Quotations about   lies

Note that not all quotations have been tagged, so the Search function may find additional quotations on this topic.



If political loyalty is signaled by believing a true story, anyone can fake it. But believing ridiculous and outlandish stories exacts greater cost, and is therefore a better signal of loyalty. If you believe your leader only when he or she tells the truth, what does that prove? In contrast, if you believe your leader even when he or she builds castles in the air, that’s loyalty! Shrewd leaders might sometimes deliberately say nonsensical things as a way to distinguish reliable devotees from fair-weather supporters.

Yuval Noah Harari
Yuval Noah Harari (b. 1976) Israeli public intellectual, historian, academic, writer [יובל נח הררי]
“Why Fiction Trumps Truth,” New York Times (24 May 2019)
    (Source)
Added on 29-Jun-21 | Last updated 29-Jun-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Harari, Yeval Noah

If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer. This is because lies, by their very nature, have to be changed, and a lying government has constantly to rewrite its own history. On the receiving end you get not only one lie — a lie which you could go on for the rest of your days — but you get a great number of lies, depending on how the political wind blows. And a people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but also of its capacity to think and to judge. And with such a people you can then do what you please.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
Interview with Roger Errera (Oct 1973), The New York Review of Books (26 Oct 1978)
    (Source)
Added on 21-Jan-21 | Last updated 21-Jan-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Arendt, Hannah

In this decline of all public virtue, ambition, and not avarice, was the passion that first possessed the minds of men; and this was natural. Ambition is a vice that borders on the confines of virtue; it implies a love of glory, of power, and pre-eminence; and these are objects that glitter alike in the eyes of the man of honour, and the most unprincipled: but the former pursues them by fair and honourable means, while the latter, who finds within himself no resources of talent, depends altogether upon intrigue and fallacy for his success.

[Sed primo magis ambitio quam avaritia animos hominum exercebat, quod tamen vitium propius virtutem erat. Nam gloriam, honorem, imperium bonus et ignavus aeque sibi exoptant; sed ille vera via nititur, huic quia bonae artes desunt, dolis atque fallaciis contendit.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Bellum Catilinae [The War of Cateline; The Conspiracy of Catiline], ch. 11, sent. 1-2 [tr. Murphy (1807)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:

At first, indeed, the minds of men were less influenced by avarice than ambition, a vice which has some affinity to virtue; for the desire of glory, power, and preferment is common to the worthy and the worthless; with this difference, that the one pursues them by direct means; the other, being void of merit, has recourse to fraud and subtlety. [tr. Rose (1831)]

But at first ambition more than avarice influenced the minds of the Romans. Which vice however was the nearer to virtue. For glory, honour, command, the good and slothful equally wish for themselves. But the former strives by the right course; to the latter because good qualities are wanting, he works by tricks and deceits. [Source (1841)]

At first, however, it was ambition, rather than avarice, that influenced the minds of men; a vice which approaches nearer to virtue than the other. For of glory, honor, and power, the worthy is as desirous as the worthless; but the one pursues them by just methods; the other, being destitute of honorable qualities, works with fraud and deceit. [tr. Watson (1867)]

At first it was not so much avarice as ambition which spurred men's minds, a vice, indeed, but one akin to virtue. Glory, distinction, and power in the state are equally desired by good and bad, though the first strives to reach his goal by the path of honor, the second, in the lack of honest arts, uses the weapons of falsehood and deceit. [tr. Pollard (1882)]

But at first men’s souls were actuated less by avarice than by ambitions -- a fault, it is true, but not so far removed from virtue; for the noble and the base alike long for glory, honour, and power, but the former mount by the true path, whereas the latter, being destitute of noble qualities, rely upon craft and deception. [tr. Rolfe (1931)]

At first people's minds were taxed less by avarice than by ambition, which, though a fault, was nevertheless closer to prowess: for the good man and the base man have a similar personal craving for glory, honour, and command, but the former strives along the truth path, whereas the latter, because he lacks good qualities, presses forward by cunning and falsity. [tr. Woodman (2007)]
Added on 27-Oct-20 | Last updated 27-Oct-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Sallust

Indeed rhetoricians are permitted to lie about historical matters so they can speak more subtly.

[Quidem concessum est rhetoribus ementiri in historiis ut aliquid dicere possint argutius.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Brutus, sec. 42 (46 BC)

Alt. trans.:
  • "Orators are indeed permitted to lie about historical matters so they can speak more subtly."
  • "For it is the privilege of rhetoricians to exceed the truth of history, that they may have an opportunity of embellishing the fate of their heroes." [tr. Jones (1776)]
  • "Fabrication's certainly allowed when practitioners of rhetoric write history, to frame a point more cleverly." [tr. Kaster (2020)]
Added on 14-Sep-20 | Last updated 14-Sep-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Cicero, Marcus Tullius

Terrorism and deception are weapons not of the strong but of the weak.

