House famously always stated:
George Castanza once said, “It’s not a lie if you believe it.” Wordnet at Princeton.edu defined a lie as “the deliberate act of deviating from the truth.” Wikipedia defines lie as:
A lie (also called prevarication), is a type of deception in the form of an untruthful statement, especially with the intention to deceive others, often with the further intention to maintain a secret or reputation, protect someone’s feelings or to avoid a punishment. To lie is to state something that one knows to be false or that one has not reasonably ascertained to be true with the intention that it be taken for the truth by oneself or someone else.
When you look up Lie at Wikipedia.com, Wikipedia notes different types of lies. They are:
- Fabrication: a statement as truth, without knowing for certain whether or not it actually is true; it is something made up, or it is a misrepresentation of the truth.
- Bold-face Lie (often also referred to as bare-faced or bald-faced, although all three have slightly different meanings): a statement that is obvious to all concerned that it is a lie.
- Lying by Omission: simply omitting an important fact, deliberately leaving another person with a misconception.
- Lie-to-Children: often a platitude which may use euphemism(s), which is told to make an adult subject acceptable to children.
- White Lie: typically offers some benefit to the hearer used to avoid offense.
- Noble Lie: offers some benefit to the liar and assists in an orderly society…often told to maintain law, order and safety.
- Emergency Lie: a strategic lie told when the truth may not be told because, for example, harm to a third party would result.
- Perjury: the act of lying or making verifiably false statements on a material matter under oath or affirmation in a court of law, or in any of various sworn statements in writing.
- Bluffing: to pretend to have a capability or intention which one does not actually possess.
- Misleading/Dissembling: no outright lie, but still retains the purpose of getting someone to believe in an untruth…the presentation of facts in a way that is literally true, but intentionally misleading.
- Exaggeration (see also hyperbole): a statement that is true only to a certain degree, though not to that which is told.
- Jocose Lie: those which are meant in jest, and are usually understood as such by all present parties (ie. teasing, sarcasm).
- Contextual Lie: A statement that contains only part of the truth out of context, knowing that without complete information, it gives a false impression.
- Puffery: an exaggerated claim typically found in advertising and publicity announcements.
- Lying in Trade: the advertisement untrue facts about the product or service in order to gain sales
- Lie by Obselete Signage: the continued use of old stationery that has printed information which is not out-of-date.
Augustine wrote two books on lying and had a hierarchy of lies (of which jocose lying was not part). They are in increasing severity:
- Lies that harm no one and that save someone’s “purity.”
- Lies that harm no one and that save someone’s life.
- Lies that harm no one and that help someone.
- Lies told to “please others in smooth discourse.”
- Lies told for the pleasure of lying.
- Lies that harm others and help someone.
- Lies that harm others and help no one.
- Lies in religious teaching.
So why do we lie? In my opinion, it comes down to one word: FEAR. Whether it is the fear of being rejected, of losing something (also akin to greed), of conflict, of being unpopular (or reputation management), of truth, of consequences (or even self-protection), it is fear that often pushes us to lie.