Professor Joakin Nilsson
5 June, 2012
The Ways We Lie
In “The Ways We Lie,” Stephanie Ericsson presents the idea about how lies exist in the everyday aspects of our lives. She describes ten different forms of lies that individuals use. She defines a lie as “a false statement or action especially made with the intend to deceive” on page no.409 of Bedford Reader. In her essay she argues that everybody lies and tries to find excuses to justify it. She provides personal examples including lying about being stuck in traffic, lying to her husband and her friend. Ericsson talks about how always telling the truth is difficult and it almost seems impossible. The first lie she talks about is “white lie” which assumes that the truth will cause more damage than a simple harmless untruth. An example that she uses to portray this lie is telling a friend he looks great when he looks like hell. The second lie she talked about is facades, which is putting up a front to conform to society’s expectations in the sense that there may be a large difference between the ways that an individual presents themselves from the way that they truly are. Moreover she said that ignoring the plain facts is itself a form of lying. In example, people were ignoring the truth of priest being in denial because they needed him and believed that his treatment had cured their children. Deflecting is the other lie in which she said that sometimes when people want to hide the truth they tend to scream at the other person in order to deflect the attention off them. Furthermore she implies that omission involves telling most of the truth minus one or two key facts that change the story completely. The author provides an example of a different version of the story Adam and Eve. For stereotypes and clichés, she talks about how in an attempt to gain a vast amount of knowledge, individuals are often taught generalized ideas about certain groups and individuals which may not necessarily be true. An example that she uses to demonstrate this idea was the truck driver scenario. Once she admitted that she had a mouth like a truck driver and when a man stood up and said he is a truck driver and he never swear, she felt ashamed. On the other hand she implies that lie exists in groupthink where devotion to a group is important and it requires a combination of different forms of lies - omission, ignoring the facts and denial. In addition to these, in Out-and Out Lies she determines that it is a kind of lie which shows the innocence of the person who is lying and it can be easily confronted. The bald- faced lie doesn’t toy with our perceptions- it argues with them. The author reveals that dismissal is a dangerous tool because it’s nothing less than a lie taking the example of the toddlers, who wants attention of their parents, sometimes are dismissed out of necessity. At the end she explains that delusion is a powerful lying tool as it clarifies or cleans the information that opposes what we want to believe and it uses the mind’s ability to see things in numerous ways to support what it wants to be the truth.
Ericsson classifies the kinds of lies we all tell at one time or another. She says that lying is unavoidable and sometimes even beneficial. She is trying to persuade her readers that everyone lies and still considers them to be honest since it doesn’t “hurt” anyone. In my opinion, I think she almost covered all the different types of lie that exist and she provides adequate evidence to support her ideas by providing her own examples like lying to her client, her partner etc. She employed three most important tools of persuasion: Logos (argument by logic), Pathos (argument by emotion), and Ethos (argument by character). I believe that she provided a good example of a white lie when she talked about the sergeant in Vietnam (page no. 409) to show...