You might be tempted to to say, “Et tu, brute?” but not so fast! Don’t forget that I exercised my God-given right to opt-out of the human race several years ago. I am not one of you.
These days you creatures are merely a fascinating field of study. You do know how to hold my interest, though. Don’t forget that I specialize in negativity.
There are so many branches of human negativity to choose from but dishonesty holds a special place in my heart.
What is a lie? The dictionary says it’s an “intentionally false statement.” It’s like the opposite of truth.
Ex: Max eats the last cookie in the jar. His mother asks, “Did you eat the cookie.” Max says, “No.”
Let’s say Max has cookie crumbs on his hand, face, shirt, and there’s a trail of crumbs leading from him to the cookie jar. That’s where forensic science comes into play, but that’s another story.
“Looks like this suspect,” the detective says while dramatically removing his sunglasses, “is ready to … crumble.” AAAAAEEEEEIIIIIIIII!
Lying is usually simple. It hinges on a truth that is knowable, and someone speaking something false about that truth. (There are lots of assumptions in there but let’s not go any deeper because it quickly gets complex. True that.)
Not so fast, said my opponent, who then referred me to a website that claimed the commandment wasn’t supposed to be taken quite that literal. According to them it wasn’t as simple as “thou shalt not lie.” Who knew?
The commandment actually says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” Over the centuries there has been a hell of a lot of debate about what that actually means. Who knew?
There are all different sorts of lies and for all kinds of reasons. “Would you go back in time and tell a lie to stop Hitler?” You bet your ass I would, Time Commander.
To me, though, perhaps my ultimate acrimony comes from folks who fail to practice what they preach. Hypocrisy. Which is, I think, a form of intellectual dishonesty.
Ex: “I love this country more than my opponent. I love democracy! My opponent is a commie pig.” The person making this statement then goes out and steals all of the yard signs of the person he’s running against. Methinks he doesn’t really know the definition of the word democracy, eh?
Sometimes, I think, intellectual dishonesty can be even more subtle. I racked my brain to come up with an example and this is what I came up with:
Max (our cookie thief and known liar) is back at it again. Every day he steals 10 more cookies from the cookie jar. (He has escalated his operation.) His mom sees this but remains silent and takes no action. She doesn’t even have the temerity to ask Max to stop.
She shoots a can of mace in Filbert’s face, starts blowing a whistle and calls 9-1-1. “There’s been a cookie theft,” she screams at the dispatcher. “And the suspect is still here. You’ve got to hurry!”
Yes, Filbert was wrong to take that cookie. He’ll have to pay for what he’s done. Maybe he should be subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques by the Keebler elves. But what about Max? I know, I know. My dad taught me when I was three days old that life isn’t fair. Gotcha. That’s one thing I do understand.
But who’s the real villain in this story? I think it’s the mom. True integrity comes not when the odds are ever in your favor but when doing the right thing comes with a cost, namely to yours truly. And that’s where human greed, bias, justification and blindness all come into play. That is where you humans most often fail.
When you consider our obsession with “winning” and “us vs. them” politics it should be easy to find many, many examples of the cookie thief scenario in modern society.
You can trust me. I’m being intellectually dishonest with you.