Friday, August 14, 2020

Quotes on lying

"What I see as white, I will believe to be black if the hierarchical Church thus determines it."
Ignatius of Loyola. Quoted by Tom Beaudoin. Consuming Faith: Integrating Who We Are with What We Buy. Lanham, Md.: Sheed and Ward, 2003. p. 54.

"Men hate those to whom they have to lie."
Victor Hugo, quoted in the Associated Press, quoted in The Week, Sept. 26, 2014, p. 17.

"The only lies for which we are truly punished are those we tell ourselves."
V. S. Naipaul, quoted in The Wall Street Journal, quoted in The Week, May 24, 2013, p. 17.

"What does the specific hypnotic experiment with which we started show? (1) The subject wills something, namely, to read his manuscript, (2) he thinks something, namely, that C has taken it, and (3) he feels something, namely, anger against C. We have seen that all three mental acts—his will impulse, his thought, his feeling — are not his own in the sense of being the result of his own mental activity; that they have not originated in him, but are put into him from the outside and are subjectively felt as if they were his own. He gives expression to a number of thoughts which have not been put into him during the hypnosis, namely, those “rationalizations” by which he “explains” his assumption that C has stolen the manuscript. But nevertheless these thoughts are his own only in a formal sense. Although they appear to explain the suspicion, we know that the suspicion is there first and that the rationalizing thoughts are only invented to make the feeling plausible; they are not really explanatory but come post facto.
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An example of irrational rationalization is brought forward in a well-known joke. A person who had borrowed a glass jar from a neighbor had broken it, and on being asked to return it, answered, "In the first place, I have already returned it to you; in the second place, I never borrowed it from you; and in the third place, it was already broken when you gave it to me.'"
Erich Fromm. Escape from Freedom. New York: Avon, 1941. pp. 212-213, 218.

In his Novum Organum Bacon tried to give a systematic survey of these human prejudices. He has given a list of the different kinds of idols: the idola tribus, the idola specus, the idola fori, and the idola theatri, and he tried to teach how to overcome them in order to clear the way which at last will lead to a true empirical science.
Ernst Cassirer. Symbol, Myth, and Culture: Essays and Lectures of Ernst Cassirer 1935-1945. Donald Phillip Verene, ed. (1979) New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. p. 264.

“The artist is the most interesting of all phenomena, for he represents creativity, the definition of man. His unconscious is full of monsters and dreams. It provides the pictures to consciousness, which takes them as given and as "world," and rationalizes them. Rationality is only the activity of providing good reasons for what has no reason or is unreasonable.”
Allan Bloom. The Closing of the American Mind. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987. p. 206.

“She [Sissela Bok] points out that Plato, in his Republic, says that because physicians may use falsehood as a form of healing, they enjoy a right to dissemble that laymen do not.” Leah Hager Cohen. I Don't Know: In Praise of Admitting Ignorance (Except When You Shouldn’t). New York: Riverhead Books, 2013. p. 86.

[John] Grambling’s ability to rationalize his behavior is typical of the attitude that psychopaths have toward their victims. ... “In Grambling’s mind, anyone who is stupid enough to trust or believe him deserves the consequences,” said Rosner.
* * *
When caught in a lie or challenged with the truth, they [psychopaths] are seldom perplexed or embarrassed--they simply change their stories or attempt to rework the facts so that they appear to be consistent with the lie. The results are a series of contradictory statements and a thoroughly confused listener. Much of the lying seems to have no motivation other than what psychologist Paul Ekman refers to as a “duping delight.”
Robert D. Hare. Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us. Atria, 1993. (Released by Guilford Press for Kindle, 2011.)

"So often we fight the facts because they do not fit into our preconceived notions of reality, because reality does not conform to what we want or need. We cease to be rational. We begin to rationalize. Rationalization is finding reasons for not being reasonable. It is looking at facts through lenses distorted by desire."
Sherwin T. Wine. Staying Sane in a Crazy World: A Guide to Rational Living. Birmingham, Mich.: The Center for New Thinking, 1995. p. 69

Surely Isaac can tell the difference between Jacob and Esau, yet once he decides to accept the ruse, he cannot resist punishing the boy with fear of discovery. Again and again Isaac asks his son, 'Which one are you?' He goes so far as to bring the boy near to sniff at him. Isaac knows just how corrupt Jacob is as he exclaims, 'Behold, the scent of my son is like the scent of a field blessed by God,' from which we are to understand, perhaps, rich in natural fertilizers.
Burton L. Visotzky. The Genesis of Ethics. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc, 1996. p. 157.

