Lying and Dissembling


John Wright


If we were sitting in a courtroom during a trial and we heard a lawyer question a witness we might learn a few of the standard tricks lawyers use to win cases. One way to discredit a witness, and thus convince a jury to discard all of the testimony of that witness, is to ask questions that provoke confusion or uncertainty. If the witness does not demonstrate consistency, clear memory, or even common sense, or is perhaps a defendant knocked off balance emotionally by the hectoring of a prosecutor then the jury may later decide to discard all of the individualís testimony as unreliable. But the finest, most damning way to destroy testimony is to attack the character of the witness by getting the witness to lie or even appear to lie about some detail, no matter how minor. When the lawyer then presents evidence that disproves a part of the testimony, the juryís later summary response relative to deliberations is pretty much assured. After all, you canít trust a liar, right? Liars should be discredited and discarded, right?

So we have witness incompetence (simple honesty) on one hand and unreliability or lack of trust on the other. The assumption the lawyer wants to embed in the minds of the jury is that one or more errors of uncertainty or possible evasiveness or apparent or likely lying discredits the witness entirely. Thus, even if ninety percent of the testimony is accurate, the inaccurate or uncertain ten percent is the basis to have all the testimony discarded, at least in the minds of the jury, for how are the jury members to know that the ninety percent is true? Even better, if the witness in the past in an entirely unrelated matter was convicted of a crime of theft or embezzlement then the lawyer can present and focus on that event as a direct means to discredit the witness by character assassination. The idea is obviously "once a cheat, always a cheat." That may or may not be true in the specific circumstances of the later trial, but jury response is reliably negative.

What we need to think about is the legal process and the incentives and rules for all parties. For example, the lawyer was engaged to win the case, so such evidence as the lawyer decides to present to support his goal is unlikely to contain evidence of which he is aware that could cause him to lose his case. At one level that makes complete sense. At another level it is obvious dissembling, in that the formal swearing in demand on the witness for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, is specifically, intentionally avoided by the lawyer, and that applies to prosecution as well as defense lawyers. The lawyer may not lie directly but he can and will essentially misdirect the jury to consider only or mostly what he wants so that he wins the case. Note also that the lawyer is not put on the stand and questioned about any additional information pertinent to the case. This is true, of course, for both prosecution and defense, which leads to a very interesting problem.

Does justice prevail? Does the side that is right win? Has essential evidence been excluded by either lawyer or even the court/judge as inadmissible, or is the presented evidence scant, ergo circumstantial? Due process and the formal definition of justice as used within our legal systems does not guarantee or even argue that the right side will win. What we have is a juryís conclusion about truth, which may be right on target or far wrong in accuracy, due to inherent weaknesses in the process and in the jury. We know not what the jury will decide except in the most mundane or obvious trials, which hardly require a jury to decide anything. An exception is jury behavior for criminal charges that are repulsive to jury members and to the public at large, like rape, and then conviction rates skyrocket with or without substantive evidence.

Many crimes do not result in jury trials. For example, a policeman catches a thief committing a crime or otherwise acquires essentially perfect evidence of the crime and its highly probable attribution to the individual defendant. If there is a later trial the outcome is certain. In other circumstances, like the rape example above, the outcome is fairly certain regardless of the presence or absence of hard evidence. Thus we have the world of the plea agreement, where trial outcome is deemed by both parties to be a certainty, regardless of the accuracy of the charges, so public monies are saved through bypassing the trial.

There are many facets of the legal system that could be examined in this article, but the preceding material was prepared only to make the point that lying and dissembling are built into our society all the way up through our court systems, including the lawyers who are in fact officers of the court. The lying and dissembling does not stop there. It continues in fully expanded less controlled political environments all the way from town councils up to the presidency. It is also endemic in businesses relative to how they represent themselves to society versus what they do illegally or immorally that the public is never to learn.

Letís segue into the world of the larger society, and observe multiple categories or sources of lying and dissembling, from advertising, to political posturing vs. actual voting, to corporate destruction of the environment and the livelihood of unsuspecting citizens, to media news.

First, as 2010 midterm elections are less than a month away, I want to draw your attention to a mind control practice that is legal and compelling. But first an historical example is necessary to make my point. Back in the 1950ís in the early days of television advertisers were experimenting with commercials in creative ways. If my childhood memory is correct, one in particular involved the marketing of one Blatz® beer. Psychologists had earlier discovered that subliminal mind control could be accomplished by flashing a message on a television screen for an interval of time so short that the individual had no conscious awareness that the message had even been presented. That is to say, the conscious level of absorbing and reflecting on information was bypassed. It was bypassed very effectively as sales of the beer skyrocketed, and competitors upon learning what was done quickly cried foul. A law was passed prohibiting the practice in television advertising.

