A lot of the talk that goes on here seems to operate on the assumption that, when we're lied to, it's for some nefarious purpose--but examination of
human behavior patterns will show you that humans lie for hundreds of different reasons. Often, it's for a pretty good reason--there are facts that
some people don't need to know, truths that only bring pain to unprepared minds, and ideas that can turn civilizations on their heads. Sometimes,
knowing half of the truth can do more harm than knowing nothing at all--and sometimes, the danger can come simply from knowing the wrong
of the truth.
Take, for example, the sand tiger shark
. Probably the scariest fish on the planet, the sand tiger was one of the first species of
shark to suffer from human fear and ignorance.
To save the poor beasts, the scientific community deliberately spread the myth that sand tigers were harmless and gentle--it worked. Today, the sand
tigers are finally recovering from the massive losses inflicted on them by human hunters--but the lie that saved them remains.
In truth, sand tigers are
rather shy creatures, and have never been known to eat humans--but those teeth aren't just for show. They've
attacked people on rare occasions, and if cornered or provoked, they can and will
The official story on the sand tiger is only half of the truth--but it is a less dangerous falsehood than the one that nearly destroyed them. Perhaps
someday, the complete truth can be spread in the same way--but such an undertaking would be extremely difficult; the simple meme "sand tiger sharks
are harmless" is a lot easier to disseminate, and just as effective in protecting them.
A second example is the wildly differing stories regarding hypnosis. Laymen typically fall into two camps: the people who see hypnosis as B-movie mind
control, and the people who believe that it's just a parlor trick. The truth is, you can
make people do some pretty outrageous things under
hypnosis. Anything you can talk someone into doing, you can hypnotize someone into doing--and there are people who can talk people into doing just
about anything--but all it really does is expedite the process.
Hypnosis only works as a mind control mechanism when combined with conditioning or other brainwashing methods--and that's a bit of a pain to do,
since you need consent for the initial induction and multiple sessions before it starts to sink in. But when you explain that to a layman, the
immediate reaction is "Oh, no! He can control my mind! Get away from me, you diabolical psycho!" So, rather than inspire paranoia with a complex and
easy to misinterpret truth, I allow subjects to believe that I have no more power over them than what they give me--which, technically, is true for
most of them.
Sometimes, a lie can be told for completely mundane reasons. The official story of the Roswell event was obviously false, and suspicions of a massive
cover-up endure to this day. Recently, however, they've admitted that there was one--but one of a very different nature than what UFOlogists
expected. As it turns out, the object that landed in Roswell not a weather balloon, but a military spy balloon--part of an experiment that couldn't
be disclosed to the public at the time, but has since been declassified. Now, of course, this hasn't stopped the true loons from claiming that there
was an even more
massive cover-up, but I see no particular reason to doubt the official story--which, unlike the balloon, has yet to develop
So in short, next time you can tell you're being lied to, think it over a little more. Is malevolence the only possible motive? Are you sure the
thing being covered up isn't just a blunder or embarassment? Or could somebody even be trying to protect you from yourself? Just my two cents.