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The Liar's Master Class -- An Analysis

By       Message Lawrence Davidson       (Page 2 of 2 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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There is a mental illness characterized by habitual lying. It goes by the name of Pseudologia Fantastica. Here are some of the characteristics of this ailment:

a. The lies told "are not entirely improbable" and "upon confrontation, the teller can admit them to be untrue, even if unwillingly." In other words, the liar is aware that he or she is lying.

b. The lies told cast the teller in a favorable light.

c. The tendency to lie is a long-lasting one and not the product of the moment. It reflects an innate trait of the personality.

Well, Romney fits this pattern when it comes to the first two traits. It is hard to tell about the third. We will have to await the in-depth biographies that are certain to hit the market in short order. However, there is no doubt that the man has an easy facility for lying. One doubts if it keeps him up at night.

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Part V -- Conclusion

When the powerful lie it is a problem for all of us. That is because we do not usually act on the basis of what is true.  Rather we act on the basis of what we think is true. When it comes to foreign policy, what the powerful and the media tell us is what most of us accept as true. This distinction between what is true and what we think is true is critically important. If what we believe is true approximates the reality outside of us, then our plans and actions usually work out. If, however, what we think is true is off the mark, we can end up walking right off a cliff.

In the last 50 years, Americans have been walking off cliffs quite regularly, with the result that millions have been killed and maimed. They have done so in large part because they have a hard time knowing when they are being lied to, especially about foreign policy. If the Pew poll cited above is any predictor, nothing is going to change any time soon. Elect Mitt Romney and that walk toward the cliff might turn into a run. Reelect Obama, and the cliff will probably remain our self-destructive destination, but perhaps the pace will be more measured.

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Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign
Policy Inc.: Privatizing America's National Interest
; America's
Palestine: Popular and Offical Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli
Statehood
; and Islamic Fundamentalism. His academic work is focused on the history of American foreign relations with the Middle East. He also teaches courses in the history of science and modern European intellectual history.

His blog To The Point Analyses now has its own Facebook page. Along with the analyses, the Facebook page will also have reviews, pictures, and other analogous material.

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