Now, think about the roadside signs telling you to vote for a candidate. They tell you nothing of substance about the candidate other than the name in large bold letters, and perhaps the office in much smaller letters. (As an aside, note this time around the scarcity of named party affiliation, as the general public is so pissed off with republicans and democrats). The repetition via plastering the signs beside so many streets, roads, highways, etc. absolutely has subliminal impact on your decision process, for all the wrong reasons. You do not consciously acknowledge the sign content beyond the first time you see it as it is familiar. But the endless repetition subliminally embeds the name in your memory such that your later voting booth behavior is pretty much predetermined, based on who was most effective in getting their name into your subconscious mind. In part it is sheer number of signs for a given candidate. In part it is creative use of colors and design. Overall it is legal to do this when we already knew back in the 1950ís that human reasoning was overpowered by subliminal messaging. And consider the obvious effect on candidates lacking a budget large enough to compete with overwhelming sign presence.

Can I reasonably call the above practice of using the signs to promote candidates for political office lying or dissembling? Are the signs not true? Well, what you have to do is think again about the lawyer in the beginning of this article, who does not directly lie, but who relies on subliminal as well as direct value stimulation of the minds of the jurors. His purpose is to win by presenting only information favorable to his client and/or destructive to the opposition. His effectiveness in so doing is his job and the primary reason why he was hired. That the wrong side may win is not allowed as a consideration, external to the jury deliberation, for it is the process itself that is held sacrosanct. It is the same with the elective process. The signs are simply an insulting way of performing mind control, and as such must be considered to be dissembling, for conscious reasoning about the worth of the candidate is bypassed.

What we do know and can prove with little to no effort is that lying and dissembling are an integral part of the reality of life across the larger society, which is irritating because it seems ridiculous to speak of the false or the misleading as reality. The claims are not reality in an absolute sense, but in real life their impact is real. This means that the thousands of relatively unimportant cases that go through the criminal and civil legal processes, which tend to affect only a small number of individuals, are but a tiny part of the world of lying and dissembling. Indeed, were I to hazard a guess, Iíd have to say that at least 99% of all lying and dissembling that hurts people occurs in environments where no civil or criminal charges are likely, as in the Congress or in a very large business.

In the case of a business, such legal violation charges as do occasionally occur result almost always in nothing more than fines, which is a typical punishment for a misdemeanor, not a felony. The corporation absorbs the small cost, relative to its assets, and the individuals directly responsible escape all punishment. After all, the corporation, while legally having the rights and responsibilities of an individual, cannot be put into prison! Isnít that amazing? Once in a while there are cases like Enron® where the top management committed and failed to hide obvious crimes that then led to indictments and convictions and jail time, but only because the business failed. Those few examples like Enron® are used to infer an environment of justice in the USA, but they hardly scratch the surface of deceptive and harmful practices across business/government. Simply think about Monsanto® and their efforts to buy and control exclusively, use of plant genetics and the future business advantages so gained. Or think about Goldman Sachs® taking massive numbers of leases for lands dedicated by the federal government to private development of solar power, and sitting on those leases doing no development, for rather obvious reasons.

Civil servants like prosecutors and "public servants" like legislators cannot be sued or taken to court on criminal charges for executing their government jobs within "legal" bounds. That is true even when gross violations of their moral responsibility result in serious damage done to innocent individuals (and indirectly to their families), for the prosecutor, or to the public at large, for the legislator. For example, the advent of DNA testing has caused various prisoners falsely accused of hideous crimes to be released from prison, which in turn has caused some governors to strike down capital punishment laws as a matter of conscience. And, as for the prosecutors responsible for the false charges, what price do they pay for destroying the lives of innocent people? Thus, freedom to lie or dissemble without significant consequence is built into our society through its institutions, government and business. Hmmm Ö this is not a new problem. The USA has fundamental structural faults in government, and then laws that result in destructive practices, that must be remedied. Do you doubt the past role and effects of permitting lying and dissembling?

A few words about dissembling in the media, in news or advertising or political talk shows are appropriate. Count on it. If you believe what you hear and see to be objective and/or complete, or necessarily truthful, you are a dupe.

I could expand article coverage to religions and educational institutions, but that is unnecessary as you the reader can compare and contrast what happens in those environments if you so choose. My goal is to hit hard those areas of our society that are the worst in terms of damage done to individuals and to the larger society.

It is time now to take a hard look at government and corporate liars and dissemblers, for our quality of life in the USA has taken a real hit with the damage done to the economy and to the environment. As you can tell from my earlier Blatz® beer example, I am most interested in this article in pointing out the psychological components and damage done to the citizenry from being inundated with continuous lies and dissembling. The idea is that after a certain point, after a certain continuous level of unreliability from leaders, the individual is severely disempowered, weakened and caused to believe and behave in ways that are ultimately self destructive, like learning to lie and dissemble. At the very least, much of the opportunity to achieve personal success, honestly, has been stolen by the very people who have had the power to do the opposite, and who were and are by definition through granted privilege (charters or elective office) responsible for so doing.

