Tag Archives: Truth

Honesty Training: Three Kinds of Falsehood: Simulation, Lies, and Deceit

Exploring Your Mind Staff Writer,
March 2nd, 2020

Falsehood can come in many shapes and it isn’t specific to humans. This type of conduct can also be seen in animals.

Humans are natural-born liars. We could say that there isn’t a single person on Earth who’s been completely honest in every single moment in their lives. Humans can use different kinds of falsehood. Each has many levels, motives, and different consequences.

Morality condemns any form of falsehood. This could be a mistake because lying is part of human nature and the use of simulation, lies, or deception could be valid depending on the circumstances.

The concept of truth is questionable as well because it’s difficult to establish absolute truths about many things. Likewise, you can be so convinced about something and repeat a lie without knowing or understanding that it isn’t true. Meanwhile, it’s worth pointing out the relativity of morality.

“Truth will rise above falsehood as oil above water.”

-Miguel de Cervantes-

Putting on a mask is a simulation, one of three kinds of falsehood.

Different kinds of falsehood in nature

Humans aren’t the only ones who use different kinds of falsehood. Nature is full of examples of animals who use deception to fool predators or simulate behaviors to get something in exchange. They use falsehood as a way to survive.

When an animal stays still to go unnoticed in front of its predator, they use simulation. The same thing happens when they disguise themselves or go into hiding. The goal is to fool those that could harm them. Something similar happens when an animal wants to steal food and distracts its rival to get it.

Humans start lying from an early age and for similar reasons. It’s part of any animal’s nature to look after themselves. It’s a survival instinct. Thus, honesty is a learned behavior but it doesn’t mean the same thing in every society. In some societies, honesty becomes part of a pact for peaceful living; in others, lying is sinful.

Long nose representing lies, one of three kinds of falsehood.


Simulation is the less notorious of the different kinds of falsehood. In its simplest form, it’s about pretending. This implies bending reality to a certain degree. As with the other forms of falsehood, there are different levels of simulation. It can go from putting on a little makeup for a night out to the concealment of different aspects of yourself or your life, even taking on a new identity.

Why do people use simulation? There are many answers to that. Sometimes, people use simulation to appeal to others. Other times, they use it as a survival tool. For example, they try not to show fear against a rival. People can also simulate ailments for their benefit.

Lies and deceit

Although these kinds of falsehoods may seem similar, they have some important differences. Lying is related to verbal statements. You lie when you say something is true and know it isn’t. Deception is a wider concept. You can fool someone using words, but also with how you act or by creating situations that conceal reality. A deception involves a whole plan, whether it’s basic or very elaborate. In this case, there’s also a process of awareness-raising.

In human beings, simulation, lying, and deceit can be very sophisticated. What makes these behaviors morally wrong? Two things: motivation and purpose.

False friends, using deception.

A few years ago, in Colombia, there was a raid against the guerrilla where the people used deception, lies, and simulation. This raid helped free a group of hostages. Can this procedure be seen as “morally wrong”? In your daily life, you’ve probably asked yourself the same question.

Simulation, lying, and deception aren’t always morally wrong. Their motivation and purpose are what define their morality. Either way, you’ll gain more from examining these conducts, than from flat out rejecting them due to morality concerns.

In The Age Of Misinformation, Who Holds The Power To Categorize The “Truth”?

Mohamed Suliman
AUGUST 6, 2020

When confronted with basic information such as ”Boston is in Massachusetts,” for instance, humans readily limit feedback to “true” or “false.” This binary framework is simple and intuitive, but the world is far more complex, and humans require more nuanced categorical frameworks to determine the truth.

When technology companies and researchers go through the process of building and constructing frameworks for information categories, they are often prone to bias. Yet, companies obscure these decisions from ordinary citizens who eventually consume this information every day and ultimately shape their lives around it.

In Africa, where mis- and disinformation campaigns often go viral online, especially during politically charged periods, US-based tech and social media companies become arbiters of the “truth.” Millions of Africans use search engines and platforms like Google, Twitter and Facebook, who filter information through their own biased lenses.

To complicate matters, these tech and social media platforms, who act as main gateways for news and opinions — often adopt dissimilar frameworks to categorize information.

For example, Google, the giant of the search industry, has developed a feature to check viral claims by categorizing news using a scale of False, Mostly False, Half True, Mostly True, and True. Facebook uses a similar rating but instead focuses on False, Partly False or False rating in reports submitted to them. Meanwhile, Twitter recently announced its framework that has three categories Misleading Information, Disputed Claims, and Unverified Claims.

Fact-checking organizations differ radically in their categorizations.

For example, Politifact invented what is called Truth-O-Meter. While it follows the standard “true, mostly true, mostly false, false” rating, it also uses a “pants on fire” category for statements that are “not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim.” Snopes uses a very different method with 14 categories.

By contrast, Africa Check uses eight categories. To guide their decisions they rate statements of fact, leave the burden of proof with the speaker, focus on significance, use the best evidence available at the time and commit to updating information and clarifying mistakes when “new or better evidence appears.”

Meanwhile, Full Fact, a UK-based fact-checking organization, uses no categorization at all — leaving it for the reader to judge.

However, tech platforms who launch partnership programs with fact-checking organizations usually demand that their partners adhere to their categorization framework. For example, Facebook expects its fact-checking organizations to rate reviewed content according to its Facebook published framework. Over time, this results in the dominance of a single world view, making Facebook a central arbiter of truth.

Many other categorizations are published without sharing the rationale behind them, yet everyday users are asked to adopt and adhere to them. When platforms change these categorizations, based on the views of a few experts or engineers, society is expected, again, to adapt and update their worldviews accordingly.

Researchers have attempted to find solutions to the convoluted problems of information categorization. Claire Wardle, a known scholar in the field, created a categorization of seven types: satire or parody, misleading content, imposter content, fabricated content, false connection, false context and manipulated content.

And Bill Adar, a professor at Duke Reporters Lab, has taken a unique approach to information categorization with his MediaReview Taxonomy, which engages a democratic deliberation process to categorize information through public feedback.

But categorization is not a mere technical issue — it deeply influences how citizens think and reason about the world. Cognitive scientists have shown the importance of categorization, with some who argue that “to cognize is to categorize.”

Others warn of the danger of categorization. Derek Cabera, professor at Cornell University, wrote an essay called, “The dark sides of categorical thinking.” Bart de Langhe and Philip Fernbach penned a Harvard Business Review article titled, “The danger of Categorical Thinking.”

The categorization of information is the real authority — but in disguise. Those who hold the power to categorize information can, unwittingly, impose their own perceptions of reality onto citizens.

Categorization of information is an irrefutable necessity, but citizens must remain vigilant in terms of who holds the power to do it.  The process of categorization must be transparent, and indeed, subject to constant rational and open scrutiny by society.

Source: Global Voices