The Art of Lying


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If I told you lying was good for you, you probably wouldn’t believe me. But in my personal experience, lying is an appropriate response to particular conflicts – I’m not lying. Simply put, we lie because it works. This contradicts pretty much everything I was told by my parents growing up. It was always “tell the truth” and “never lie.” However, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to learn that lying serves me better than telling the truth. Now, before anyone judges me, it is necessary to clarify what I consider lying or in what situations I might lie to someone. I’ve lied most often by omitting the truth, embellishing stories, or agreeing with someone when I really don’t.  A simple example is telling my parents I got home from a night out a couple hours earlier than I actually did. The reasons for this lie include avoiding punishment (for my sake) and reducing my parents’ stress (for their sake). So is lying wrong? Most people would probably say that lying is always wrong, except when there’s a good reason for it – which means that it’s not always wrong. Although it may not sound good, we all lie to some extent in our lives. When we do it well, we get what we want. We lie to avoid awkwardness or punishment. We lie to maintain relationships and please others.

Mike Daisey’s “Retraction” episode is a unique case because he clearly embellished facts and made up a story in which he intentionally duped his audiences into believing. His reasoning/excuse/retraction is that he is an artist, not a journalist and so he shouldn’t be held to the same standards as a reporter. Throughout his “Retraction,” he constantly denies having “lied” but regrets not informing his audiences of his fictional work, which is billed as “nonfiction” on the program. It is clear to me that Mike Daisey lied despite his denials. The question now is whether he is an unethical liar. Does he fit into the category above where it is okay to lie? This may sound strange but if he had not been caught it would have been okay for him to lie. Bear with my reasoning. His monologues were beneficial to society. They exposed wrongdoing on Apple’s part even if the specific facts were embellished or made up. People were made aware of a serious problem and appropriate responses were made. But then when it was revealed that Daisey lied, it partially undid what he had set out to accomplish. As a result, society did not benefit from Daisey’s work.

Obviously, Daisey should never have allowed his work to be represented as journalism. Surely, he could have insisted it be represented as theatre, or parody, or exaggeration. But he did not do this. However, the fact remains that Apple still has poor working conditions that are unacceptable. The retraction is about what Daisy said he personally witnessed and has nothing to do at all with what actually happens in the factories. It really is important that we forget all about Daisey’s exaggerations when it comes to Apple’s factories. Daisey’s retraction should tell something about Daisey and not Apple.

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3 thoughts on “The Art of Lying

  1. Pingback: iTruth: Truth. Lies, and Podcasts (Blog Prompt 3) « Business, Government and Society VII

  2. Daisy used his lies to evoke passion and strong emotion from his audience. The only problem is the truth generally has a way of coming out, especially when it involves something that evokes so much passion. To me, Mike Daisy is similar to a man who tells a woman that the Beatles are also HIS favorite band just so she would have stronger feelings towards him. But we all know how that ends. With the foundation of the relationship formed on a lie, they get married. One day she hooks her iPod up to the car stereo on a road trip to her parents house and starts blasting some Beatles. Yeah, he can get through some of the popular ones okay; he can sing the chorus and hum some of the verses, but that won’t cut it. Now she puts on a throwback that he doesn’t know, and she gets a little suspicious. Next thing he knows, she gets him to reveal he never actually liked the Beatles and her whole world crumbles. All trust is out the window. Who is this guy she married? She doesn’t even know him anymore. What else is a lie? Even all the truths told in the past are now subject to skepticism. The truth has a way of coming out when it involves something that people emotionally stand behind.

  3. I still think that this entire issue would be moot if he had just replaced “Non-fiction” on his billing with “Based On A True Story”. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was the first horror film to use that exact phrase and it did tremendously; this is because when you say “Based On A True Story” people most of the time choose to see “True Story”. Going along with my little rewrite of his billing, he’d probably be brought into This American Life to do his spoken word piece and then afterward be interviewed on what was true and what was from research he dug up (his whole story just makes me think of a Frankenstein Monster, a real cadaver with pieces of other dead guys sewn on). How many more asses do you think Daisey put in the seats of his theater with “Non-Fiction”?

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