According to Webster’s dictionary, fiction consists of written stories about people and events that are not real, or literature that tells stories which are imagined by the writer. Occasionally, fiction — and often the best fiction — is based on real life events. AND often, fiction is a form of embellishment used to illustrate a point, build a personal story and persuade a population to action. Often, when caught, the author of personal embellishment will claim a bout of “mis-remembrance.” Another word for this type of “embellishment” in written or verbal form is the simple three-letter word known as a lie.
So, why do people lie? In the absence of a psychological problem, people lie to persuade, to achieve, and to attract. Small personal white lies might save feelings and friendships – such as telling your friend that the outfit, no matter how ill-conceived, is attractive — especially if worn all day by the time you see her/him might save feelings. Bigger lies occur when society tells “white lies” that affect members of a population and instead of being harmless, end up being quite harmful.
1. The “persuasive” lie is one in which a person or group decides to make things up or tell half-truths in order to persuade the audience to believe certain larger than life things about themselves.
For example, Hillary Clinton’s claim of being “dead broke” or racing across the battleground on foot without any body armor in Bosnia after her plane was brought down in a volley of enemy fire, or the claim that all of her grandparents were immigrants… in fact she even named one in particular, Hanna Jones Rodham, as being an immigrant who worked in a lace factory in order to make ends meet. Or maybe that was the immigrant grandfather who worked in the lace mill to make ends meet…. either way, it seems that grandmother Hanna was really born in Pennsylvania. Whatever the scenario, whether the politician paints a word picture by exaggerating experiences in order to identify with the common broke folk, illustrate the bravery of militarily untrained older women on the battlefield, or appear to be a member of the immigrant class, the goal here is to persuade the voter to identify and true or untrue, move them to the voting booth. Caution: this strategy only works for politicians. Doing this on a resume or as a news anchor (Brian Williams for example) might be dangerous to your career.
2. The “puffery” lie inflates reality. In 2012, Breitbart documented the facts surrounding Senator Warren’s claims of Native American ancestry and demonstrated that no credible evidence exists to support those claims. But lack of genealogical evidence has never stopped Senator Warren from boldly asserting as fact something which is flatly not true – why would it? Despite evidence to the contrary, Warren is determined to be a Cherokee Indian tribal member. In fact, for the “Pow Wow Chow Cookbook,” she produced recipes (along with other Native Americans) of favorite Cherokee Tribe dishes such as “Cold Omelets with Crab Meat” and “Crab with Tomato Mayonnaise Dressing.” These were touted as family traditions until they were found out to be copied from a 1979 New York Times News Service article by Pierre Franey. Perhaps the real reason for the Native American heritage would be the preferred consideration for a position at an Ivy League University eager to attain its first Native American female professor. This has been a successful achievement because, despite evidence to the contrary, the story remains intact.
3. The “attraction” lie adds sizzle to an otherwise overcooked steak. I have always told my girls that the truth is often dull, sometimes strange, but hardly ever as elaborate and gilded as a lie. Being “dead broke” means having an often dull or mundane existence centered around simply trying to make the day work or trying to keep your head above water. It does not involve international travel, shopping sprees or expensive dinners. Cherokee Indian recipes often contain corn meal, beans, side meat (pork), eggs (often frozen and preserved) and wild onions. Crab meat omelets with or without mayo are seldom on the menu. And the possibility of an untrained person dodging enemy fire after being shot from the sky over a Middle Eastern country is highly unlikely unless Captain America used his mighty shield.
4. The “mythological” lie helps to advance a narrative. It is very useful but can also be very detrimental to people and causes. For example, the “hand’s up don’t shoot” fantasy concocted a few short months ago that has brushed off its false mantle and become a flash point for riots, looting and plunder. Unfortunately this falsity will obscure legitimate complaints and issues.We found that to be true with the Rolling Stone piece on a rape that probably never occurred. What effect this will have on other legitimate claims of rape and rape victims will be determined in the future.
Will any exposed lies matter? To some but not to others, especially those who WANT to believe. Desperately want to believe.
A final thought:
“People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I’ve learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one’s reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one’s master, condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person’s view requires to be faked…The man who lies to the world, is the world’s slave from then on…There are no white lies, there is only the blackest of destruction, and a white lie is the blackest of all.”― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged