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The Invention of Lying...

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ByteSlinger

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Post Sun Sep 12, 2010 3:21 pm

The Invention of Lying...

Time to get deep and philosophical here for a moment... :D

When I was doing all that insane traveling a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to watch a few movies here and there in the hotel room (no, Cobra, not THOSE type of movies - these were FREE!). One movie I saw was "The Invention Of Lying". Now, the movie itself was cute, but kind of slow paced - yet it did bring up a very deep question that's been bugging me for a while:

When did humans begin to lie?

I'm not talking about misunderstanding things, like when everyone used to believe the world was flat and the sun rotated around the earth. That was a perception error - no one "knew" the truth and mis-spoke it - they just hadn't learned the truth yet.

In nature, there are no lies. Oh, there's camouflage and mimicry, but the animals have evolved naturally to be that color or resemble something they're not. They didn't make a conscious effort to think "I will be something I'm not in order to manipulate my environment or improve my condition". Big animals eat little ones as a matter of the circle of life; reproduction is done at will for the continuation of the species; males fight for territory and for females - and the stronger wins. But there's no lying, no real deception.

I tried to figure this out myself - and the first question that comes to mind is this: Why do people lie in the first place? Sorry to say, I came up with quite a few, and although some have semi-honorable intentions, they are still lies:

- To lessen the apparent pain to someone you know and care about (example: you don't tell your family you're dying of cancer )
- To improve your chances of getting a good job (lying on your resume)
- To get the mate you've wanted (lying about your past, or your income, or your lack of previous relationships)
- To acquire something that you want (lying to a client about your competition so they choose you over them)
- To gain a military advantage over your enemy (sure, we'll call a truce...)

It goes on and on. But when did it start?

The first simple cave drawings of hunters chasing buffalo - they didn't lie. They may not have been accurate, but that goes back to "perception" of truth. Obviously, in order for a lie to work, a society needs some form of communication - and then that form of communication can be manipulated to the will of the liar.

In the movie, everyone starts out only telling the truth as they perceive it - no matter how it hurts people. There was no religion - and no "fiction" work whatsoever. People mated with others to improve their social lot in life and to have "good-looking" kids. It was very shallow, but at the same time, it was a reflection of what everyone saw as the truth: you are born, you live and you die. While you're alive, you make the best of it.

The protagonist in the movie winds up getting laid off from work, and not able to pay his rent. He goes to the bank to withdraw his last $300 - but he needs $800 for his rent. When he reaches the teller, she asks how much he wants to withdraw, and we hear his thoughts and see his brain go into spasms - and he blurts out "$800". She checks his account - the computer only says there's $300 - "but obviously the computer is in error", she said, and hands him $800.

It was a unique experience - he couldn't find the word for "lie", as it never existed before - he was say things that "weren't". The rest of the movie plays into the fact that once he starts lying - even for good intentions - it gets out of hand very fast.

So, my question is this: sometime after "caveman" and before the birth of Christ, there was that first person who had that "hey, I can make shit up to my advantage", and started introducing lies into society. Then, of course, it was all downhill from there.

That is my question to all of you: who invented lying :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: ?

(And no, it wasn't the government - they just took it to a whole new level).
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SlntCobra1

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Post Sun Sep 12, 2010 6:16 pm

Re: The Invention of Lying...

:shock: :shock:

Wow, I knew you could be philosophical when you wanted to be, but I didn't think you were this deep. o_0

As far as when people started lying, I would have to say sometime shortly after Columbus found America. If I know my history like I think I do, he told the Native Americans that he would have a peace treaty between them. This of course was wrong as the Spaniards proceeded to rape, pillage, and ransack their land.
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Post Wed Sep 15, 2010 1:30 am

Re: The Invention of Lying...

Very interesting thread. Allow me to make a few postulates which you can bounce off of:

First off, you said cavemen didn't lie. How do you know? Think about it: those cave drawings could have been exaggerations of achievements the men made. For example, if a caveman fought a beast and won, he might embellish the story a little bit to get a little more accolade for his achievement.

Also, stories told by word-of-mouth and traditional stories could in effect be lies by the same effect. While they aren't straight out lies, they're exaggerations of the truth.

Say a man was famous from saving a village from some beasts that attacked it. He could've been smart and dodged them, climbed up trees, and used spears effectively to not get killed. It's a great feat, and one that a man could easily do with enough skill, strength, and agility. However, the villagers tell the story to their kids, and their kids tell the story to the kids of their own, and the story gets passed on along the generations.

