Politicians Are Liars

June 26, 2014

Just about everyone these days has come to the conclusion that all politicians are liars. Some have even been called serial liars, as if that separates them from the regular, daily lies that other politicians tell.

I’m not defending the lies that politicians tell but I’m wondering if we hold them to a different standard than the unintentional lies that the rest of us tell.

I’m saying that many of our lies are unintentional because we have faulty memories rather than to cover up our nefarious deeds. If we witness an accident, we think we will remember all the details forever. However, time after time, we are shown that what we see today will undergo vast changes in our perception when we retell the incident a year from now. Does that make us liars?

Most of us lead less busy lives than politicians, yet most of us can barely remember what we ate for breakfast, let alone what we said or did several years ago. And yet, we expect politicians to remember what they said and did after an appreciable lapse of time, during which they traveled extensively, voted on countless bills, gave numerous speeches and interviews, and met with hundreds of people, on and off the campaign trail.

Unless you have memorized a script and can replay it every time an issue comes up, chances are that your words will change every time in the retelling.

Studies show that even if we have extraordinary memories, they are still not perfect, and we can forget details or add things that weren’t there originally. They also show that if we tell an untrue story often enough, we will believe it really happened the way we have been telling it, even if it never happened at all or if it happened differently than the way we have told it.

So, does that make us liars? And if we excuse ourselves because of age or ill health, should we hold our politicians to a much higher, if not impossible, standard? Is it not possible that they really don’t remember all the details of what they did or said?

Again, I’m not excusing politicians for the intentional lies they tell us but, I’m questioning the other, unintentional lies that most of us have told due to faulty memories. If we hold politicians accountable for their unintentional lies, should we not hold ourselves just as accountable for ours?

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