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) Indian philosopher and nationalist [Mahatma Gandhi]
In Young India (22 Sep 1920)
Added on 28-Nov-16 | Last updated 28-Nov-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Gandhi, Mohandas

It’s one thing to be aware of complex strategies and lies that might be going on around you. It’s another to let yourself become so worried about deception that you become paralyzed.

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
Dragon (1998)
Added on 19-Aug-16 | Last updated 19-Aug-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Brust, Steven

The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.

George Orwell (1903-1950) English writer [pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair]
(Attributed)
Added on 15-Jul-16 | Last updated 15-Jul-16
Link to this post | 3 comments
Topics: , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Orwell, George

“They’re brothers,” said Zach, and you had to admire him, if only for his persistence. But it didn’t matter, because in an interview a lie can almost be as good as the truth. That’s because all good lies contain as much truth as the liar thinks they can get away with. This truth accumulates, and because it’s easier to remember the truth than something you’ve made up, it remains consistent where the lies do not. All you have to do is keep asking variations on the same questions, until you can sort one from the other. That’s why helping the police with their inquiries can take you all day — if you’re lucky.

Ben Aaronovitch (b. 1964) British author
Whispers Under Ground (2012)
Added on 30-Dec-15 | Last updated 30-Dec-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Aaronovitch, Ben

Lying is done with words, and also with silence.

Adrienne Rich (1929-2012) American poet, essayist, feminist
“Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying” (1975)
Added on 21-Oct-15 | Last updated 21-Oct-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Rich, Adrienne

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Benjamin Disraeli - lies statistics - wist_info

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) English politician and author
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Attributed by Mark Twain in "Chapters from My Autobiography" (Apr 1904), North American Review (7 Sep 1906): "Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: 'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'"

The phrase has not been found in any of Disraeli's works, and he is considered unlikely to be the originator (see here and here for more discussion).
Added on 14-Oct-15 | Last updated 23-Jun-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Disraeli, Benjamin

The more lies are told, the more important it becomes for the liars to justify themselves by deep moral commitments to high-sounding objectives that mask the pursuit of money and power.

Bertram M. Gross (1912-1997) American social scientist, academic, bureaucrat
Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America, ch. 9 (1980)
Added on 30-Sep-15 | Last updated 30-Sep-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Gross, Bertram

Have patience awhile; slanders are not long-lived. Truth is the child of time; ere long she shall appear to vindicate thee.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) German philosopher
(Attributed)
Added on 20-Mar-14 | Last updated 20-Mar-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: ,
More quotes by Kant, Immanuel

We begin by fooling others and end up fooling ourselves.

Eric Alterman (b. 1960) American historian, journalist, author
Sound and Fury: The Washington Punditocracy and the Collapse of American Politics, Introduction (1992)
Added on 7-Jan-14 | Last updated 7-Jan-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Alterman, Eric

The worst of all deceptions is self-deception.

Socrates (c.470-399 BC) Greek philosopher
In Plato, Cratylus (c. 360 BC)
Added on 10-Dec-13 | Last updated 21-Aug-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Socrates

It is more from carelessness about truth than from intentional lying, that there is so much falsehood in the world.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (31 Mar 1778)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
Added on 27-Nov-13 | Last updated 27-Nov-13
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: ,
More quotes by Johnson, Samuel

My father had a deep and lifelong contempt for politicians in general (“They tell lies,” he used to say with wonder, “even when they don’t have to”).

Gore Vidal (1925-2012) American novelist, dramatist, critic
“On Flying” (1985)
Added on 1-Jan-13 | Last updated 28-Jan-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Vidal, Gore

When the issue is one of Truth and Justice, there can be no differentiating between small problems and great ones. For the general viewpoints on human behaviour are indivisible. People who fail to regard the truth seriously in small matters, cannot be trusted in matters that are great.

[Wenn es sich um Wahrheit und Gerechtigkeit handelt, gibt es nicht die Unterscheidung zwischen kleinen und grossen Problemen. Denn die allgemeinen Gesichtspunkte, die das Handeln der Menschen betreffen, sind unteilbar. Wer es in kleinen Dingen mit der Wahrheit nicht ernst nimmt, dem kann man auch in grossen Dingen nicht vertrauen …]

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-American physicist
“Albert Einstein on Israeli-Arab Relations,” New Outlook (Jul 1957)
    (Source)

Often paraphrased / translated, "Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." See here for more discussion.
Added on 2-Nov-10 | Last updated 20-Feb-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Einstein, Albert

The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue.

Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965) American journalist
Speech, The Family of Man Award, The Protestant Council of New York (Oct 1969)

His last public speech.
Added on 3-Mar-09 | Last updated 15-Apr-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Murrow, Edward R.

The cruelest lies are often told in silence. A man may have sat in a room for hours and not opened his teeth, and yet come out of that room a disloyal friend or a vile calumniator.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Scottish essayist, novelist, poet
Virginibus Puerisque, “Virginibus Puerisque,” sec. 4 (1881)
    (Source)
Added on 2-Oct-08 | Last updated 21-Oct-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Stevenson, Robert Louis