Let's say the man fought 4 beasts. However, the next generation either forgot the exact number or wanted to make it sound better...now all of a sudden he fought 8 beasts. Sounds like a much larger feat, of course.

The generation after that, either by lack of proper memory or by embellishment, leaves out climbing up the tree part. Now, it seems like he was fast enough to run around and not get attacked. Perhaps he had superhuman speed? Either way, the story's embellished even more.

The next generation leaves out the spear. Now you have a man fighting 8 beasts with his bare hands. In addition to superhuman strength and speed, now he's a true legend. This is something people could never hope to replicate at this point. Is it a lie? Sure it is. Was it intentional? No. And I can guarantee you that it's happened in real life many times.

Anyway, I'd say if you were looking at the roots of lying, that might be a good start. Ideas?
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ByteSlinger

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Post Wed Sep 15, 2010 9:39 am

Re: The Invention of Lying...

I can understand what you're saying, but it still falls under the category of "unintentional". What I'm really after is this: when did intentional deceit begin? Was it a small group somewhere, or did it seem to spring up over all cultures at the same time? Accepting a misconception as the truth when you all believe it to be true isn't a lie - it's just ignorance.

Now, as for the caveman theory - for the drawings to have been embellished such that it would improve the hunter's status in the tribe: that would imply that the hunter realizes the worth of his kills, and that the more he kills, the more he would admired and followed as a leader. In that case, like most people, he is lying for personal gain (status and leadership - like any politician). But what would motivate him to lie? If he was the best hunter, his own skills would be sufficient. But what if he wasn't the best hunter - what if he was getting old, and some younger tribesman had better skills than he did. The older hunter might see this, and see it as a challenge to his position as leader. Yet despite his efforts, he cannot keep up with the younger hunter.

He would have three choices: (1) step down as leader, (2) challenge the newcomer outright and let the tribe decide, or (3) avoid the challenge by misrepresenting his prowess.

Option (3) clearly plays into the male ego, along with a touch of fear.

I'm starting to get a sense of connection - once "man" discovered his ego, and gave himself a sense of self worth, it is possible that to protect that self-worth he would "bend perception" . After a few thousand years of this, he'd make it into an art form.

So, that leads us to the next part - when did mankind get this discovery of self-worth? When did the "self" become socially more important than the "tribe"? (no, not 1980)

Curiouser and curiouser...
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SlntCobra1

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Post Wed Sep 15, 2010 12:23 pm

Re: The Invention of Lying...

I'd have to go with Eagle on this one Byte. I myself was witness to a story being completely messed up from the original back in English III when I was in high school. We had a Native American creation myth and some people had to wait in the hall while the teacher read it to the rest of the class. Then someone had to relay the story to those in the hall. Of course it didn't last but 2 minutes before everything was completely raped. :shock:
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EagleRock

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Post Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:27 pm

Re: The Invention of Lying...

ByteSlinger wrote:I can understand what you're saying, but it still falls under the category of "unintentional". What I'm really after is this: when did intentional deceit begin? Was it a small group somewhere, or did it seem to spring up over all cultures at the same time? Accepting a misconception as the truth when you all believe it to be true isn't a lie - it's just ignorance.


Well, it's quite simple. You would have to admit that when a story get cobbled up by the "telephone effect," it's not hard to notice if you know the true story (or, should I say, the "truer form" of the story). However, who's to say that someone didn't catch on? "Hey, the legend doesn't go like that, but then again, people are more impressed by it than I was when I was told it. Maybe there's something to this 'embellishment stuff.' I should try this on myself and see if it gets me places."

ByteSlinger wrote:Now, as for the caveman theory - for the drawings to have been embellished such that it would improve the hunter's status in the tribe: that would imply that the hunter realizes the worth of his kills, and that the more he kills, the more he would admired and followed as a leader. In that case, like most people, he is lying for personal gain (status and leadership - like any politician). But what would motivate him to lie? If he was the best hunter, his own skills would be sufficient. But what if he wasn't the best hunter - what if he was getting old, and some younger tribesman had better skills than he did. The older hunter might see this, and see it as a challenge to his position as leader. Yet despite his efforts, he cannot keep up with the younger hunter.

He would have three choices: (1) step down as leader, (2) challenge the newcomer outright and let the tribe decide, or (3) avoid the challenge by misrepresenting his prowess.

Option (3) clearly plays into the male ego, along with a touch of fear.


