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clarice's avatar

Do you believe Honesty is the Best Policy?

Asked by clarice (244points) January 29th, 2010

What is the true nature of a white lie? And how much of it has to be true to be considered a white lie?

These are some of the questions I flip over in my head time and time again whenever I feel my conscience a’pricking.
I would say that my escapist attitude to certain things generate this habit of trying to weasel out of situations by not telling the whole truth.

Definitely not something that I’m proud of, but also something really hard to get rid of.

I’m sorry catechism class teachers, but I think dishonesty works better for me in several situations.

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27 Answers

ninjacolin's avatar

there are cases where lying is useful, for example to save your life perhaps.. but otherwise, my fear about lying is described this way: if you lie and receive a benefit, you’ve cut yourself off from knowing what the benefits of honesty would have been in that situation. cut yourself off from knowing whether the benefits of honesty, short term as well as long term, would have been more pleasant.

honesty has served me so well over the years, i don’t trust lying to do me the same rich justice.

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njnyjobs's avatar

Not 100% of the time . . .there are certain situations when a white lie is warranted if the outcome is generally better. This of course should be thought over at least 3 or 4 times making sure that making a white lie does not jeopardize anything bigtime if truth be told.

augustlan's avatar

When pondering whether or not to tell a white lie, ask yourself this: Who benefits from this lie? If it’s you, don’t tell it.

partyparty's avatar

If you make a habit of telling lies you need to have a very good memory, to cover your tracks if, and when, you are caught out.
For me honesty is ALWAYS the best policy.

Cruiser's avatar

Total honesty is a perfect world I have yet to encounter. White lies in general I think are a vital component of a healthy relationship skill set.

“Your dinner tastes wonderful”...“no you look great and even like you lost 2 pounds”...“I’d be glad to do that”....“No! I’m not mad at you!”

Bluefreedom's avatar

Almost all of the time, yes. If you can’t be honest about something, the circumstances should warrant a plausible reason why you aren’t being truthful. I’m honest to a fault and prevaricating is very difficult for me to do.

BoBo1946's avatar

A minister told his congregation, “Next week I plan to preach about the sin of lying. To help you understand my sermon, I want you all to read Mark 17.” The following Sunday, as he prepared to deliver his sermon, the minister asked for a show of hands. He wanted to know how many had read Mark 17. Every hand went up. The minister smiled and said, “Mark has only sixteen chapters. I will now proceed with my sermon on the sin of lying.”

TheJoker's avatar

As a general rule, I’d say it is. Although there are many scenarios when bending the truth a little would be understandable.

nebule's avatar

@augustlan couldn’t have put it better myself!! that’s an excellent motto to have on the subject…

partyparty's avatar

I agree totally with @BoBo1946. At some point you will always be found out if you decide to tell lies.

Trillian's avatar

Honesty gets me in trouble frequently but I can’t being myself to play political games of talk bullshit. My motto is basically, “If you want something sugar coated, go buy a doughnut.” Maybe I’m more blunt than I need to be, but I can never figure out how to NOT say what I think. My best option is to keep my mouth shut. Really. If you don’t want the truth, don’t ask me.

BoBo1946's avatar

@partyparty ditto my friend…one lie leads to another and on & on!

Silhouette's avatar

Honesty is the best policy, but lets face it, it’s not always prudent. If you tell the truth 100% of the time you’ll never get caught in a lie and you’ll also be quite lonely. All of us lie, we minimize them and call them “white lies” but they are lies. They are lies of convenience, compassion and I don’t think they are a bad way to go in many situations.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I’m going with what @augustlan says, ”Who benefits from this lie?...
I go further with thinking who benefits from telling every truth? There are some truths that don’t add a thing to a situation/relationship/friendship such as telling your partner details about your past sexual escapades/habits when they have no bearing on the present.

Example: A man takes his date to a restaurant and they are having a lovely time. She asks him how he found the place and he proceeds to tell her it was the favorite place of his ex girlfriend, how often they used to frequent it and that there’s a good chance she may be in there.
The better answer would be a little omission mixed with truth along the lines of, “this is a popular spot for this type of cuisine and it’s become a favorite of mine I wanted to share with you, I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself.”

BoBo1946's avatar

@Silhouette really…not what I heard!

jmmf's avatar

it would be perfectly hypocritical of me to say that honesty is the best policy since i don’t really practice that. i mean, its not like i’m involved in any swindling or illegal stuff. but sometimes, its best to just keep your mouth shut. i mean, if your friend asks you, do you think i’m ugly? what would you say if he or she really is ugly? i mean, i can’t be like, DAMN RIGHT YOU ARE. of course i’d have to twist the truth to try to up her self confidence and not squash down her self esteem.

augustlan's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence Brilliant addition! It definitely works both ways.

faye's avatar

White lies that saves people’s feelings are a good thing. Who needs to be told, ‘yes, your pimple can probably be seen from Mars.’?

YARNLADY's avatar

There are some who believe that not saying anything is the same thing as lying. My take on it is always find something nice to say instead of lying. “This meal is very colorful, thank you”, is not lying. You did enjoy the meal, even if the taste wasn’t the part you liked.
“That dress is stylish” is not a lie.

I hate lying, and I try in every case to find some other way of saying a truth, even though it is very difficult. There is no such thing as The Truth, but there are many truths in every situation. It is never necessary to lie.

Nullo's avatar

Well, blunt honesty saved me my job today, so there’s that.

@YARNLADY Excellent approach!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think it is always the best policy but there are situations when what I think matters less than what others will feel.

onesecondregrets's avatar

It is always the right policy and something to live by, but it is not always the best policy, especially concerning social situations and happiness. My heart has a hard time of realizing this sometimes and needs to learn to lie a little better. Well whatever the matter, my logic is it’s okay to lie if it’s not going to hurt someone.

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

Of course, if you want to get caught. lol

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

When I ask for someone’s opinion or clarification of someone’s meaning ,I want a truthful answer even if it is hurtful.I don’t want to have to decipher someone’s real intent or meaning.I love straightforward people.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Yes. However there are ways and there are ways to be honest, the best is to be honest with the least amount of hurt or embarassment.

Example: she says, “sweetie I really like this restaurant, how did you come by it?”
he says:
a “It was my ex gf’s favorite place, we came here all the time. In fact, there’s a good chance she could here right now”.
b “It’s known for some of the best cuisine of this sort in town and it’s become a favorite of mine so I wanted to share it with you, I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself.”

They are both the truth so which would you prefer to hear it?

kritiper's avatar

Yes, but some things are better left unsaid.

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