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Arnold Kling has a Ph.D. in economics from MIT; founded, one of the very first commercial websites, in 1994; separated from Homefair in January 2000 after it was sold to Homestore; is author of Under the Radar: Starting Your Internet Business without Venture Capital, and is an essayist. Send comments to us at

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March 07, 2004

True Lies

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Posted by Arnold

After reading Weinberger's Law:

whatever people most emphasize about themselves is the biggest lie they tell. If your boss tells you that he's all about teamwork, then he's all about himself. If Nixon says that he is not a crook, then he is.

I went back to what I wrote on Orkut for my profile:

I'm somewhere between an academic geek and a normal person.

Presumably, that statement is the biggest lie that I tell. It's not clear what to make of that.

Also, for what it's worth, I've never believed that George Bush is "compassionate." There was no compassion in the glint in his eye during the debates when he supported the death penalty and asserted that marriage is between a man and a woman. And I agree with David that John Kerry's claim to be just a regular guy probably is another instance of Weinberger's cynical law.

Comments (8) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: politics | social software


1. David Weinberger on March 7, 2004 09:57 AM writes...

Arnold, it only applies if you constantly repeat the statement, introduce yourself that way, etc. So, you're in the clear :)

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2. dsquared on March 9, 2004 09:12 AM writes...

It's a special case of the Law of Inverse Relevance from "Yes Minister"

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3. JayT on March 11, 2004 07:48 PM writes...

Since I've blown my "wad" (and isn't it SO easy to backslide once it's started).. If I may permitted to express a view on Corante here? (I ask, especially because a statistically significant percentage of my writings to forums moderated by other people, like Dave Winer, have failed to materialize or stay materialized lately.)

I've heard this said before. In fact, was said about me when I said "I'm NOT lying when I say that so-and-so IS lying." And went on and tried to say: This does not ALWAYS apply in each-and-every case, especially when the cases are in actual fact, ENTIRELY different. Dunno if I got the point across in that case or not.


But some "laws" are a WHOLE lot less universal in applicability than others, in my experience anyway.

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4. Patrizia on June 18, 2004 04:53 AM writes...

If you ask 100 people if it is right to revere a man because he is an an aristocrat or a member of the royal family they will answer it is plain silly, but 90% of them will go on bowing their heads and breathing heavily in the presence of such a person.
Seeing the irrationality of a belief does not mean that people can-or will ever try to-get rid of it.

Religion may be a bunch of fairy tales but fairy tales too are basic necessities.
Religion may be bunk but it makes many people more understanding, wiser, more tolerant, more broad minded and happier than they would be without it.(or it should)
It gives meaning to many lives and as we are reluctant to accept the idea that life has no special meaning, we should be grateful for the gift.

There are the mad bigots of the Ayatollah type, there are the hypocrites who make a good living as workers in the church industry and there are of course, the honest believers for whom religion is the true meaning of life.
But it is not the true believers who keep the churches powerful, it is the vast army of non-believers who help to preserve the churches' strength.
Religions may be true or untrue, but the need for religious belief is certainly real for many people.

Lies too can be a need. For many reasons, the most importan being not to aknowledge the truth.


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5. Adom on June 24, 2004 05:14 AM writes...

yup,i don't like George Bush too

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6. Adom on June 24, 2004 05:15 AM writes...

Bush down and back from Iraq

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7. Adom on June 24, 2004 05:16 AM writes...


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8. Adom on June 24, 2004 05:18 AM writes...


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