There's a lot of question in that question, so I'll try to break it down quickly. First off, you of all people should know this one. If life experience shows one thing about people, it's that the affects of power on a person never change: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Let's say you ARE the elder of a clan or group or whatever. Let's also say you know you can be bested by the younger, stronger potential challengers. Would you want to give up your power? If the person happened to be male, you know the answer already. :-) Testosterone is predictable.

So, since the person wouldn't step down (duh), and they'd be an idiot to challenge them outright, subterfuge and intimidation is the next step.

I'd also like to note that this could be a very strong postulate in terms of how elders attempted to keep their power and reign over people by the power of their word, and not the power of their fist. Depending on your views of religion (and how cynical you are), you could say religion in general is a means to this end. Whether you'd call these primitive religious dignitaries clerics, preists, shamans, or whatever, they would keep control over a group by divine right (you can't do that...God will smite you!).

To make a long story short, you could say that lying started easily as a way to obtain and keep that ever-intoxicating drug, power.

ByteSlinger wrote:I'm starting to get a sense of connection - once "man" discovered his ego, and gave himself a sense of self worth, it is possible that to protect that self-worth he would "bend perception" . After a few thousand years of this, he'd make it into an art form.

So, that leads us to the next part - when did mankind get this discovery of self-worth? When did the "self" become socially more important than the "tribe"? (no, not 1980)

Curiouser and curiouser...


This one's even easier. Man noticed his ego once he noticed women go for the "better" man. :-)
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RogerBK

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Post Sat Nov 20, 2010 9:54 pm

Re: The Invention of Lying...

Wow, didn't see this thread before. :S

Hmm, we all don't know if we're right or life is just a lie.

How can we know if everything we think we know is truth??

For me, people started lying w/ Jesus, how can we really know if it was truth or a lie? I can be truth, but it can be a liw too, just to make people think on life. Or it can be true, it can be something that really happened 2010 years ago. How can we know? There are no solid proofs, and if someone show us this "proof", how can we know if it is true? We'd just believe in something that we know anything? I mean, like bytes said, people tought the Sun rotated around the Earth, maybe we're doing the same thing that those people did??

I'm not crazy, I just think we can't believe everything other people say. It's like the man walking on the Moon. Was it really filmed on the Moon or was it filmed in a US studio??

Strange. I think we lied since we started to talk. It's normal.
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ByteSlinger

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Post Sun Nov 21, 2010 12:50 am

Re: The Invention of Lying...

Roger, it is difficult at times to determine the truth, even when we are looking for it. Of course, when people lie, either by fabricating facts or omitting them, then it makes it even harder to find the truth even still.

The point of this thread was to consider at what point of "humanity" did the concept of lies become real? We know it had to happen before any "civilized" society (such as the Egyptians, The Greeks and Romans, etc.) because in all societies it was a crime to bear "false witness against someone".

Here's what I'm driving at: millennia ago, when humanity lived in caves and were barely discernible from their primate cousins, there was no spoken language. First communication is usually with gestures and grunts. Kind of hard to lie when your vocabulary consists of three sounds (Urrgghh!!! Hmmpphh!!! AAgggg!!!), So, we can all agree that at one point, at the dawn of humanity, lying didn't exist.

And clearly, it is all too prevalent today. So, somewhere, someone a long time ago who had at least a grasp of a rudimentary language had the brilliantly evil notion that by saying fictitious things, they could get something they couldn't have before. Maybe it was accidental - something misspoken to a friend or lover that gave the speaker more than they thought they would get. Maybe the mistake wasn't discovered until later - but once it was, it was kept quiet, as it represented a way to manipulate situations.

I'd like to have witnessed that - the first "consciously spoken lie", where the speaker knew damn well it was wrong, but since the ends justify the means, it was just fine to start - and hasn't stopped since. What did they lie about? What did it do for them? Did they pass the concept of lying on to friends, or did they all eventually figure it out themselves?

Along those same lines - I'd like to have witnessed the first person to look at a cow and go: "Yeah, I could drink from that!". Or the first drunken Scot who decided to build the world's first bagpipe (which, incidentally, both looks and sounds like an angry cat with a clarinet stuffed up it's ass screaming while being squeezed. That must have been one hell of a party!)

Just something to think about....
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Post Mon Dec 27, 2010 11:22 pm

Re: The Invention of Lying...

Deep thread indeed. I know I'm a little late to the party in replying, but I thought I'd throw my $.02 in.