Thus it is that my anger was piqued when I first heard the corporate excuses for offshoring jobs. To point, the corporations claimed that it is an expected part of capitalism to seek the lowest costs in order to provide a quality product at a price lower than that of the competitors. The idea is that cost efficiencies improve profits and lower selling prices and thus help or improve the lives of the people, for reinvested profits lead to new and even better products, and more jobs. Sounds good. But there is one little detail missing Ö that of the domain of the chartered corporation, and to whose benefit the existence of the corporation is supposed to act. Is it only the investors? If so there is no moral obligation to provide employment to any population base that would increase cost. This is then true regardless of the history of the chartering and start of the corporation or automatic provision of the market available to it to allow it to do business, by virtue of where it got started, and to grow and yield profit for investors. In short, there is no implied or required loyalty to community, state or nation or anyone within, excepting investors.

Therein is the crux of the problem. If loyalty is strictly to investors then why should the corporation be allowed to conduct any business within the country of origin? That little detail roars! And no one is talking about it publicly. Corporations that grow to be large achieve massive financial power. If that power is unmanaged, external to the corporation, the corporation then functions as a self-serving government (Yes, of course I wrote about this very problem in my book, Destiny, more than 12 years ago!). If the pursuit of lowered costs through legislation (NAFTA, etc.) then undermines on a large scale the populations economic security where the corporation was chartered and also does business, then the corporation has knowingly committed a destructive act. As of today, such actions are perfectly legal Ö disgustingly legal and that is the issue Ö control of the impact of the corporation(s) on government and on society as a whole.

In the past, populations and businesses in the USA were protected by tariffs on goods produced external to the country, such that the overall economy would not be harmed by external/foreign businesses or governments. That simply meant that any import with a low-balled price was subject to a tariff, the size of which would keep the import from destroying existing businesses within the country. It was called protectionism, and so it was, and that was and is the responsibility of government to the people. It contained opportunism external to the USA that would harm USA inhabitants.

With the advent of globalization of the 1980ís and of free trade agreements of the 1990ís and beyond, all the job protections afforded to the USA population via tariffs were destroyed. Those moves, which required federal government complicity, allowed corporations to invest in foreign countries, take advantage of cheap labor and thus offshore USA jobs, yet import cheaper goods into the USA and make major profits without concern about tariffs. This had the obvious effect of a snowball rolling downhill, where any competitor that didnít jump on board the offshoring process was destroyed by price competition, which further destroyed the USA job market.

What surfaces is the reality that the corporations and the federal government lied and dissembled about the benefits of globalization and free trade agreements by failing to acknowledge the damage to be wrought to citizens within the USA. It was and is that lying and dissembling, and the present and future effects of it as seen in our economy and our high unemployment rate, that are the basis for forcing a complete change of government within the USA. This must be combined with severe financial and prerogative penalties for corporations that engaged initially in the offshoring process. So far all we see is the Tea Party candidates, and the election outcomes in the states where they are running for office will be most interesting, for the true battle is between the power and wealth of the established parties and their funders versus the anger of the populace for the destroyed economy/job market.

One might think of the Tea Party creation as yet one more attempt to work through the established political process to remedy poor government. It may or may not work. The Tea Party candidates are not necessarily any improvement, and in saying that I am being very kind. If it fails and the economy continues to worsen expect other harsher "remedies" to begin. But regardless of what happens to remedy our economic problems down the road it is completely clear that crimes have been committed and perpetrators must be punished, regardless of the immorality captured in laws and government policy that allowed our own businesses to destroy us, "legally."

The overall premeditated processes leading to destruction of jobs within the USA were/are treasonous deception of the highest order, which means capital crimes were committed against the unwitting and powerless common citizens of the USA. Hundreds of individuals in high positions in business and government must be identified, prosecuted by trial (ah, due process!) and executed when found guilty, for that is the price to be paid for committing a capital crime. This atrocity must never be allowed to repeat, and the only way to correct it now is to remove all power and privilege from the business and government perpetrators. An unforgettable example must be set that will serve as the basis for future generations of USA citizens to contain the damage wrought by the very businesses that are responsible to the citizens to act in ways to uplift, not destroy, life in the USA.

For the moment our problems are becoming even larger. The dollar devaluation and increased income taxes on individuals, and potentially a regressive VAT tax after the elections, and finally the impact of high inflation and asset (home) devaluation, simultaneously, let us know that life as we knew it is over.

We need a new national paradigm/restored morality regarding lying and dissembling, donít we? After all, you canít trust a liar, right?