Black, White, and Blue Lies: How Can We Avoid Going Crazy?

How can we foster devotion to truth in an era of alternative facts and deliberate lies?

Lies come in three colors: black, white, and blue. Our pet cat tells a black lie when, with feathers sticking out of her mouth she says, "No, I didn't eat the canary." You know a white lie is coming when the wife asks her husband, "honey, do you think I look fat in this dress?" Selfish black lies are intended to avoid guilt; altruistic white lies are intended to make people feel good.

What is a blue lie? A blue lie draws a line between good and evil. Then, it puts the liar on the good side of the line. The lie depicts the one on the other side of the line--the scapegoat--as evil. Like the black lie, the blue lie fends off guilt. Like the white lie, the blue lie makes all those on the good side of the line feel good about themselves.

Writing for Scientific American, Jeremy Adam Smith, says President Trump tells "blue lies." "The Science of Blue Lies..." Blue lies support our loyalty to an in-group, facilitate our cooperation and even show care for those people we deem good. At the same time, blue lies foster hatred, dehumanize outsiders, and lead to self-delusion. So, when President Trump says repeatedly that President Obama ordered a wire tap on Trump Tower, he's attempting to foster hatred of Obama and group solidarity among his supporters. That's a blue lie.

Denial of climate change due to anthropogenic factors is a blue lie. It is an attractive lie because it maintains high profits for the petroleum industry and is alleged to keep people employed. It creates a social bond among those who benefit from the lie.

Scientists must rely upon accurate data. Journalists sleuth for truth in order to preserve a free society. People of faith want to believe only what is ultimately true. For the ancient philosopher Plato, to live without rational truth is mania; we go crazy. I don't want to go crazy. Do you?

For you who do not regularly read my blog, I am a fictional character in the thriller, For God and Country. I am a former CIA operative currently serving as a Lutheran pastor on the south side of Chicago. My doctorate from Michigan State University is in astrobiology and I give special attention to Society, Science, and Spirit.


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