We've all heard the joke: How can you tell when a politician is lying? His lips are moving.
But what about lying? Don't most of us fairly regularly violate the guidance of religion to be honest by telling lies of various sorts?
One new study and an interview about this are worth looking at.
In the study, researchers from the University of Toronto and the University of California-San Diego found that parents regularly lie to their children as a way of influencing their behavior and emotions. I especially liked the example of parents who told a child that if she wrapped up her pacifiers as gifts, the "paci-fairy" would come and give them to children who needed them. Pretty inventive.
This example was rather different from the approach by my mother, who used to tell me to clean my plate because children in India were starving. Then, partly to prove to me she wasn't lying, she and my father moved our family to India for two years when I was a boy. Mom was right.
The question, of course, is whether there are times when "parenting by lying," as it's called, is a moral choice. What do you think?
Next, James E. Mahon, head of the philosophy department at Washington & Lee University, says that, strictly speaking, there's much less real lying in society than we might think. Here is his definition of a lie:
“Certain conditions have to be in place for a statement to rise to the level of a lie. First, a person must make a statement and must believe that the statement is false. Second, the person making the statement must intend for the audience to believe that the statement is true. Anything else falls outside the definition of lying that I have defended.”
When an unbelievably rude member of the U.S. House shouts "You lie" at the president, I'm thinking that representative needs to read some of this stuff about what lying really is. Well, that's not all I'm thinking but I'll leave it at that here today.
* * *
NOT KEEPIN' THE FAITH, BABY?
Are Americans increasingly walking away from religious faith? A new study would suggest something like that is happening. Well, look. These studies reflect reality, but not perfectly. It's really hard to get a completely accurate picture of the religious landscape in America for many reasons, not the least of which is that often Americans themselves aren't quite sure where they are with religious commitments.