EM SC 240N
Energy and Sustainability in Contemporary Culture

The Three Types of Lies


Learning Objectives Self-Check

Read through the following statements/questions. You should be able to answer all of these after reading through the content on this page. I suggest writing or typing out your answers, but if nothing else, say them out loud to yourself.

 What is the difference between a lie of omission, a lie of commission, and a character lie?

Hopefully, by now you see that there are a number of rhetorical strategies available to help convince people of an argument. Though this can be seen as manipulative in many cases, often times it does not involve actual lying. But what is lying, exactly? Merriam Webster's online dictionary provides two relevant definitions of a lie:

lie (intransitive verb)
  1. to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive
  2. to create a false or misleading impression.

Seems pretty cut-and-dry, but for the purposes of this lesson, it is helpful to know that there are different types of lies. The three most commonly referred to are lies of commission, lies of omission, and lies of influence, aka character lies. The reading below neatly summarizes these and provides some examples.

To Read Now

These three types of lies are well-known, and there are many readings that illustrate them. This one from Vanessa Van Edwards is clear and offers a number of examples. I suggest going through the examples she provides to test your understanding.

The link will take you to the section of the website that you are required to read, but you are welcome to read the content above it as well.

Now that you have a good idea of what each of these three types of lies entail, take a second to think about which type of lie fits which of Webster's definitions above.

Optional (But Strongly Suggested)

Now that you have completed the content, I suggest going through the Learning Objectives Self-Check list at the top of the page.