Governments often spread lies in order to impact individual’s behavior. Plato called this the “Noble Lie” because those in power believe that the people need to be lied to for their own good.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Connor: Hey, Brittany.
Brittany: Hey, Connor.
Connor: Today I wanna take a minute and talk about something that the government uses against people often. And this is often called the noble lie, which is a term coined by the philosopher Plato. And I’m gonna give you the definition, maybe Britney, you can help break it down. So, in politics, the definition goes like this, in politics, a noble lie is a myth or untruth, knowingly propagated by an elite to maintain social harmony or to advance an agenda. What does that mean?
Brittany: Yeah. So I think the word knowingly, is really important in this because that means they are knowingly being misleading, right? They know what they were doing. So, one of the ways I see this, just to give one example, and we’re gonna dive into a bunch of examples, is foreign policy. So this, what I think of when I hear this is, you know, a lot of times you’ll hear people say, this country hates us for our freedom, so we have to attack. I don’t think anyone actually believes, especially if you are in foreign policy, that a country hates us for our freedoms. Because if you’ve been paying attention, we don’t, we don’t even have that many anymore, but it’s something that if it gets us into war, then the elites, you know, as they’re called, are happy, right? Because that’s their agenda. That’s the thing they’re trying to push on us. So, it’s whatever it is they need to do to meet their ends. It’s like this propaganda, right? That they, tell us, but they know it’s not true.
Connor: There is a quote since you mentioned foreign policy. I’m reminded of this quote from, president George W. Bush. This was in 2005 in the fall of 2005. So this was, you know, almost four years after nine 11. He had sent the military into the Middle East and Iraq and Afghanistan. And, you know, there was a lot of pushback to that cuz well, wait a minute. Like these terrorists were from Saudi Arabia. Why are we suddenly now fighting a war in these other countries? And, there was a, as you remember, Britney, certainly there was a lot of controversy around the so-called war on terror. So George Bush is in the role of having to make these claims of like, oh no, we have to do this and these guys are trying to kill us and they hate us for our freedoms. So here’s this quote from the president of the United States. He says, you see in my line of work, you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in to kind of catapult the propaganda. And, so that’s a, I think a perfect example of this noble lie. This, you know, this politician, in this case sees thinks that you know, the people need to be persuaded this way, that there’s this propaganda and we have to repeat it over and over and over again for it to be perceived as truth. And the more we say it, the more it shifts in people’s minds from being a meth or being a lie. Because someone in authority, I, you know, someone who’s elite, is repeating it over and over again. Oh, it must be true. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be doing that. And so it takes on a life of its own. And suddenly what previously was understood to be wrong or thought to be a lie, is now just considered to be, you know, the authorized truth of, something that happened. So that, that just reminded me of what Bush said about, you know, what, now, 16 years ago.
Brittany: Well, and I’ll tell you what, what Bush said actually reminded me of what Joseph Goebbels says. And we actually have not gotten into World War II yet. I’ve got some episodes planned for us where we’ll dive into a couple of episodes cuz World War II has got so much there’s so many things to talk about. Yeah. But Joseph Goebbels was the father of propaganda, and we’ve talked about propaganda and he said essentially what Bush said, but in slightly, more academic terms. But his whole thing is if you repeat something enough and you keep pushing it, the people are so dumb, they’re gonna believe it. I mean, that was his whole reason, his whole part in the, in the Nazi regime, was to push what they called the great lie, which they had a very specific great lie, which was that everyone that wasn’t German was gonna, you know, ruin, existence, but they had one job, you had one job, and that was to propagate or to expand this, noble lie, so to speak. So it’s very scary. And as we’ll see, when we talk about World War II, what people, governments have been able to achieve by doing this is terrifying.
Connor: Well, and, as you say, it’s worth spending more time later talking about, things around World War II, but there, there was this report, that was written about, Adolf Hitler who led the Nazis. And it was kind of his psychological profile. It was like, how, this guy was behaving and, and kind of an analysis of the way he thought. And on this topic of this noble liar, this big lie, it said that this report said people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one. And if you repeat it frequently enough, people will sooner or later believe it. And, you know, it reminds me of, I don’t know if I’ve talked about this on the episode, but I, recently wrote about this in one of my books, and it’s, this show, I think it was called Brain Games. I wanna say maybe you’ve seen this online. The clip is on YouTube, Britney, and it’s this woman, she walks into this, kind of this eye, I think it’s an eye doctor’s office. They’re offering like free screenings. And so she walks in, there’s a couple of people in there, waiting, right? So she goes in, fills out the form, sits down, she’s waiting for her turn. And I’m trying to remember, I think it was a beep, that they hear. And so the other people in the waiting room stand up and then sit down and the woman is like, looking at them kind of funny, like, what is.
