One of the ways in which we detect lies and liars

One of the ways in which we detect lies and liars April 29, 2009

is by how often they change their story and contradict themselves. So, for instance, C.S. Lewis remarks on the credibility of Christianity vs. its critics by noting that the Christian story is consistent (with minor differences of detail) while the various critical attacks succeed and contradict one another with “the restless fertility of bewilderment”. That’s because lies have the fatal flaw of not conforming to, you know, reality.

The test applies elsewhere too. Pro-abortion arguments are all over the map because pro-abortion arguments are lies that continually fly in the fact of reality. So when reality rears its head, old lies have to be discarded and new ones embraced. The lie “It’s not killing innocent human beings, and besides it solves problems” is at the heart of it.

At the heart of the pro-torture argument is the lie “We don’t torture, and besides it works!” “We don’t torture” is now thoroughly discredited as a lie. So now the emphasis is on “besides it works!” However, that too is looking more and more like it is a claim riddled with lies. Zippy remarks:

The claim in November 2007:

U.S. and Pakistani authorities captured KSM on March 1, 2003 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. KSM stayed mum for months, often answering questions with Koranic chants. Interrogators eventually waterboarded him — for just 90 seconds.KSM “didn’t resist,” one CIA veteran said in the August 13 issue of The New Yorker. “He sang right away. He cracked real quick.” Another CIA official told ABC News: “KSM lasted the longest under water-boarding, about a minute and a half, but once he broke, it never had to be used again.”

The claim in April 2009:

Today, Library Tower looms 73 stories above Los Angeles. But the Pacific Coast’s highest skyscraper might have become a smoldering pile of steel beams had CIA interrogators not waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) 183 times in March 2003, as recently released memoranda reveal.

My point is just that if we take the parameters “stayed mum for months” and “once for 90 seconds”, and measure how close that came to, you know, the truth – immediately and 183 times over a period of a month – that probably gives us a good idea how to properly calibrate the claim “… might have become a smoldering pile of steel beams …”.

And, in fact, we find that the whole “waterboarding KSM saved LA” story is a lie, given that KSM was captured *after* the plot was foiled.

In other words, a good rule of thumb is that if somebody lies once especially about something gravely evil, there’s probably a very good chance they will lie twice or even three times. That the tragic progression of sin in the human soul: if you torture and murder prisoners, it could lead to cover ups and even fibbing.

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