Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Don’t threaten with Pinocchio’s nose.

I refuse to join in the verbal punishment of Tony Abbott for admitting that he sometimes tells untruths. My research this morning tells me that if a child confesses, I should thank him for telling me the truth. So thank you Tony for being so frank on the 7.30 Report. I understand that the academic studies show that if kids are only punished for lying, they will be more likely to lie in the future. Not for me to start telling you punishment stories like how Pinocchio’s nose grows longer when he lies. I’ve got the message that yarns with an ending that shows truth-telling as a good thing appear more effective at damping lying than fear.
So let me tell the Leader of the Opposition not to worry about the mock indignation this morning that has greeted his truthfulness about his lying. We the people understand because we all do it and we know that politicians are no different than the rest of us. Whether we’re two years old or 62, I read in the Wall Street Journal recently, our reasons for lying are mostly the same: to get out of trouble, for personal gain and to make ourselves look better in the eyes of others.
That definition seems to fit political lying pretty well. And I noted in that Wall Street Journal article that the ability to lie — and lie successfully — is thought to be related to development of brain regions that allow so-called “executive functioning,” or higher order thinking and reasoning abilities. That’s not a bad thing for a leader to have.
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