Alexander Pope once said that “he who tells a lie is not sensible of how great a task he undertakes; for he must be forced to invent twenty more to maintain that one”. Truer words were never said (or were they?)
Below you will find a list of the most common fibs spat our way on a daily basis. From fakery in our food to, brace yourselves, lying politicians, get ready to learn that some sentences are not quite what they seem.
10 You Have Bad Credit
Car salesmen don’t exactly have a reputation for honesty. Now, many car salesmen are hard-working, honest folk who don’t need to resort to tricking you. Some resort to using dirty tricks to bilk your hard earned cash.
It is difficult to single out just one common lie that is commonly told in this industry (given the vast number of documented tricks), but this little tactic is insidious, simple and very common, especially in the US and UK. It’s an easy way to easily squeeze more cash out of punters; “Bad credit? We’re going to need to hedge against the risk we’ll be taking – that 0% interest you saw on TV was for those with good credit. You’re gonna have to fork out 9%. Sorry about that”. Most people don’t know their credit score. So, what if you don’t have bad credit? Doesn’t matter, they’ll claim you have bad credit anyway and slap on a fee. Only those who know their credit score are safe. So, learn it.
9 A Bigger Splash
In the States, and some fancier neighbourhoods worldwide, the notion that one must have an ‘open house’ in order to gin up interest when selling one’s house is ubiquitous. Unless you let droves of people tramp their way up and down your stairs all the time, eating the cookies you baked and sipping on some free champagne, you aren’t going to sell your house. Many realtors and estate agents will tell their clients that this event must be done, often multiple times, if they stand any chance in offloading their house. Really?
Stats show that only around 6% of homes in the US (in 2018) were sold as the result of an open house. Pretty crummy numbers versus the effort required. So why do professional property flippers insist on arranging open house event?
An open house is a good way to flaunt one’s ability to arrange a flashy, ostentatious event ‘for’ their clients. This attracts other people to the agent, not the house. It’s a little like the free food and drinks at a casino – it’s free! Then you feel good, you gamble more. As the old adage goes—the house always wins. When the realtor tells you that your house has been sold, the illusion that the open house contributed is complete, because it isn’t questioned. You’re happy… and that shrimp po-boy you ate (that time you lost the company payroll at Vegas) was free too.
8 Selling Houses… Again
So, you’ve decided that getting swindled by a grabby realtor isn’t for you and decide to sell your house all by yourself. Good for you.
Get ready to lie a little.
Owners seem to be just as prone as members of the property industry to fib their hearts out just to get a sale. Sellers looking to offload their house will downplay (or just plain lie) about a variety of valid concerns a prospective buyer may have – “I don’t think you’ll need to do any repairs” means the ceiling is about to collapse. “It’s a wholesome, quiet neighbourhood with great community spirit” means gunshots ring out when the sun goes down. “Check out these original features”… that were put in two weeks ago. Before you get too judgy about those lying realtors, realise that regular Joes and Joeginas who are motivated to sell a large asset like a house are just as capable of lying as anyone else.
7 Fat Chance
Lies of omission are perhaps the most common lies told every day. “95% of scientists agree” leaves out the teeny fact that science is not consensus-led (thank goodness) but rather based on the aptly named scientific method. For a long time, medical consensus has been used as a useful mask for poor products and even harmful ones – “20,679 physicians say Luckies are less irritating. It’s Toasted!”
Low-fat diets have long been pushed on a gullible public, all on the assumption that people will continue to think “eating fat will make me fat”. Or is it to justify the addition of products made using staple crops like frankenwheat and corn to the farcically carb-heavy food pyramid? No, surely not! Look how many scientists agree!
6 To Be A World Leader…
…Is to lie your ass off. Not a single president in the history of the US has made it through their term without standing in front of the populace and lying. Trump? Clinton? Both Bush presidents? All the recent ‘leaders of the free world’ dropped some L-bombs alongside the real bombs.
Whether it be a Democrat like Obama claiming that “if you like your healthcare plan, you’ll keep your healthcare plan. Period”, or Harry Truman claiming that the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped on a military base called, erm, the city of Hiroshima, or equally shifty Republicans like Ronald Reagan claiming he had seen first-hand the liberation of concentration camps whilst serving during WWII (he was actually busy in Hollywood at the time) or Nixon (just Nixon), political allegiance is not a barrier to fibbing.
5 Sure, I Can Ride A Horse. And They Pay Me $150,000 For It Too… Then A Little Extra
Lying on one’s CV when applying for jobs is so common that it is barely even considered a lie – it’s just what you do, right? What about lying in an interview? Apparently, this is also quite common. Not just white lies like “Yeah, I just wanted to go in a different direction” when what you really think is “I hated my last workplace so much that I wanted to set the HR department on fire, didn’t do any work for 6 months and shat in my boss’s desk drawer on my last day”. Actors are famous for lying on their CV – skills like speaking other languages fluently, the ability to sing and dance or background in combat are par for the course on every actor’s CV, regardless of whether it’s true. But white-collar workers are just as likely to fib about knowing how to code, ability in various Microsoft products and even academic achievements, just to get the job.
