This is Allan Sherman’s perceptive WHY LIES ARE BETTER THAN THE TRUTH (A SCIENTIFIC COMPARISON TEST),.from Rape of the A.P.E., his humorous and insightful 1973 social commentary on the American Puritan Ethic. 40 years later, current politics and commerce have made it more applicable than ever.
All Lies are designed to seem true. The expert liar carefully uses elements that seem probable and logical and are therefore easy to believe. On the other hand, The Truth is often illogical, wildly improbable and hard to explain.
Lies are more believable than The Truth.
The Truth is spontaneous, accidental, and unpredictable. Lies, however, can be planned in detail long in advance and are thus guaranteed to turn out as predicted.
Lies are more dependable than The Truth.
To be The Truth, an account of a given event must be completely accurate. This requires painstaking resourcefulness, expensive research, time-consuming attention to detail, complex logistics and thoroughness. In spite of all that, some people will believe it and others will not. A Lie will produce identical results without all the fuss and bother.
Lies are simpler than The Truth: Lies cost less than The Truth in time, money, and effort.
The Truth can be found anywhere; it belongs to anybody who finds it, absolutely free. Lies are custom-made, often by experts, and the best ones are highly polished works of art.
Lies are worth more money than The Truth. Have you ever heard of anyone bribing a witness to tell The Truth?
Great fortunes have been made by selling Lies to the public. The people who sell these Lies are often grateful to the gullible customers, so they endow libraries and universities and cultural centers.
Nobody ever made a fortune selling The Truth. First of all, as already stated, The Truth is free. The only people who will pay money for The Truth are people who are being blackmailed–and they are only buying The Truth so they can hide it before anybody else sees it.
Lies lead to libraries and universities, while The Truth leads to blackmail.
Take a thousand parts Truth, add one part Lie. Result: a lie.
Take one thousandth part lie, add one part Truth. Result: again a Lie.
Note that you can make a Lie out of The Truth, but you can’t make The Truth out of a Lie.
Lies are stronger and last longer than The Truth.
In reporting The Truth, a person must research the precise facts and stick to them exactly as they occurred. The liar can report the same incident without doing any research, merely saying whatever comes to mind and filling in details according to his fancy.
Lies are more creative than The Truth.
People are accustomed to hearing Lies all the time.
If you tell The Truth, people will think you are lying. If you convince them you are telling The Truth, they will become suspicious. Why is he suddenly telling The Truth? What is going on?
IX. Supply and Demand
In describing any given incident, only one version can possibly be The Truth, whereas the number of Lies possible is unlimited. Obviously, Lies are in far greater supply than The Truth.
There is a great demand for Lies, if they are flattering, if they build up one’s hopes, if they help one escape reality or if they promise health wealth, power or potency. Nobody is very anxious to hear The Truth. The only people who demand The Truth are those who are investigating something (lawyers, etc.)–and they only want The Truth to prove someone is lying.
Lies are the acceptable medium of exchange in our society. They are in good supply and the demand for them remains strong. The Truth is in extremely short supply, but even this tiny supply far exceeds the demand. Thus, in our society, The Truth occupies a position identical to that of dinosaur shit.
Lies are superior to The Truth in numerous ways.
Lies are more ingenious;
Lies make the world seem more pleasant;
Lies are less embarrassing than The Truth; and less frightening.
Furthermore, in such fields are diplomacy, statesmanship, merchandising, advertising, public relations and bookkeeping, The Truth is an out-and-out handicap.
In friendship, Truth is harmful; in love, it is disastrous.
My prediction is that The Truth will be phased out of our society, almost unnoticed, in less than a generation. It will become a curio like the two-dollar bill. Probably, there will be museums where samples of The Truth will be displayed for the benefit of curious children who want to know what it was like. One can only hope that the curators of these Truth Museums will have the good taste not to fake the exhibitions.
The Truth is that The Truth has become old-fashioned. It’s full of odd shaped little nooks and crannies, like so many old fashioned things, some people find them fascinating, but most people find them a pain in the neck. For those who care, it is a wonderful feeling to hold The Truth in your possession, to keep it and cherish it, never misuse it, then pass it along freely to anyone who wants it, giving it to them undamaged, unpainted, unadded to and unsubtracted from and every bit as glowingly alive as ever. To find all those joys in the handling of The Truth is a labor of love, but most of us in today’s society have no time for such things.