“The first rule of black business everywhere is: never let anyone know what you're thinking. Didier's corollary to the rule was: always know what the other thinks of you.” Gregory David Roberts. Shantaram. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2003. p. 56.

”…[assimilated Catholic] Americans mostly find a way to stay in their faith by adhering to values most important to them and quietly ignoring those they disagree with."
Victor J. Stenger. God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2008. p. 208.

“The first thing the devil does when he wants you back is offer you a few small lies that you can tell yourself as you walk yourself over to his side.”
Larry Beinhart. Salvation Boulevard. New York: Nation Books, 2008. p. 121.

"Five years after the name Bernie Madoff became synonymous with extravagant fraud, the only thing that makes him unique is the size of his swindle, said Al Lewis. In truth, his scheme was 'simple, common, and frankly, quite pedestrian.' We know this because Ponzi schemes continue to happen 'all the time.' Hundreds of perpetrators have been uncovered since Madoff's crime came to light, and those are just 'the ones who got caught.' The fraudsters all rely on the same classic scam: 'Lure investors with promises of solid returns with no risk.' It works like a charm. The only reason you don't hear much about these schemes, some of which net billions of dollars, is that 'Madoff's Ponzi was so large it ensures minimal attention for all the smaller Ponzis to come.' In fact, some schemes involving 'only a few million dollars' aren't even being prosecuted. The government just asks swindlers to stop what they're doing and release their ill-gotten gains. The world will have Ponzis 'as long as people are willing to fall under the spell of a slick-talking salesman, or follow the uninformed advice of their admired friends, without asking questions.' Even after Madoff, plenty of people still can't recognize what's too good to be true."
The Week, December 27, 2013, paraphrasing Al Lewis, "Why we'll always have the Madoffs."

“It is likely that neither on one hand nor the other — not when he declared himself unquestionably Francoist or when he declared himself an incipient democrat — was Suárez telling the truth, but it’s almost certain that, like a transparent being whose deepest secret consists of not having secrets or like a virtuoso actor declaiming his part on a stage, he always believed what he was saying, and that’s why everyone who heard him ended up believing in him.”
Javier Cercas. The Anatomy of a Moment: Thirty-five Minutes in History and Imagination. (2009) Translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean. New York: Bloomsbury, 2011. p. 305.

Once I asked him where he had been until two A.M. the night before. I always got answers that did not exactly satisfy, but that worked.
They worked because the explanations you most want to hear are also the easiest to deliver. They require so little evidence. One sentence will suffice, something short and offered up by your spouse with a surfeit of confidence.
* * *
It becomes too much to keep track of unless you plan on scribbling everything down in your infidelity ledger. I would build just enough truth into my excuses that they would be easier for me to remember. I would say where I had been but not precisely whom I had been with. Or I would use the phrase "a whole bunch of people." This Bill came to hate. It was a red flag for him even before he knew why. This is easy to understand. Any spouse who is even half-awake would prick up his ears at such defiant nonspecificity.
Wendy Plump. Vow: A Memoir of Marriage (and Other Affairs). New York: Bloomsbury, 2013.

"The snag is that voters define 'loopholes' as other people's tax breaks. Their own, they rather like."
"How to save Obama's second term," The Economist, May 25, 2013, p. 13.

“What a shitty time we’ve lived to see…We once lived in a totalitarian state that had two main features: totalizing terror and a totalizing lie. I hope that totalizing terror is no longer possible in our country, but we have now entered a new era of a totalizing lie.”
Yuri Samodurov, former Soviet dissident, quoted by Masha Gessen. The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. (2012) New York: Riverhead, 2014.

“He said ‘categorically’ that a White House investigation indicates ‘that no one in the White House staff, no one in this administration, presently employed, was involved in this very bizarre incident.’ Nixon added, ‘What really hurts is if you try to cover it up.’”
Allan J. Lichtman. The Case for Impeachment. Dey Street Books, April 18, 2017. p. 26.

"When lies are political, they are particularly prone to what is called 'motivated reasoning'..."
Brian Klaas. The Despot's Apprentice: Donald Trump's Attack on Democracy. Hot Books, 2017.

Veteran journalist Carl Bernstein questioned on Sunday [May 27, 2018] if President Trump’s actions are leading the country toward authoritarianism.
* * *
“I think we can look at a big picture now with some real definition, in which the perilous moment for our country right now, and it's a question of whether lies, authoritarianism and the character of the president of the United States are going to take us to an authoritarian place where we have never been in, which he will bury a duly constituted and legal investigation that will determine whether or not the president is above the rule of law,” Bernstein told CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”
Luis Sanchez. “Carl Bernstein questions whether Trump is leading US toward authoritarianism.” The Hill. May 27, 2018.

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