable!).  Now, for your listening and viewing entertainment, watch Fleetwood Mac's 1980s hit "Little Lies" because...well I need to finish this article with something!

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