The numbers don’t lie: People can’t tell the truth

Many parents try to instill in their children that lying is wrong. However, it’s nearly impossible for any parent not to tell their child a lie. Ever hear of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny?

People – including Americans – lie. It’s the truth. According to a poll conducted by The Associated Press and Ipsos, more than half of the 1,000 people polled said lying was “never justified,” while up to two-thirds of the same people said it was okay to lie when the situation called for it.

Americans are now lying about the fact they lie.

Lying is, of course, nothing new, especially in the classroom. Nowadays teachers are extremely skeptical when a student misses class or doesn’t do his or her homework. When a student needs to attend a funeral, the teacher practically asks for the death certificate to prove whether the student is telling the truth. It’s hard for the person who is telling the truth, but many teachers require it because another person in the class has likely already attended their fourth grandmother’s funeral that semester.

The only good thing about the contradiction of the poll is that it concludes that people do lie, though there is another possibility: Perhaps the poll respondents were answering both questions truthfully. It seems contradictory, but the response that lying is never justified is a fairly common one, despite the fact that everyone – yes, even you – has embellished something at some point in time and will do so again in the future.

After all, why would the people taking the poll lie? The responses are anonymous, and presumably the respondents had nothing but their moral compasses to guide them in answering. Either they lied about it because they could – in which case the poll randomly selected a bunch of pathological liars – or they didn’t realize they were lying.

Let’s face it: Sometimes the situation calls for a lie. Be it to save face, prevent the embarrassment of a friend or protect something secret, people are going to find a reason to stretch the truth. This is, of course, at odds with what most children are taught – that honesty is the best policy.

But perhaps the greatest service the poll can serve (aside from providing an amusing statistic) is to get people thinking about the lies in their own lives. They’re there – that’s a certainty – but do they need to be?

Whatever you’re lying about, dear reader, why are you doing it? Will the truth really have the ramifications you are expecting? Are you certain you won’t get caught?

Could you get by without lying?

It would certainly help your integrity if you could.