Jordan Peterson - Side Effects of Telling Lies (2023)


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Psychology Professor Dr. Jordan B. Peterson explains how the lies you tell grow in complexity and have unexpected outcomes that you cannot control in the long run.

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...So the blue Fairy shows up, so that's, Nature.

So, what I'm saying is, that Nature will cut kid's a break.


You think of Nature and the guise of..

well, their mother for example.

But even the biology of other people., Because we're, wired to accept behavior from children, that we wouldn't accept from other people., So, Nature will forgive.


She shows up, in her heavenly, guise, and says: "What's, going on?", and Pinocchio..

Again - because he's naive.

But also because he's, not good.

He's, not evil, either., He's, neither, or both.

It depends on how you look at it.


He also has no idea how smart he is and how smart he isn't, or how smart the person he's talking to is.

And, uh..., Instead of admitting what he's done.

He lies about it., And, that's interesting, because it does suggest, that he understands at some level, that he set himself up for this.


You know, he could just say-.

He could have just told the truth: "This, horrible, Fox..

kidnapped me, and sold me to this slave.

Holder.", Which, is..., true, it's, a lot more true than the story.

He tells.

He tells a story about some monster.

You know, a fictional monster.

He could've told even ¾ of the truth and have it worked.

But he doesn't, he just..


The story entirely.


This is the part of the movie that people remember.


and I'd edited this out for years.

When I was talking about this movie.

I forgot, why it was so significant., His, nose, grows, right?, And..., It-.

It grows to ridiculous.



Why is that? I think it was Mark.

Twain, [a.k.a.], Samuel, Clemens, I, think, who said: "One of the advantages to telling the truth, is that you don't have to remember what you said.", And, that- God, that's worth listening.

To, because..., *sigh*, So, there's, a bunch of things I've learned as a clinician.

And, one of them is, cause you're, often in really weird situations with people.

If you're a clinician.

Because things happen, that don't happen, normally.


You don't know what to do.

And so.

What I've learned, is I just say, what's, happening., Whatever, it is, regardless of what it is.

You know.

I'll, just try to describe it, as accurately as I can.

And not worry about - in some sense.

Not worry about the consequences.

You know, like I'm, not going out of my way to cause trouble, but..., If you're in a really..

And I'm, telling you, this can save your life at times.


If you're dealing with someone who's paranoid, who's, really paranoid., You do NOT lie to someone who's paranoid and violent.


As soon as you lie, you're aligned with the forces that are persecuting, them., And, they're gonna be wa- because paranoia makes people hyper-vigilant, like they're on amphetamines.

In fact.

You can make people paranoid by giving them enough amphetamines.

And you can make paranoid people MORE paranoid by giving them amphetamines., So, they're hyper-vigilant, because they feel that everything is predatory and against them.


So they're watching you, like you would not believe.

WAY more than you're watching them.


If you flicker a lie while you're talking to them, and they're, really on the edge, you- you're, done., So, it's, one thing to really know, if you're ever in a really bad situation.

And you don't know what to do.

You tell the truth minimally., Don't, disclose too much, that's, just another lie.

You, tell the truth, minimally, and carefully, and hopefully.


You MIGHT get out of it.

You might get out of it.

But if you falsify it..

Look, the hell out.


The truth is a real mechanism of protection in dangerous, situations., You know.

So if someone's trying to intimidate you, and you think they might get violent.

And they ask you if you're afraid, then - you tell them, that you're terrified and that you hope, that things will go okay.


You say..

*waves, finger*, I'll, give you an example.

One time.

I was in an airport, and uh..

We're in this lineup to fly back to Canada, that said, "International, Flights"., And, so, it's, a long lineup, like 50 people.

And we got a- I got about three from the front, there's still like 40 people behind me.

And the guy behind the counter decided, that he was just gonna shut down the line, and that we could all go to this other line, which was like 300, people, long!, And, I, suggested, that he..

not do that, because we'd been standing there for half an hour, and that he could just deal with the 20 of us that were left, and and, like, have a clue.


He called the sheriff, right.



This was down in Florida, and it wasn't that long after 9/11.


So these guys came up, and they were armed! And.

They came and said..

Looked at me, because of course, he told them that I was causing trouble.


I, wasn't.

I was just trying to not..



Would you say.

An, arrogant, bureaucratic scum rat take advantage of me.

So..., which is not the same as causing trouble.

So anyways.

As soon as the cops came up, I said, "Look, I'm going to do exactly what you tell me to do, right, now, and I'm, not gonna cause any trouble.

But I would like you to hear what actually happened." And so, that's, a good example of a situation like that., It's like.

If someone's got you, no bravado, it's, a very bad.


And I was going to do exactly what they told me, because you know..

They, didn't know who I was.

And, I, didn't know what they had been told., So, anyhow..., The problem with lying, is that it's a hydra.

And kids find this out very early.


You tell one lie.

And what happens, is it has one of the consequences that you expect.

Maybe you get away with it.


It has 3 or 4 others that you don't expect., And, so, it's, like it grows.


some complexity.


You have to tack a lie on each of those little "Complexity-O-crops".

And then they grow three more complexities.

And soon this little lie turns into a great big Ball of Lies.

And at some point, it becomes painfully evident to everyone.

And by that time, you're in such- You see this with politicians, like that guy who was sexting., Um..., [student], Anthony, Wiener., Anthony, Weiner, yeah!, Perfect name for him, man, it's.

So funny., I shouldn't, make that comment cause it's so obvious, but it's still funny.


You know, he..., That's exactly what happened to him.

It's, like..., It, wasn't, even so much.

The event.


You know.

People are stupid.

They make mistakes.

And actually.

The public is somewhat forgiving.

If you say: "Yeah, jeez, I'm, a real moron, and you know..

Like, really., Seriously.

How could I do that?, But, I, did, and like..


Try not to do it.

Again." But.

What happens with politicians, is..., (and I'm.

Not speaking specifically of politicians), is they'll make an error, and it gets exposed.

And then they make three others trying to cover it up.

Happened with Nixon, for example.


Then the whole thing just turns into a complete scandal.

And, maybe they could have got out of it at the beginning, by just - telling the truth.

It's like "Yes.

I'm, an idiot, you know.


Try not to do it again." Well, that isn't.

What happens in this case, and Pinocchio grows, this elaborate series of lies, and the Fairy is willing to be a little generous to him, because he's little and cute, and he's still a puppet.

And she tells him..

not to do that.

And that she's gonna give him a pass this time, but that she isn't going to be able to intervene on his behalf.



What are the negative effects in telling lies? ›

Lying also can lead to:
  • Depression and anxiety. "When people lie to avoid dealing with emotions or problems, the same problems continue to occur and get worse. ...
  • Damaged relationships. "Lies [hurt] relationships by damaging trust,” says Fitzgerald. ...
  • Shattered self-esteem.
Jul 14, 2010

What are three effects of telling lies? ›

Lying can be cognitively depleting, it can increase the risk that people will be punished, it can threaten people's self-worth by preventing them from seeing themselves as “good” people, and it can generally erode trust in society.

What are the psychological effects of being lied to? ›

They alter our reality, reframing it through the agenda of the person who doesn't want the truth to come out. Being lied to makes you feel insecure – your version of the truth is discredited. It also makes you feel unimportant – the person lying to you didn't value you enough to tell the truth.

Is it acceptable to tell lies under certain circumstances? ›

Even though paternalistic lies are often well-intentioned, if uncovered, they will usually backfire. Lying may be helpful when there is no ambiguity about the resulting benefits for those on the receiving end. But in most other circumstances, honesty is the best policy.

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