The 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair Lying Poll, For What It’s Worth, and That’s Not Much

"Ummmm..."The Princess Bride"?

“Ummmm…”The Princess Bride”?

CBS and Vanity Fair—now there’s a pair—is out with a so-called poll on lying, which I offer for your amusement, and perhaps irritation. Among its “findings”:

  • Only 57% of those polled said they have never preferred to be lied to.
  • COMMENT: This makes no sense in light of the 2012 Presidential election.
  • Only 48% of the public knew which film “You can’t handle the truth!” comes from, and 29% couldn’t even hazard a guess. COMMENT: It’s comforting to know that the public isn’t any more educated in relevant popular culture than it is in more important matters.
  • More of those polled said they lie to their mother (17%) than lie to their boss (12%). COMMENT:  So much for “the Mom Test” ethics alarm, in which you test a considered action’s ethics  against your willingness to tell your mother about it. If you just lie to Mom about it, problem solved!
  • Among the most popular “white lies,” according to the poll, “I thought I was going 55 miles per hour” was considered the most trivial. COMMENT: It was also the only one that couldn’t possibly be considered a white lie. Lying to a police officer?
  • 8% of those polled wished that they knew less about their parents. COMMENT: I guarantee that this number will be higher for succeeding generations, when photos of Dad and Mom doing god-know-what will be all over the internet.
  • 42%, the largest group by far, said that their reaction to a lousy home-cooked meal would be to say they didn’t like it. COMMENT: What’s a “home-cooked meal”?
  • The big one: of Bill Clinton, Bernie Madoff, Richard Nixon and Lance Armstrong, 43% said they were “most able” to forgive Bill Clinton, as opposed to 22% for Lance Armstrong, 12% for Richard Nixon, and 3% for Madoff. COMMENTS:  1) Where was Barack Obama? 2) Who wrote these questions? Talk about a competition between an apple, a penguin, a wad of bubble gum and a copy of “Riders of the Purple Sage.” 3) Yes, I’m probably “more able to forgive” Bill than a President who sanctioned criminal conduct, an athlete who scammed a whole sport as well as kids with cancer, and the swindler who ruined thousands of lives of investors who trusted them. And I’m more able to forgive Tricky Dick than Robert E. Lee,  Lance than Barry Bonds, and Bernie than Jeffrey Daumer. But I’m not about to forgive any of the bastards, since not one of them has offered a genuine apology or shown any contrition

The jokey, trivial tone of the poll shows a culture that doesn’t take lying as seriously as it should.


Source: CBS

40 thoughts on “The 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair Lying Poll, For What It’s Worth, and That’s Not Much

  1. COMMENT: What’s a “home-cooked meal”?

    It is that thing your wife makes that tastes like bitter almonds from this moment on for some strange reason I will never, ever judge her for.

  2. As an aside, I don’t consider Robert E Lee of requiring forgiveness. He did exactly as his sense of duty required (many back then felt their first duty was to their state before the Federal Government), and was – by every account – an exceedingly noble and fair man both during and after the war.

    It is suspected that in the wake of Lincoln’s assassination, it was Lee’s absolute refusal to re-raise his Army that kept the peace and spared the Union. If Lee had wished, he could have done it easily.

    • And what? The Union would have been re-reunited in about 1 year. Only the rotten gangs of the wild West that often were really the final holdouts of the confederacy would have been bigger…

  3. General Robert E Lee in my opinion, was a man of exceptional virtue. One of his acts after the civil war was when faced with black couple coming into an Episcopal Church to take communion and noting the shock of the parishioners was to kneel down next to them to take communion himself. I can’t imagine him pulling a “Tricky Dickie” or acting like Bill Clinton.

    • I was trying to lure Mr. Pilling into the open, as he is reliably tempted into defenses of General Lee.

      Personally, I think Lee has a much blood on his hands as anyone connected to the Civil War, and have never seen any good explanation why contributing so significantly to a war to protect an institution he supposedly abhorred enhances our assessment of his character. If he truly objected to slavery and thought Virginia was wrong, the ethical and courageous course would have been to take the command of the Union forces that was offered and perhaps saved a 100,000 lives, on both sides.

      I put him in the category of a decent and ethical man who made a terrible, deadly error of ethical judgment that helped rip a country apart, and no, I’m not likely to forgive him.

      • It isn’t that he abhorred it (he married a woman who’s home had some 200 slaves), it is that he did not consider it the place of the federal government to tell states they could or couldn’t. Once he had lost, and slavery was illegal and slaves freed, he accepted that reality and moved on.

        Lee did not rip the country apart. He may have aided in prolonging it, but he had his duty, and he did it.

        And as I said, were it not for him, after the death of Lincoln he could have easily reformed the Army of Northern Virginia and taken Washington within a week (if that long).

        • Reformed his army? And taken Washington within the week?

          We do recall this is the army that was incapable of doing anything because it had NO men. Every time Grant extended the siege line at Petersburg by 3 men, Lee had to cover that distance with 1, who was starving and under supplied. Every time Lee exchanged the life of ONE of his for ONE of Grant’s, Grant put 2 more on the line.

          If Lee stood a hypothetical chance of taking Washington AFTER a resumption of hostilities, he wouldn’t have surrendered on the first place.

          • After Lincoln was shot, there was so much disorder in the Federal government that the Union Army would have been unable to do anything against a rested, determined Lee.

