The Ladder of Truth-Telling

There’s a sort of Maimonides Ladder of telling the truth.

  1. The highest level above which there can be no higher, at least not for us mortal humans, is telling the truth as you see it and that is supported by an overwhelming preponderance of both empirical and logical evidence for it, whether it helps you, helps others, supports your views, or not.
  2. The next level of truth-telling is saying what you believe to be the truth and that has some empirical and logical evidence.
  3. The next level is making claims for which there isn’t much empirical or logical evidence but you find so compelling they just have to be true.
  4. The next level is only telling the truth when it benefits you or supports your position.
  5. Below that is saying things you know to be untrue in a good cause.
  6. Then telling untruths to benefit yourself.
  7. The lowest level is lying for the sake of lying.

As a society I think we’re stuck between #3 and #4.

5 comments… add one
  • steve Link

    A major problem is that many people no longer consider bragging and hyperbole as lying when it is done by our leaders.


  • Guarneri Link

    Barack Obama: the attack in Benghazi was due to an offensive YouTube video.

    Nancy Pelosi: This is Armageddon.

    Bill Clinton: Everyone knows my Administration was the most ethical in history.

  • Andy Link

    Well, I don’t consider hyperbole and bragging as lying. If that were the case Mohammed Ali would be the biggest liar of all time.

  • mike shupp Link

    Telling the truth only when it benefits you? Oh no, we’re well past that point. American culture in the age of Trump is caught somewhere between 5 and 7.

  • The definition of a lie is a knowing telling of an untruth with an intent to deceive. If bragging has no intent to deceive, it’s not a lie.

    Neither is wishful thinking. But neither are as high on the scale of truthfulness as telling the verifiable truth in the full knowledge that you have nothing to gain from it.

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