Insights for the deeply romantic and deeply skeptical

Ambigamy: The Secret To Living The Good Double Life

Ambigamy: Being ambivalently committed, torn between the virtues of dedication and flexibility, devotion and skepticism, dependency and independence. And also the key to a sustainably amusing way of life. Read More

Hi I read your posts often


I read your posts often and really enjoy them. Re: the liar's paradox, when I saw how you phrased it 'It's true that I'm lying' it suddenly didn't seem like a paradox at all. It is indeed true that we lie!

Of course everyone quotes the 10 commandments as the moral case against lying but the commandment only forbids 'bearing false witness against your neighbor' meaning if you didn't see your neighbor steal your sheep then don't make that accusation. Hammurabi's Code.

As for what God thinks of it, he certainly rewarded Isaac for lying to his father and stealing his brother's birthright. If 12 wives could be considered a reward that is :)

Lying/deception to gain advantage or protection is not restricted to humans. Many species use subterfuge and various forms of trickery to catch prey or escape being prey.

Humans are no different. We use language to conceal, misdirect, obfuscate or just plain deceive but we judge the lies based on their outcomes for other people. For instance we have the phrase caveat emptor but we also have consumer protection laws to keep the lies from becoming just too ridiculous. Another example of ambigamy perhaps :)

Hi Anon, Great to hear from

Hi Anon,

Great to hear from you and great to hear that you read and like what I write. Makes my day to hear that!

To clarify about the liar's paradox, it's not a general comment on human nature. It's a very specific statement that could be said a few different ways:

This statement is false.
I am lying right now.

As such its got three qualities:
It's self referential: It's a statement referring to itself.
It's self negating: It contradicts itself.
It's has oscillating dominance, A over B, B over A, A over B, with

(A) It's true that
(B) This statement is false.

So at first A governs B: It's true that This statement is false.
Then B governs A: This statement is false: It's true that...

I hope this clarifies and if not keep asking. I write a whole lot about how we all lie, and I'm very interested in optimal illusion, how to lie for optimal ethical effect.

Stay in touch,


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Jeremy Sherman is an evolutionary epistemologist studying the natural history and practical realities of decision making.


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