I know I am lying if…

by Sara Nye

You must intend to lie in order to lie. You must know you are lying. I promise. Which means, on some level, you must know the truth and choose to keep it a secret.

1. Bill Nye the Science Guy is my uncle. Lie. Because I know it’s false and I’m telling you anyway. Lies must know they are lies to be lies.

2. Bill Nye is really good at science. Truth. Because many people agree that this is accurate.

3. If I had chosen to study science instead of English and dance, I would have been as skilled in the sciences as Bill Nye. Honest statement. Neither truth nor lie. I’m not really sure if this is true or not, but I believe it to be true. Therefore, I am being honest.

Wait. So I could be telling a falsehood and still be an honest person, as long as I sincerely believe that thing is true? Yes. Oo, cool, sounds like a loophole. Let’s try again.

Photo: Lindsay Browning

Photo: Lindsay Browning

1. I know all the differences between truth and lies. I am a truth expert. I am a lies expert. I tell both every day and analyze what shape they have in my head, how they feel coming out of my mouth, what they look like settling on a person. Lie.

2. I am thinking about this blog post right now. Truth. I am writing down what I am thinking. Truth. Although that won’t be true by the time you read this, because by the time you read this, I will not still be writing down what I am thinking.

3. Lies are frustrating, confusing, inaccurate things. Truths are just frustrating and confusing. Honest statement. Sounds true to me.

Sometimes things start out as true and become false later. That’s frustrating and confusing. Promises not kept do that. Ever notice how a freshly made promise always sounds sincere, but there is always something of doubt surrounding how you hear it? That’s the lie part of the promise lurking about, waiting to see if it’ll be used or not. Because a promise is all intention. “Well at least she had good intentions,” people say. Truth. She had intentions. She intended to call you, but then Game of Thrones came on, so she decided she wanted to do that instead. And you can’t call her a liar, because she did indeed intend to call you, just something got in the way. The intention was there. She did not tell a lie.

Unfortunately, we can’t start calling all the people that break promises liars. They are just unreliable. Being unreliable does not make them liars. Sometimes people promise unrealistic or difficult-to-achieve things. They don’t know they are lying – they are just employing extreme levels of hope. Unless of course they are of that select group of people that make promises left and right knowing they have zero intention of making good on them. Those people are liars. But how can you tell the difference between an honest person and a liar? For your reference, a quick line of questioning that might prove helpful:

Friend promises something. For example, to check in on your dog while you’re away.

Ask yourself:

  1. Is the thing achieveable?
  2. Has friend successfully accomplished a similar thing before?
  3. Does friend seem attentive while promising thing?

If the answer is yes to all of the above, friend is probably not a liar.

Alternatively:

  1. Is the thing a difficult task? For example, training your dog to run marathons while you’re away.
  2. Has friend failed at a similar task before?
  3. Does friend seem attentive and hopeful while promising thing?

If the answers to 1, 2, AND 3 are all yes, friend is an honest overachiever.

If the answers to 1 and 2 are yes and the answer to 3 is no, they actually look kind of shifty, friend is probably a liar.

A foolproof system! Lie. Helpful in determining whether a promise will be kept. Maybe. Frustrating and confusing. Honest statement.

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