Erik Naggum's Ideas and Principles

Small and Big Lies

If a lie is obvious, people will understand it right away, or as soon as they try to act on it, tell it to someone else, etc. This makes big lies harmless; they can even safely be used as humor. In contrast, small lies are capable of serious, long-term damage, and even if it is uncovered, people may have based too much on them to be able to correct it. In a sense, small lies may become truth because people act as if they are. This is why they must be stopped, and stopped in time. Stopping a small lie may require much effort, especially in alerting the complacent masses of its falsity, but stopping it now will require less effort than stopping it later, especially if it spreads.

This is not unlike how we deal with physical dangers. If a substance is known to cause death, it will be withdrawn, banned, or criminalized only if it does so sufficiently fast. A substance that kills a person 30 to 50 years after starting to use it daily, may, at most, not be sold to children. A substance that kills immediately will be subject to intense reactions. This is why smoking can continue to kill millions of people and remain an industry while dissemination of sarin in a subway will cause a historic man-hunt for the perpetrators, even though many more people died from smoking-related ills the same day than were even hurt from the sarin.

Erik Naggum