Another very common lie told by jobseekers is how much they had been paid at their previous job. This little ploy is to try and ensure a higher wage from their new company – if you say you earned $22,000, the new guys will offer $23,000… you actually earned $2.50 an hour plus a bag of magic beans if you hit your performance bonus.
Speaking of performance bonuses, this seems to be the major lie that everyone just accepts. You did great, here’s some extra cash. The problem with this is that the payment is rarely related to actual, demonstrable achievements or goals met. It’s just extra money, probably to avoid complaints.
4 Epicurean Innovation, Snake Oil Or Actual Fake Foods?
We’ll start out with a whiter lie that is sold to us – ‘diet’ or ‘low fat’ food is ‘good for us’. In fact, this isn’t all that ‘white’ a lie when you consider the amount of sugar and salt that is to be found in these ‘healthier’ options. The reduced or lack of fat in any given foodstuff is a clever trick to convince you of the nutritional benefits – no fat in the food, no fat on your love handles. That’s not how food works. It is when you get some company shill, advertising spokesperson or sales rep extolling the virtues of one of these products that it falls into the ‘lie’ category. But that is more a lie of omission.
There are more direct lies to be found in restaurants, food stores and even hipstery, farm-to-table type places – what you’re being sold may not be what it seems. That wild-caught salmon could be a farmed salmon from Norway. That Parmigiano-Reggiano? A cheap knock-off from Argentina (or flavoured wood shavings if grated!) You want a prime piece of Kobe beef with truffle butter? How about cheap, low-grade American beef with a mix of margarine and truffle flavoured oil? Restauranteurs, chefs and food companies lie like this all the time. They are fully aware that the chances of some class action lawsuit based on a small price differential between the market value of the realm thing versus the fake crap they sell probably won’t occur, even if they are uncovered. Be careful what you eat, it may not be what it seems.
3 The Most Innocent Of Lies
Some people believe that God exists. Some people believe that this notion is a fantasy. But can we all agree that telling your kids that there is a giant rabbit that will leave egg-shaped chocolates in your garden is lying? What about telling them that a fat, white-bearded man is going to break into your house one night and leave presents under a tree if they’re good all year? When written like this, these largely harmless untruths begin to look more sinister…
Maybe the most innocent lie is also the most bizarre – the tooth fairy fallacy. Why on earth do parents see it as necessary to pay their children for each tooth that they shed? Furthermore, why is the idea that Tinkerbell’s cousin is the one who comes and collects it? As fun as all these primers to the notion of the mythic are, maybe we could do without the tooth fairy – short of implying that selling ones body parts for cash is a viable option, it’s unclear what the lesson is here.
2 Men Lie
When London’s ‘Science Museum’ surveyed a few thousand people to ascertain facts about their lying habits, they found that men will lie around 30% more than women. Men will tell around 3 lies a day, amounting to a whopping 1,092 whoppers a year. That’s a lot of bullshit, lads.
The poll also found that men lied to their mothers more than their partners. Lies like “I’m on the way”. “I had no (cell phone) signal” or “I’m stuck in traffic” suggest a lot of missed dinners with mommy. “I’m sorry I missed your call” suggests a lot of videogaming whilst their pockets vibrate.
When men did decide to play fast and loose with the truth when asked a question by their significant other, the vast majority pertained to their drinking habits – “I didn’t have that much to drink”. This suggests that, despite the subjective nature of ‘that much’, these guys knew exactly how much they drank. And it was a lot. Another beauty was “No, your butt doesn’t look big in that”, suggesting that the Science Museum mainly surveyed men from 90s sitcoms.
But who are we to argue? You can’t argue with the science… museum.
1 Woman Lie Too… Just Less
Before you go thinking that blokes are off spouting a lot of porkies to all and sundry, women have their fair share of commonly uttered lies too. More often, according to the same study in the last entry, women tend to lie about how they feel – “I’m fine” when she most certainly is not. They share a few common lies with their male counterparts – “I didn’t drink that much”, “It wasn’t that expensive” and, on receiving a gift, both sexes like to trot out “It’s just what I’ve always wanted”.
Although ladies lie less than men, as well as feel more guilty about the lies that they tell, both sexes returned a startling stat with regards to their habits in truth-bending; 75% of people suggested it was OK to lie to spare somebody’s feelings. One wonders if this is more a “No, don’t be silly! You’re not going bald” sort of thing or a “No, don’t be silly! I wasn’t the one who shot your parents” kind of fib. Both lies spare the other person’s feelings…
About The Author: CJ Phillips is a storyteller, actor and writer living in rural West Wales. He is a little obsessed with lists.