On Spreading Lies

Some people feel, when arguing,
It’s “win at any cost”
But lying to support your case?
You pretty much just lost.

Or spreading someone else’s lies
When you can see what’s true
We see the liar’s character…
What must they think of you?

So a while ago, I had a few visits from the local Jehovah’s Witnesses, who wanted to talk to me about evolution. They left me some pamphlets, which I promised to read, and in exchange I asked that they read a bit of Darwin, and told them they could easily find it online. When they returned, I told them I had read the pamphlets, and asked if they had done so as well. They had. I asked them what they thought of their pamphlets, and it seems they were quite impressed by them. I asked them if it bothered them at all that the pamphlets were full of easily shown lies and misrepresentations. This seemed to confuse them a bit, so I pointed out a few quotes that were taken out of context, put them back into context, and showed that all these scientists they were quoting were actually not in agreement with them in the slightest.

I asked whether they were aware of this, and told them that it was very important, because someone was being lied to. If they were aware, then they were lying to me, and I wanted them to know that I knew. If they were unaware, then they were being lied to by their superiors, and I wanted them to be aware of that. “If you have to lie to make your case, what does that say about your case?”, I asked. “And if your superiors think you are the sort of person who will happily spread lies to people, what does that say about their opinion of you?”

I told them I was very concerned that they were being lied to; I told them not to simply take my word for it, but to check out the contents of their pamphlets for themselves; most of them have been dissected online, so it’s fairly easy to do. Oh, and for the record, they had not read any Darwin, but they showed me another pamphlet that analyzed Darwin for them. As you can guess, the first quote was the bit about the eye, stripped of its context.

If someone lies to you in order to convince you, that’s bad. If someone expects you to spread their lies for them, that just might be worse.

For some reason, I am reminded of a recent youtube video that has been sending people here. It’s full of lies, where the truth is easily enough discerned, and I have to wonder who the author has less respect for–the people about whom he’s lying, or the people to whom he’s lying.


  1. machintelligence says

    You have more intestinal fortitude than I do in dealing with proselytizers. I politely tell them that I am not interested, and they go away. It is pretty much impossible to argue with them anyway, because as good little authoritarians, they know The Truth. If you seem to be making headway with your well reasoned arguments, they remind themselves “you shouldn’t argue with the Devil, he’s better at it than you are” and plug their ears and run away.

  2. Johnny Vector says

    And now with the internets, this kind of thing is so much easier. I just thought to myself what I might do if any JWs came to my door any more. “I should have a copy of Darwin around to show them, with appropriate bookmarks.” Then I realized I do. It took me all of 5 seconds to find On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection at gutenberg.org, and another 25 to find which of the 65 instances of “eye” in the text contained the entrance to the quote mine. So half a minute total. Surely the JWs would wait that long for me to show them.

  3. davem says

    Last time a JW turned up on my doorstep, I had a long chat (OK, so I was bored, and I needed practice). She was married to an atheist – that was a surprise – and she’d obviously been arguing with him, because she knew most of my counter-arguments. It still didn’t cure her delusion, though, even when I demolished all her ‘facts’.

  4. Nepenthe says

    My new Jehovah’s Witness “friends” are coming on Sunday to prove to me that there was really a global flood. They believe that there is incontrovertible geological evidence for this. I asked them if the geology professors at the local university would back them up. They said “Yes… well, some of them might think they know everything”, smirking at their own great knowledge and the foolishness of people who have spent their entire lives studying the real world when they could have just looked in the Magic Book and known the answer in five minutes.

  5. Cuttlefish says

    After three visits, when it became clear that they were active participants in spreading lies, not interested in change, I asked them not to come back. So far, they have not.

  6. Stevarious says

    Man, I never get interesting door to door religion salesmen. I’ve only ever gotten one, and he was a coward. The moment I told him that I was an atheist he booked it.

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