A Taxonomy of Political Lies

Kent Kroeger
14 min readApr 2, 2018

By Kent R. Kroeger (March 28, 2018)

“It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.”
― Noël Coward

In the 2016 election, many people thought President Donald Trump was honest, or was, at least, selectively honest.

“He says it like it is — he doesn’t speak out of both sides of his mouth like other politicians,” a Trump supporter told me as he waited for Trump to arrive at a Des Moines, Iowa campaign rally early in the 2016 presidential campaign.

What he was describing was more Trump’s off-the-cuff, rambling speaking style, not his honesty. Nonetheless, relative to other politicians, Trump was a refreshing change of pace to many voters.

Voters know politicians lie. They even understand why on some level. We all lie over the course of a lifetime for various reasons: to protect someone’s feelings, to motivate people, to avoid a conflict the truth would otherwise ignite, or to hide our own mistakes, misdeeds, or inadequacies.

It is human to lie.

“To keep society running smoothly, we need to tell white lies,” says Dr. Paul Seager, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire (UK). “We all lie and those who say they don’t are probably the biggest liars of all.”

But not everyone that studies deception and lying agrees with Seager’s conclusion that it benefits society or that all people are predestined to be liars.

“We are not born liars,” says Dr. Roland Losif Moraru, a psychologist from the University of Petrosani (Romania). “There are lots of reasons that could motivate people to tell lies, and even though each reason might be different than the other, all of them stem from one root cause which is being unable to bear the consequences of telling the truth.”

“Lack of courage, lack of problem-solving skills and lack of the ability to properly handle unexpected events may make escaping from a situation a much better option than facing it,” says M. Farouk Radwan, author of How to Make Someone Fall in Love with You. “Consequently, lying is the combination of being unable to face the results of honesty and the lack of proper values.”

Kent Kroeger

I am a survey and statistical consultant with over 30 -years experience measuring and analyzing public opinion (You can contact me at: kroeger98@yahoo.com)