LIES, SO HUMAN, SO NATURAL
In an article written on December 9, 2008 under the heading “No borders exist for Racism, Sexism and Religious Intolerance” I described the human condition as encompassing the need for power, self-interest, hypocrisy and deceit. The recent incident involving the untimely death of Robert Dziekanski after being tasered by four R.C.M.P. officers in the Vancouver airport is a case in point.
The four policemen, after only a minute on the scene, exercised the power they felt they needed to take control of the situation. Mr. Dziekanski was a relatively big man, and they probably felt the easiest way to handle the situation was to use the stun gun. It appears the instant the four officers saw he was dead, they immediately began to fabricate a story. They would have to justify the repeated use of the taser on this harmless man to protect themselves. It was necessary to concoct a story and lie their way out of this untenable situation. The officer stated that Mr. Dziekanski was waving a stapler in a threatening manner, was advancing on the officers, which necessitated the repeated use of the taser. In fact, as captured on video, the
40 year old Dziekanski did not grab a stapler and wave it threateningly over his head, and he did not advance on the officers in a threatening manner. He fell after the first shot was fired and it was not necessary to wrestle him to the ground as they claimed.
When a situation is serious enough and the ability to verify facts is lacking, it is reasonable to assume that most people will lie to absolve themselves of guilt. Self-interest is a part of human nature. Who knows how far up the chain of command of the R.C.M.P. this fabricated story goes, because it appears that officer Millington, even when faced with evidence that he is lying, is sticking to the main part of his story. After all, it is his supervisors in the R.C.M.P. who will decide whether he retains his job.
No profession or calling is immune from lying for personal advantage. If policemen can lie, why not medical researchers? Is there any area greater than medical research, that demands complete honesty? Medical computer experts at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Centre, have developed a program that can scan reports for plagiarism. They randomly searched “Medline”, one of the largest on-line sources of medical research, and found 9000 duplicate articles attributed to different authors. Harold Gainer, the senior scientist in charge of the sleuthing effort stated, “it is definitely the tip of the iceberg”. Copying an article is bad enough, but the plagiarist does not know if the original research was done honestly, and the plagiarist may be perpetuating bad research leading to incorrect decisions by doctors who base their prescribing habits on false results.
There are other major problems. Investigators are looking for quick professional recognition, and need to compete successfully for research funding. Academic institutions, supposedly a bastion of truth, can have a financial interest in the outcome of a research project.
The Taliban was the government of most of Afghanistan before the Americans invaded and deposed the rulers. This government did not have complete control because parts of the country were ruled by local warlords, who paid their troops with money derived from the sale of poppy seeds (heroin), grown by local farmers. The Taliban, as the government, outlawed the growth of poppy seeds as they felt their religion, Islam, did not allow it. However when they needed money to fight the new government, they encouraged its growth in the area under their present control. Religious principles can be ignored when you need the money.
There is nothing more sacred to the Jewish and Israeli psyche than the remembrance of the holocaust where 6 million Jews were slaughtered. Holocaust deniers are considered outright anti-Semites when they state that the killing of the Jews by the Nazis is a falsehood. Israel has a strategic alliance with Turkey. The Turkish government wants Israel to use its influence on the U.S. congress to prevent the passage of a resolution recognizing the genocide of the Armenians at the beginning of the 20th century. Canada has passed such a resolution in parliament. Israel, desperate for an alliance with at least one Moslem country, hypocritically says nothing about the massacres. Yet the hypocrisy of Turkey is so apparent when Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, condemns Israel with charges of mass-killings and massacres of civilians in Gaza when Israel was protecting itself from missiles raining down on civilians, and the number of deaths cannot be even remotely compared to the 2 million Armenians slaughtered by the Turks
Much evidence suggests that we humans lie to one another with aplomb. Bella DePaulo a visiting professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, took a survey and found that college students told an average of 2 lies a day although most of the lies fell into the minor fib category.
There are many ways to practice hypocrisy, deceit and lying. It happens by telling a complete lie, a partial lie or not giving information at all when it is relevant. No race, religion or nationality is immune from all three when the stakes are high enough.