Considering that religion developed independently in just about every culture, I would think lying would have been as well. Proof being the idea that every religion can't be true, as most of them have an exclusivity clause thrown in there somewhere (the is not other god than I etc.). That means that most religions must be false. That means that some religions were developed even when the developer knew they weren't true. Meaning that at some point, religionish things like animism went from being worship of the unknown to organized falsification, at least in some cases. (Note I'm not saying all religion is a lie, I'm just saying that some of them have to be. I don't mean to make this a religious conversation at all. Religion is merely convenient b/c religion is known to go back almost as far as man, and as such is useful in dating the invention of lying.) Let me know if I forgot anything from my disclaimer there.
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Post Thu Jan 06, 2011 3:15 pm

Re: The Invention of Lying...

There is a big difference between a "religion" and a "belief". I believe that there is more to life (and death) than what we see here; I believe that energy never is lost, just transferred; I believe that our souls (or spirits or personas) are in fact a collection of intelligent and coherent energy housed in the biological computer known as the brain; I believe that there are more than 4 dimensions, and that we, as humans, only perceive a fraction of reality. I believe in positive and negative energy, and the existence of truly good - and truly evil - beings, some of which walk this Earth, and some that are just beyond our perception.

I don't have any answers. I don't know what God looks like, or if He really cares if we live or die. But I believe that He exists, in some form.

But I do know that a RELIGION is a man-made thing, designed to control people and keep them in check. ALL RELIGIONS ARE FALSE - but not all belief systems.

If you look at the general similarities of belief systems, they all have these attributes:
a) There is at least one entity who is responsible for the creation of life (even through natural and assisted evolution)
b) That people should generally treat each other well
c) That you should respect the world - and others - around you
d) That we are all connected in the grand scheme of things
e) That Good breeds Good, and Evil brings Evil
f) That there are consequences for your actions.
g) That there is more to life beyond the veil of death, and how you live your life affects what happens to you afterwards.
h) That free will exists and you can choose your behavior

Now, a RELIGION is a set of rules imposed over a belief system. These rules are designed to control groups of people and to keep them as puppets to the government.

Case in point: Roman Catholicism.

I was born and raised a Roman Catholic in a nice, Irish/German family way. I was taught from the onset that you had to always go to church, fear God, and pray that you would go to Heaven. Had to go to confession once a month to cleanse my soul of sin by listing all my faults and failures to a priest (back in the day, it was face-to-face - none of this curtains / small room stuff), who then asked if I was sorry, told me to say a few prayers, and try to to better next time. Like nabbing extra ice cream at a party or calling someone "fatso" at school was a one-way ticket to Hell. But as a little child, this is the fear they put in you.

Everything had a schedule, and every tradition was repeated without fail. Church was the same ritual, with only the readings changing from week to week. On special days, like Easter and Christmas, there'd always be twice as many people in church as usual - all trying to catch up and break even with God. Despite all of the readings and all of the stories, after a while, anyone with half a brain could see many hypocritical issues - and things that just didn't match up. When you ask a priest, the answer was always the same: "It is a Divine Mystery - just have faith in it all."

But how do you have faith in something you don't trust?

I veered away from the Church when I was 20 - not to disown it, but to get a different view. I visited temples, synagogues and mosques - many of my friends were of different religions, and I tagged along to see how other people made their peace with their maker. After many years of looking, I discovered one very common fact: God didn't create religion - Man did.

Go back to the Roman Catholic church - they didn't exist before 325 AD. From the time of Christ's death until then, most Romans (and Greeks) still had their poly-theistic views - all of the Roman and Greek gods still adorned their temples, and people prayed to the ones they wanted favor from.

When Christ walked the earth, dozens of people wrote of his teachings. They journaled his life, adding in their views, and keeping what they could for posterity. Some wrote letters, some wrote books. Many went to jail for heresy against the government. But his life was chronicled by many sources, who at the time wrote the best as they could. Back then, writing was a tough skill, and not everyone could write - but those that could would listen to others and write down what they had to say. Let's face it - Jesus was, if nothing else, an amazing teacher and prophet who did perform miracles, and lived a quiet, non-assuming life. He didn't surround himself with riches, nor did he demand anything from his followers other than this:

"I have but one commandment - that you shall love everyone as I have loved you - with all my soul and with no bounds"

Simple. Just love eachother. Show respect, and treat others as you wish to be treated. Don't be afraid to give your life for someone you love, and don't hold back.

