Why Lies, including White Lies, are NOT Okay.

Opinions on Debatable Issues #25

My grandma always tells me the Chinese proverb: “It takes bitter medicine to cure a disease properly, and it takes blunt advice to put us on the right track.” It is a truth borne out of experiences and I support it completely. Yet, many people in today’s society believe white lies are acceptable as they are used to avoid hurting other’s feelings. That is true, temporarily. A lie does not hold no matter how holy the intention is or how beneficial consequence it begets.


According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, a lie is a statement made by one who does not believe it to other(s) with the intention that the addressee shall be led to believe it. In other words, a person is not lying if he/she does not believe the statement is false or when he/she is solely talking to oneself or without an intended audience. The average American tells one to two lies a day, according to Greatist.

As we all know, deceiving others to get away with fault, a crime, or a responsibility is wrong and immoral. It is not okay when children lie to their parents to avoid criticism or punishments. It is inhumane when defaming or libeling someone for things they have never done for the gain of oneself. “Prolific liars are highly motivated to lie, if for no other reason than because they believe lying enables them to succeed in achieving a particular goal,” according to Kim Serota, a marketing professor at Oakland University. Thus, it can be concluded that most lies make people gain personal benefits that they do not deserve.

20 Ways to Detect a Deceitful Leader
Skip Pichard

Individually, being a liar makes you unwelcome by society. Though everyone lies, no one is going to trust or befriend someone who is deceiving. Liars are not going to have credit either, making their lives harder. On a larger scale, lies cause millions to suffer for decades or even longer. Race-based science is a great example. Through those scientifically-backed enterprises of the better genetic quality of white, some European races exploit and persecuted people deemed inferior. The ideology that created the holocaust was the false claim that the German race is superior to all others and the dire situation Germany was in after WWI was caused by Jews. This lie led to the death of 1.1 million Jews in the camps, and millions more in the battles according to History.com.

Even in the US, the perennial racism against African Americans was reinforced by the “scientific truth” that head shapes, in particular the jaw, establish racial hierarchy. By reasoning that Blacks had more savage and primitive traits, such as a large and strong jaw, in comparison to Europeans, white supremacists spread the false idea that black people are could feel less pain or no pain at all according to Gastov Jahoda, an Austrian psychologist, and writer who is an elected fellow of the British Academy. Many Black people are still being treated unfairly in the healthcare system due to this lie today according to a Journal published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

New poll shows Black Americans put far less trust in doctors and hospitals  than white people — The Undefeated
The Undefeated

Now lets’ discuss why White lies are not okay. The dictionary defines white lies as harmless or trivial lies, especially ones told to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Some people say that it is better to tell friends that they don’t look fat in their clothes when the friends ask to avoid making them feel ashamed. There are three flaws in this argument. 1) telling someone is not overweight when you think he or she is heavy is deceitful. You might be able to protect her feeling this time or the next 10 times, but a friendship build upon lies, albeit those with good intentions, is not going to last. Rather than maintaining a friendship by praising each other’s appearances insincerely, why cannot we tell them that we love and care about them because of who they are and not how they look? Tell your friends that the clothes do not fit them and that you can help them get a better one together reinforce the friendship. True friends appreciate genuine communications and transparency, not beautiful lies. 2) White lies are subjective and can cause more harm than good sometimes. For instance, if your friend is obese. To avoid hurting their feeling, you said they are not too fat. This might make your friends feel good at first, but then they face greater dangers, such as a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart attack, and many more diseases related to obesity later in their lives. For them, knowing the truth and start changing the current situation immediately is more beneficial than hearing a kind lie. 3) There are other ways that we can reply to the friends’ questions without lying or hurting their feelings. For instance, you can say that “every person’s body is different and I think commenting on others’ body is both disrespectful and meaningless, so ff you feel comfortable and confident with your body, then that is good enough. I support your choices.”

Telling white lies can be avoided (with these exceptions) - ABC Everyday

Some might say that the above example is trivial because the consequences of telling the truth are small, and white lies are necessary for critical situations. Sure, let’s say a girl is trying to commit suicide because she loves her boyfriend so much but he wants to be with another girl. Lying that the boyfriend is actually in love with her might save her life. However, this is only temporarily effective and deceitful at the same time. For one, the boy cannot marry the girl only because she is going to kill herself if he does not. No one has the obligation of giving up their own happiness and live for another person. As a result, the girl can do other crazy things that put her own lives in danger again, so the lie would not fix the problem. Second, if the boy was willing to give up his life for the girl (aka, be with her), from that second on, the girl will be living her life completely on a lie. There is nothing worse than that as it renders a person’s life meaningless. Instead, trying to convince the girl that the meaning of life if more than just a romantic relationship is more sustainable. Third, the white lie infringes on the girl’s freedom to exercise free will. According to exploringyourmind.com, “We have the right to make our own decisions about the things that directly affect us. We should respect other people’s decisions, just like they should respect ours.” If it is an individual’s choice to end their life, then we should respect that. And society is recognizing this precious right. Currently, physician-assisted suicide can be administered with the patient’s sole will regardless of the families’ approval, showing that it is an individual’s right to decide to live or die when they do not undermine others’ rights.

On free will: Daniel Dennett and Gregg Caruso go head to head – Science of  Singularity
Science of Singularity

Supporters of white lies have the false binary idea that, without lies, we inevitably hurt others’ feelings or loss our compassion/humanity. That is not true because we can kindly give suggestions or avoid making comments when we cannot sincerely compliment. Also, it is not always bad when you hurt others’ feelings. Guilt, sadness, regret, shame can motivate people to correct themselves and improve, pushing humanity a step closer to excellence. So objectively criticism is better than amicable lies.

Others argue fairytales and fantasy movies are lies. They are not harmful and they make our lives colorful and splendid. However, the definition of lies is false things said with the intention that the addressee shall be led to believe it. Since we already know those stories are fabricated or movies are acted out, we are not going to believe them to be real, which means they are not lies but purely entertainment.



Check out the other Opinions on Debatable Issues:

– Presidents should be allowed only 16 executive orders and 10 pardons in a term. https://mypathtowardsmindfulness.org/2021/01/23/presidents-should-be-allowed-only-16-executive-orders-and-10-pardons-in-a-term/

-Unions help workers obtaining better terms of employment, but what are their downsides?https://mypathtowardsmindfulness.org/2021/01/30/unions-help-workers-obtaining-better-terms-of-employment-but-what-are-their-downsides/

-Helicopter Parenting v. Free-Range Parenting: Which is better?https://mypathtowardsmindfulness.org/2021/02/06/helicopter-parenting-v-free-range-parenting-which-is-better/.

-On the whole, peer youth juries in schools are not effective towards helping juvenile delinquents.https://mypathtowardsmindfulness.org/2021/02/27/on-the-whole-peer-youth-juries-in-schools-are-not-effective-towards-helping-juvenile-delinquents/

-Iligalize Corporal punishment of minors in all homes and schools in America! https://mypathtowardsmindfulness.org/2021/03/13/iligalize-corporal-punishment-of-minors-in-all-homes-and-schools-in-america/

-The World Needs International Monetary Fund. https://mypathtowardsmindfulness.org/2021/04/03/the-world-needs-international-monetary-fund/

-Are Humans Inherently Good? I say YES. https://mypathtowardsmindfulness.org/2021/04/17/are-humans-inherently-good-i-say-yes/

-To Succeed, The Feminist Movement Must Address Toxic Masculine Social Norms. https://mypathtowardsmindfulness.org/2021/05/08/to-succeed-the-feminist-movement-must-address-toxic-masculine-social-norms/.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s