Honest people are the best liars.

A truism of the human condition. Everyone lies, even if it is unintentional. The true masters of the art are the honest ones; they can remember what they said to one person and make sure they don't contradict themselves when talking to another. Their mind carefully ticks and tocks, mainting a delicate equilibrium of deciet.

Almost all lies are discovered by one person knowing something that clashes with what someone else knows. One of them has been told a lie. An "honest" person carefully articulates his lies, making sure that they all fit together to form one large false mosaic, rather then several false conflicting mosaics that can lead to the discovery of the lie.

Thus, it is important to handle only one lie with any one population at a time if the lies contradict each other, because with each contradicting lie you increase the chance that somebody will unearth your falsities.

The reason this technique is so often succesfull, lies in a bit of egoism. Tell people what they want to hear, and they'll think you're honest. Tell people what they don't want to hear, and you call them to action, doing exactly what you hoped they would.

This is an interesting node... and it is quite a challenge to write something on this subject. Lying, after all, is the ultimate "hot-button subject".

How does an honest person lie, and why?

First, let me disagree with Nanosecond, whose writeup implies that he does not appear to believe that there is such a critter as an "honest person". Rather, "honest", in Nanosecond's interpretation, means simply "so good a liar as to never get caught". I just can't subscribe to this worldview. I'm cynical, but I'm not that cynical.

Now, even the most honest person will know that telling the whole, unvarnished truth all the time is not a wise practice. People aren't made to accept blunt truth - and, to be completely honest would mean doing away with many politenesses that are absolutely vital pieces of social lubricant. After all, would you want people to tell you 100% honestly what they thought of your clothes, the way you look, the way you perform your job, etc.?

A wise person thus knows that it is possible to put too high a premium on complete honesty. Sometimes, the truth must not be stated bluntly. It must be packaged.

This, of course, begs the question: "If it is all right to conceal the truth, then when does concealment end and lying begin?"

To withhold the truth is sometimes a wise act. To present falsehood as truth is always wrong.

This is where I see the honest person's skill in deception: to parcel out the truth sparingly, in such a way as never to tell an outright falsehood, while not revealing that which must be concealed.

Contrariwise, a liar has no respect for the truth - he will hand out falsehoods and truth with carefree abandon, bending reality as it suits him.

Of course, the honest man has another recourse, one that has its basis in the fact that most people expect others to be liars - he may tell the truth, but do it so unconvincingly that everyone is certain that he is lying. In this way, he may achieve his goal of concealment, without compromising the essential value of truth.

In truth, as the Bard would have it, we weave a tangled web, when we practice to deceive. Nevertheless, lying really is completely unnecessary. A person of even mediocre intelligence may avoid deliberate falsehoods by the simple expedient of judiciously limiting the truths that he speaks.

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