Brittany: Have seen this, yeah, this sounds familiar,
Connor: She’s, well, you know, looking like it’s, there’s hidden cameras and stuff so you can kind of see, right? And she’s kind of like, what is going on? And then like a few minutes later, it beeps again. And, by this time I think someone new had come in and sat down and that person joined the other people and standing up and seen. And this woman is like, what’s going on? So this happens like three or four times. Pretty soon she starts standing up and sitting down and other people have come in and they’re all doing it too. Well, the ruse is that everyone except this woman is an actor. They’re all in on this stunt. And it’s all meant to show that you know, we are behavioral creatures. We will look to other people to determine what we should do or think. And this woman believed a big lie. This noble lie of when there’s a beep, you must stand up and sit down. Like what person in their right mind, if you were to walk them on the street and say, Hey, you know, you’re gonna go to this place tomorrow and you’re gonna hear a beep and you should stand up and sit down, they’re gonna question it, right? Like, are you kidding me? Why? Like, that sounds ridiculous. Why would I ever do that? And what’s the point? , but here this person was, you know, and she was seeing it. There was this idea of social proof. In other words, you know, she was getting proof or, pressure from other people to behave this way. And so she started doing it too. I just think that’s kind of a silly example, but an example of how people can do something crazy big and believe a big lie when other people are doing it when it’s coming from authority. Because people are willing to, it’s like when you go into a movie theater, there’s this idea, called the suspension of disbelief, right? So if I go watch the Avengers movie, I, it’s all fake, right? And yet, just for a moment, you kind of go along with it, right? You, you suspend your disbelief, your critical thinking of, well, that’s not real. And no one can fly and no one can.
Brittany: Nobody wants to see a movie with that guy who’s like, Hey, that’s not real. I know. Cause I hate that guy sometimes.
Connor: Right? And so we suspend that disbelief. We know all this stuff is fake, but we suspend it, we hit pause on it, and we just go along with a story. And I feel like this noble, this concept of a noble or big lie is the same. We, suspend our critical thinking.
Brittany: Yeah. Sorry, go on.
Connor: No, I was just gonna wrap up and toss it back over to you by saying that we, in, doing that and hitting the pause button, we’re basically shutting our minds down and letting other people do the thinking for us. And I feel like that’s extremely dangerous.
Brittany: You know, what comes to mind? And we talk about this, is masks, to be honest with you. And I don’t mean to get controversial. I know we’re trying to move past COVID, but I remember going into stores and I didn’t wear a mask for a long time. One, because I didn’t think that the science was there, and I just I didn’t want to be honest. But I remember walking into to stores and slowly seeing more and more people wear masks. And I remember having friends that didn’t necessarily believe in me and this is before the mandate. We weren’t like breaking the law or anything, but. I remember having friends go in and, they would put masks on, not because they believed it was saving them or helping them or anything, but because other people wearing masks. Hmm. And then I think you saw that a lot with not just masks but anything with COVID, right? Standing six feet apart, whatever it was with COVID. And there was a good reason, right? People were scared. We didn’t know a lot about COVID, but a lot of those things never left. We’re still seeing people, you know, a lot of my grocery stores don’t make you wear masks anymore, but there’s still people that wear them and that will give you very dirty looks if you don’t. And so it’s like this, it’s this weird kind of version of the noble lie where maybe even though the government was well-intentioned, maybe, you know, maybe we didn’t need to do all this, but how quickly we all followed along with it is kind of mind-boggling to me. Yeah.
