Why do children lie? asks a boring headline in an even more boring Big Bagel magazine article. According to the bores who wrote it, children are encouraged to tell white lies, hence they get comfortable with being disingenuous, and insincerity becomes a daily occurrence. ‘Many books advise parents to just let lies go — they’ll grow out of it — the truth, however, is, kids grow into it.’ Dr Victoria Talwar, an assistant professor at McGill University, is a leading expert on children’s lying behaviour. She tells the bores that lying is related to intelligence. ‘A child who is going to lie must recognise the truth, intellectually conceive of an alternate reality, and be able to convincingly sell the new reality to someone else.’ She has concluded that lying is a development milestone.
Well, I suppose Talwar reached her own development milestone when she uttered this drivel, because that’s all it is, absolute crap posing as academic gibberish. According to associate professor Taki, children lie in order to escape punishment or in order to brag to their peers. All one needs is common sense, the ingredient most lacking in high places, especially since modern ethics took hold. In my day, the first thing one learnt from one’s parents was that lying was bad. My German nanny used to tell me that hiccups were proof that I had lied. Invariably she was proved right.
What is fascinating is the ease with which politicians lie, and the way the so-called people forgive them for lying. Space prohibits me from listing famous liars, but one who stands out has to be Lillian Hellman, the American playwright who wrote The Children’s Hour, Little Foxes, and memoirs such as Pentimento and An Unfinished Woman.