And for this, they hung him on a cross as a traitor. Nice. Really nice. So much for appreciation.

For 300+ years, his followers spread the word of his teachings, wrote more books, translated them and shared the simplistic concept of Jesus and love. There were no Crusades; there was no violence. The apostles were told that "if you enter a house and try to spread the word, but it falls on deaf ears, then quietly leave the home, shake the sand off your shoes, and move on." No force - at least not from the Apostles. Many of them were beaten; some were jailed and some were killed. It wasn't an easy job - and it was all volunteer work.

But it did spread, and people began to follow the concept of the "One True God" and "His Son, The Saviour". Great for people. Bad for militaristic countries that were trying to subjugate them as slaves.

Eventually, the Roman government figured that if they didn't step in soon, they would lose to the Christian movement. Tossing them to the lions just made them martyrs, so that plan didn't work well. They needed a different way to get a handle on this uprising. So they called together all their own advisers, after some digging around, realized that there wasn't any unity or structure to the movement. They read the Old testament, and then the notes from all of the writers of Christ, and after much thought, decided to CREATE a religion based on all of these writings. Some of the writings didn't fit in with the story they wanted to tell, so they were edited or omitted completely. A new set of "rules" was created - the NEW TESTAMENT. Carefully crafted from all of the writings, and dovetailed into the OLD testament (from Judaism), it painted a very direct picture of what it would take to be ROMAN CATHOLIC. It was based on Christianity, and pulled together many loose ends - but it was pretty much the biggest sale pitch ever made.

And it worked. Well, not always - some Christians didn't want to accept that all of the writings had been gathered and all of the priests had figured out how to tie it all together - along with many new rules that had not previously existed. The biggest one was "any follower of Christ, such as a priest, deacon, nun, etc. will need to fully abstain from sex." That was NEVER in the OLD Testament - in fact, Jewish Rabbis were encouraged to marry, have children, and teach Torah at home - and hopefully raise a few more Rabbis in the process.

But the Nicean Council of 325AD rigged it all - the government was in charge of the religion; you had to give your tithing (10% of your earnings) to the church; had to follow all these new rules - oh, and by the way, there is now a NEW position called "POPE", who is now the mouthpiece for GOD - and if the POPE says it, it's just like GOD says it. Hmmm... Sounds fishy. That was NEVER in the Bible, either - and you'd think something THAT IMPORTANT would have been mentioned by Jesus before he died - you know, at the Last Supper, when he was making plans for his demise (and subsequent return).

They even carved out a plot of land, called it "The Vatican", and much like an Indian reservation, it was NOT part of Italy (Rome) but instead it's OWN DOMAIN. Which meant it could make up its own rules at will - and if the POPE says it, you GOTTA do it. The Roman Government controlled the Pope, and the Pope controlled the religion - and the people. To further drive the point home, eventually the Templar Knights were formed to reinforce these new rules - and protect the lies that the Roman Government created in the name of God. These same Knights were the start of the Crusades - and either you accepted Christ as your savior - or you were killed. Now, that's 180 degrees opposite of what THE ORIGINAL APOSTLES were told to do!

From there you know the rest. I do not know about the true birth of Christ - the Greek words for "virgin" and "young woman" are similar. I do not know if Jesus had any siblings, or if he married and had children of his own. None of that matters. It doesn't change my "belief" - that He was imbued with the power of God - and he taught a simple message of love and peace.

There are many arguments about the formation of Roman Catholicism - about how it was "supposed to happen" from visions seen by Constantinople. But no matter how you look at it, the end result speaks for itself - the RELIGION was created to rule the followers of Christ, and the GOVERNMENT runs the religion.

Which brings us back to "lying" and religion. All Religions lie to you - some more than others. But take a step back, and decide what makes sense - what do you believe in? Do you need to follow a religion to enjoy the fruits of the afterlife? They all can't be different - and right - at the same time. At best, only ONE is correct. But it's most likely they ALL are wrong, to some degree.

As for "lying" - well that happened way before the concept of Religion. Religion made lying an art form - and a way of life.

As for my "immortal soul" - when I die, if I am to face God, and He were to ask me why I wrote these words, I would tell him simply this: "I cannot follow what I cannot trust. These are the words of Man, and mankind can't be trusted. I have never doubted You, or your Acts - just those who tried to tell the stories."

Being omniscient, He'll already know my answer. I'm sure it'll make him chuckle...
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