Response to Looking for the Lie

Response to Looking for the Lie


ESL 111, 01

Professor: Loretta L. Clemente

Date: 7, 4, 2021

Lying is a key area of human life that defines social interactions and how people relate with one another. Lying is an intelligent process that forms the foundation of any civilization and it allows people to shape situations, opinions, rhetoric, and other social constructs that are important for human to human life (Henig, 2006). Social manipulation, the main foundation of lying and deception, means that people are attempting to make the best outcome for themselves or those around them. In this regard, I concur with Henig’s (2006) conclusion that lying is an important element of civilization and that there would be chaos if everyone was to speak the truth at all times. Lying is a way to survive, to protect the dignity of others and oneself, and to ensure that social interactions are protected through manipulation of information and facts.

Lying does not undermine the kind of trust that a society needs but instead ensures that relationships are protected, especially where positive deceptive motives are involved. Henig asserts that lying is a hallmark of maturation, meaning that it certifies one to be cognizant of the consequences of information and a need to manipulate facts to reduce unwanted outcomes (2006). For example, a simple lie such as responding I am doing fine to greetings reduces the need to get personal or to start explaining why one is not okay. In such a deceptive response, a balance is maintained, where formalities are kept without the unnecessary invasion to one’s private life or thoughts. The same applies to telling someone that they look happy just to cheer them up. In such instances, lying actually maintains the kind of trust a society needs to remain functional.

Deception should not be equaled to trust because sometimes people manipulate information so as to retain trust. As such we can expect all social institutions such as schools, hospitals, political institutions and businesses to operate without worrying about deception. For example, in a school setting, an instructor cannot just tell a student that they are poor in a certain field, instead, it is expected that they would manipulate information in order to motivate them to be better. The same applies to a hospital setting where medical practitioners cannot bombard a patient with negative information. At the end of the day, positive intentions are all that matter in human interactions and positive manipulation of information only means that one cares enough to protect the feelings of the next person.


Henig, R. M. (2006). Looking for the lie. New York Times Magazine, 47-53.