I said this post may be about truth. But I lied. It’s about lying.
What brain mechanism activates to allow us to believe something we actually know to be a lie? Whether it’s about ourselves, our parents and family history, about our nation or maybe about science and the social world, we don’t have to go very far to see us believing something we know to be false.
The next question is harder. What do we get out of doing that? Is it like a movie set? We know it to be just a facade with nothing but empty space behind it, but the facade is SO convincing, so alluring, we just fall into believing it’s got a whole building behind it.
I had a friend long ago, at least 20 years, who told me she was estranged from her father, hadn’t talked to him in many years. When she was asked about her family she told people that her father was dead. It saved her from having to explain why they were estranged. She told me that she never, ever mentioned her father in the present tense, even when talking to herself or her spouse, who was one of the few who knew the truth that her father was still alive and actually lived in the same city. Luckily it was a very big city so they didn’t cross paths.
She was so consistent about her verbalization of him in the past tense that she really, truly forgot at times that he was alive. It convinced her of the lie.
Why do we do that and what do we get out of it?
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily
Quote by Malcolm Muggeridge, 1903-1990, English writer