What if everybody lied? If nobody lied?

I should rephrase: What if truth weren’t central to society? Word could never be counted upon, so would human communication be worthless? How would this sans truth dystopia differ from our society?

On the other hand, what if nobody lied?

What planet do you live on? Since when has truth been central to … anything?

If the truth were completely independent of what somebody uttered, language would essentially not exist.

Without efficient sharing of information, we’re no better off than chimpanzees. So, no civilization.

If nobody lied, I don’t think it would be pushed nearly to the amusing extreme of the film The Invention of Lying, in which everyone just said whatever was on their mind.

But if truth were completely independent of conversation, and you couldn’t believe anything anybody said… what would be the point of speaking?

  1. Nobody would believe anybody.
  2. Everybody would believe everybody.

Everything I say is a lie. I am lying right now.

OK, seriously.

Everybody lies - We would all just believe the opposite of what somebody said.

No-one lies - We would believe everybody at face value.

So actually, either way life would be a little bit simpler.

As for “what if nobody lied?”, there was a movie about this. The Invention of Lying. I enjoyed it.

That wouldn’t get us very far, though. If a man who never tells the truth said “I’m a doctor” then we would know he wasn’t actually a doctor, but wouldn’t know what his profession is. And how about a more complex statement, like “I’m a doctor from Boston”? There are three different ways that statement could be false: he’s a doctor but not from Boston, he’s from Boston but not a doctor, or he’s neither a doctor nor from Boston. If we could question him we could pin this down (“So you’re from Boston?”), but actually establishing what the truth is could take a long time.

If nobody lied I would have to remain mute if my wife asked me anything about her hair. Or maybe she would learn not to ask.

Although most people don’t lie all the time, I assume that everybody might be lying. What really bugs me are people who believe their falsehoods. E.g. most conservatives.

One of my favorite movies.

If everybody always lied, then he would neither be a doctor, nor from Boston. But you do make a good point. What is he actually then?

So, you’re a doctor?
OK, not a doctor. Do you have anything to do with medicine?
OK, nothing to do with medicine. Do you flip burgers?
Ah, a burger flipper. I am not hungry. I do not want you to make a cheeseburger.

Maybe it would be more complicated than I first thought.

If nobody lied, the birth rate would plummet.

Yes, I’m being cynical.

Does any woman really want an honest answer to “Does this make me look fat?”

Forget Judge Judy - the fun would ne over in Divorce Court.

Do women still ask that? I’ve thought for long time now it was just a TV/movie trope.

Does this make me look fat?
No. It’s your cellulite that makes you look fat.

Everybody lies. But it’s OK, because nobody listens.

Great line. I forget who said it.

If nobody lied, there would be no fiction. And not much in the way of tact.

You could do a lot with half-truths, switching subjects, being silent and other conversational tricks and still be tactful even if you wouldn’t be able to actually lie. Could be interesting.

Everything being a lie would turn communication into meaning noise, which wouldn’t be interesting at all.

Not really the same thing. I’m only telling a lie if what I say is untrue, I know this to be the case, *and *I expect you to believe in it.

I wonder if the inability to lie would cover all types, like lies of omission and truthful but misleading statements, or if it would only be the ability to not tell a bald-face/barefaced lie.