Connor: I, agree. I remember when, you know, Fauci was saying, you know, for example, I had COVID, okay, I got COVID. And so I have antibodies and the CDC themselves have said, you know, basically, there’s no research as to whether someone who had COVID, needs to get vaccinated, right? You’ve already got antibodies you don’t need like artificial ones, you know, from the vaccine. And so the CDC is on the side of, you know, you don’t need to, get vaccinated there, there isn’t that expectation. And yet Fauci and all these politicians and everyone are like, everyone needs to get vaccinated. And there’s no nuance. In other words, there’s no, like, there’s no middle ground, right? It’s just like everyone must get vaccinated. Yeah. And to me, that’s a big lie. And people are buying into it. Oh, we can return to the old normal if only everyone gets vaccinated. And they, suspend disbelief. They no longer critically think, they no longer wonder. Wait a minute, you know, do, does someone who had COVID really need to get a COVID vaccine? Or when Fauci says, oh, everyone over the age of two who’s unvaccinated needs a mask, and we do, we really pause and think, well, wait a minute, why does a two-year-old who has like zero threat at all of, contracting COVID or having any problems with it, you know, why does a two-year-old need to wear a mask when wearing a mask? Has all kinds of social and psychological problems for a toddler like that. And yet people don’t engage in that critical thinking. They believe this big lie. They see someone in authority. I remember that quote Brittany, that says like, fool me once. Yeah, shame on you. In other words, shame on you for fooling me. Right? Fool me twice. Shame on me. In other words, if, you know anyone can be fooled once, but if, I let you fool me a second time, shame on me for believing you because I should have, I should have been skeptical, right? I should have, I should have seen that coming. So shame on me for not having my guard up and saying, oh, you fooled me before, so I’m right. Or a related one. You think of the boy who cried wolf, right? At least in that little fable or story, right? The boy cries wolf and the villagers, you know, it turns out it’s wrong. And so then when the wolf actually comes, the boy, you know, cries out again. And the villagers don’t believe him anymore, right? They, were on the right side. They weren’t being fooled anymore, except the problem was of course, that there was actually a wolf. And so what is it like when the elite, or the power people in power, the politicians, when they lie and they create these noble lies and they push this propaganda, you know, how do we know when we can trust them? How do we know what’s actually right? That’s the big challenge of our day, I feel like, is because there’s a lot of untrustworthy voices, and they may be trustworthy at times, but how do you know? And I, that’s a big question in my mind.
Brittany: Well, we’ve been lied to so many times. Again, I think of TSA, I think of, you know, post 9-11, and we talk about that, you know, with our listeners a lot who, who weren’t alive. They don’t remember a, pre 9-11 world. But we were fed this, story that if we didn’t have all these extra precautions, we were going to get attacked again. And then you find out that t s a, what was it, 95% of the time, they, ran all these tests, like they couldn’t catch anything. Like they sent people in to try to like stp ’em, like, all right, we’re gonna try to get weapons through, are you gonna catch us? And they couldn’t even catch them, right? So it’s this, this noble lie, because now they have the power and we’ve talked about, you know, ratchet effect. You don’t, the power gets worse. They don’t somehow are like, all right, it’s over now. , you guys are good. Like, I don’t see with COVID, there’s a lot of restrictions that should be lifted now that aren’t lifted. And so this noble lie kind of perpetuates all these bad regulations that we might never be able to get rid of, and we’re just stuck with them forever, and we become less free.
Connor: I’m gonna repeat once more the definition as we wrap up here just so we can remember what this is about. So, in politics, a noble lie is a myth or untruth knowingly propagated by an elite to maintain social harmony or to advance an agenda. another example, you know, dealing with COVID, Fauci at first was saying, don’t wear masks. And he was trying to, as this, the definition just said, he was trying to maintain social harmony and in the way of saying, Hey, we need our hospital workers to, you know, be able to get all the masks that they need. And if everyone goes out to the store and buys masks, there won’t be any. So he was actually lying, right? Like, it could be good to have masks, maybe. I mean, I think that’s questionable. But, he was engaged in this lie of his own with a desire to maintain social harmony. And then of course, then it flips, and then, oh, now you need a mask. Now, oh, you need two masks. You know, like, these things are crazy. And they’re, they’re done by these elites as the definition just said, to maintain social harmony. In other words, we’re trying to control people, keep everyone calm, right? Or to advance an agenda. We’re trying to get people to be conditioned to be, you know, rule followers, even if they don’t understand why we want people to obey without question. Like that’s an agenda that they might be trying to advance. And so I think it’s really important for us to be skeptical, like the villagers and the boy who cried wolf. Like, we have to be on guard. We can’t be fooled twice. And there are plenty of people out there who are advancing all kinds of big noble lies. They’re repeating these things over and over again. And perhaps it is for that reason that when a politician is saying the same thing again and again, that may, you may wanna have the little yellow flag of caution go up and be like, eh, like the fact that they’re so insistent right? About this makes you wonder if there’s another agenda. And that would be a good opportunity for us to go, maybe we need to be a little skeptical about this. So again, this is where critical thinking is really important, where having some healthy skepticism about authority is, political authority is important. And so that’s a, I think, a good topic for families to talk about how we can kind of determine, who we should trust and, and who we should be a little skeptical about. So, a good topic is always. Thanks, Brittany, and until next time, we’ll talk to you later.
Brittany: Talk to you later.