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Lying by Comission

Part I:  Description

Lying by Commission: The Art of Intentional Deception

Lying by commission refers to the act of deliberately telling a falsehood to deceive another person. Unlike a lie of omission where you withhold information, a lie of commission involves fabricating a story or intentionally creating a false impression.

Key Elements of Lying by Commission

  • Active Deception: It's not simply failing to tell the whole truth, but actively creating a false narrative.

  • Intent to Mislead: The liar knows the statement is false and intends to deceive the other person.

  • Varying Severity: Lies of commission range from small white lies to major falsehoods with serious consequences.

Examples of Lying by Commission

  • Fabricating Stories: Making up entire events or scenarios that did not happen.

  • Exaggerations: Inflating details of a true story to make it seem more impressive or dramatic.

  • Manipulating Information: Presenting selected facts out of context to create a particular impression.

Why is it Important to Understand?

  • Erosion of Trust: Lying by commission breaks trust in relationships, both personal and professional.

  • Potential Harm: Lies of commission can cause damage when decisions are made based on false information.

  • Ethical Considerations: Many ethical systems condemn lying, especially when it intends to deceive.

Part II:  Common Questions

1. How is lying by commission different from a "white lie"?

  • Answer: While both are deceptive, the intent differs:

    • White Lies: Often told to avoid hurting someone's feelings or smoothing a social situation, with minimal harm intended.

    • Lying by Commission: Entails a more conscious intent to deceive for personal gain or to avoid potential consequences.

2. Are there situations where lying by commission is ever justified?

  • Answer: This is an ethical gray area:

    • Highly Debated: Philosophers have long grappled with this question, offering differing views on lying.

    • Rare Exceptions: Some argue it may be justified in extreme situations like saving someone's life, but the harm caused by the lie must be weighed carefully.

    • Generally Harmful: Most experts agree frequent reliance on lying by commission erodes trust and is socially damaging.

3. How can I tell if someone is lying to me by commission?

  • Answer: Be watchful for these potential signs:

    • Inconsistencies: Their story has holes, details change, or it contradicts other information.

    • Unusual Behavior: Deviation from their normal baseline, seeming overly nervous or evasive.

    • Gut Feeling: Often, something feels "off," even if you can't pinpoint an exact reason.

    • Be Cautious: Don't jump to conclusions, but trust your intuition and seek verification if concerned.

4. What are common reasons why people lie by commission?

  • Answer: Motivations include:

    • Self-Protection: Avoiding blame, punishment, or embarrassment.

    • Gaining Advantage: Achieving something they want, such as a job or to impress others.

    • Manipulating Others: Controlling someone's actions or influencing their decisions.

    • Pathological Lying: In rare cases, some individuals lie compulsively, even without clear benefit.

5. What can I do if I catch someone in a lie by commission?

  • Answer: How you respond depends on the severity and context:

    • Minor Lies: Sometimes it's best to let it slide, but monitor for a pattern of dishonesty.

    • Significant Lies: Confront the person calmly, expressing your concern about the impact of their dishonesty.

    • Repeated Lying: May necessitate setting boundaries or reconsidering if the relationship is healthy.

Part III:  Additional Resources

Books about Lying by Commission

Lying by Sam Harris: 

  • Offers a concise philosophical and neuroscientific exploration of lying, including analysis of why we lie and the potential harm falsehoods cause.

Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception by Philip Houston, Michael Floyd, Susan Carnicero & Don Tennant 

  • Provides insights on detecting deception, including lies of commission, based on interrogation techniques.

The Liar in Your Life: How to Tell if Someone is Lying and What to Do About It by Robert Feldman: 

  • Explores the psychology of lying, with focus on identifying the different forms lies take and their impact on relationships.

Websites and Online Resources about Lying by Commission

  • Greater Good Science Center (Berkeley): Search for articles on dishonesty, deception, or trust – topics closely related to lying by commission. (

  • Psychology Today: Search for blog posts and articles on lying, specifically exploring examples of lying by commission and the possible motivations behind it. (

  • The Art of Manliness: Often features articles around ethical dilemmas and building character, which may include discussions on lying by commission. (

Additional Options about Lying by Commission

  • Courses on Deception Detection: Some online platforms offer courses teaching how to spot lies by commission, focusing on body language and behavioral cues (Udemy, etc.). (

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    Udemy website

  • Research on Lying: Explore academic databases like JSTOR or Google Scholar to find research articles exploring the psychology and consequences of deliberate deception.

  • Ted Talks: Search for talks on topics such as ethics, trust, or the neuroscience of lying, which may touch on specific examples of lying by commission. (

  • Ethical Philosophy Resources: Explore texts or websites dedicated to discussing moral philosophy, where you'll find debates on the ethical implications of lying by commission.

Part IV:  Disclaimer

These results were highly selected, curated, and edited by The Nexus Inititiative. To make this amount of complimentary content available at a cost-effective level for our site visitors and clients, we have to rely on, and use, resources like Google Gemini and other similar services.

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