            Lee refused to move against the Union, and actively encouraged others to do likewise.

            There is much to thank Lee for.

            • A rested and determined Lee?

              And an exhausted, starved, unequipped gaggle of rag tag men, already dispersing, while Grant still commanded an army in good order and wouldn’t, as a soldier, need to wait on the federal government to recrush any newly rising Southern Army?

              • Almost a week had passed between Lee’s surrended and Lincoln’s shooting, and for at least a week the government was without much if any real leadership. There was plenty of time, especially since Johnson was not popular.

                • The variable you ignore is something like 150,000 Union soldiers, well equipped, well fed, and under command of someone who wouldn’t need the Federal gov’t to tell him “hey, could you handle that?”

                    • Not certain how “Commanding General of the United States Army” and “the guy with no authority” jibe together.

                      I still eagerly await the explanation of how disarmed and hungry men, all of whom were well on their ways home were going to defeat the well equipped and well fed army that still happened to be between DC and any rally point Lee would have had to miraculously gather them at.

                    • They weren’t disarmed, actually – Grant let them keep their guns, and fed them and gave them provisions to travel.

                      They were starving because of the siege – once that was lifted, they could get food easily.

                    • The surrender conditions:

                      From U.S. Grant To R.E. Lee

                      Appomattox Court-House, Virginia April 9, 1865.

                      General: In accordance with the substance of my letter to you of the 8th instant, I propose to receive the surrender of the army of Northern Virginia on the following terms, to wit: Rolls of all the officers and men to be made in duplicate, one copy to be given to an officer to be designated by me, the other to be retained by such officer or officers as you may designate. The officers to give their individual paroles not to take up arms against the government of the United States until properly exchanged; and each company or regimental commander to sign a like parole for the men of their commands. The arms, artillery, and public property to be parked and stacked, and turned over to the officers appointed by me to receive them. This will not embrace the side-arms of the officers nor their private horses or baggage. This done, each officer and man will be allowed to return to his home, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.

                      U.S. Grant, Lieutenant-General. General R. E. Lee.

                    • Additionally, spread about the country side and dependent on a miraculous rally that could only hope to gather a fraction of the men dispersed, with a still intact army, with cannons, and plenty of ammunition between them and DC….

                      Wasn’t gonna happen, Lee’s grace notwithstanding.

            • I agree with this completely, Scott. Jefferson Davis wanted Lee to wage a guerrilla war, and the South would have won, I think, if it had. So tell me: why was Lee’s decision not to fight for Virginia in 1865 noble, but to fight in 1861 still noble? Personally, I have always believed that by 1965 he realized that he had made a terrible error, and chose not to compound it. But it took a lot of deaths to change his mind.

              • By what logic, does a completely occupied South, choked mercilessly by Radical Republican politicians and generals, hope to keep supplied an army which demonstrated clear preference to desert when supplies were dwindled to nothing?

              • So tell me: why was Lee’s decision not to fight for Virginia in 1865 noble, but to fight in 1861 still noble?

                Because back then, you were from your state first, and America second. Lee’s first duty – at least in his mind – was to his home. And in fact, he didn’t leave the US Army to take command of the Army of Northern Virginia. He declined command of the Union Army, and went home to Virginia. Only later was he offered the command. He had left the Union, and was a Confederate citizen.

                But in 1865 he had surrendered. He had told the Commander of the Union Army he would fight no more, and he felt honor bound to hold to that.

                I find both actions honorable, and while the war was horrible, it wasn’t his fault.

                • You are saying that he was honorable to surrender because he surrendered. But it was Lee’s decision to surrender, when Davis wanted him to lead a continuing resistance. Yes, he was tired and feeling old. But ironically, Lee decided to keep the war going when the risk-reward was the worst, and didn’t when it was better. He decided that the fighting had to end, a decision that he could have made four years earlier.

                  • Lee surrendered his Army when he could no longer fight with them – had the siege not run them out of supplies, he likely would have continued to resist. His surrender was honorable.

                    Up until Gettysburg, Lee had a chance at winning, and honestly I think Lee only lost there because a) his cavalry screwed up and allowed the fight in the first place and b) Jackson was dead and his Corp was lead by Longstreet, who took most of the 2nd day to get into position. Had Longstreet not taken the scenic route and managed to attack before noon, There likely would have been a much, much different outcome.

                    Lee was a fighter – he was told to fight so he did. Long odds didn’t matter – he had been, for the most part, numerically inferior for virtually every battle. Just because the risk/reward was bad didn’t change that.

                    I refuse to blame a General for fighting and not surrendering, or find him ethically wanting because of it. Was Major Whittlesey unethical by refusing the German offer of surrender in the Argonne Forrest?

                    • there wouldn’t have been a Gettysburg if Lee had had initial success

                      Meade, on the defensive, would have simply displaced to a different bit of dirt and waited. Lee either had to attack or had to go home.

                      Lee gaining the initial upper hand and grabbing decisive terrain would have prompted Meade to not do anything, leading Gettysburg to be one more minor skirmish.

                      The south, although winning tactically, was sacrificing a greater proportion of its army than was the north in each battle. And the south did not have the men to do this strategy.

                    • Indeed – if Hill had not engaged on the 1st of July until after the ANV was consolidated, they would have swept through, If Hill had opted to press the attack after pushing the Army of the Potomac out of Gettysburg, they would have crushed them. If Longstreet had hurried his ass up instead of stalling like a petulant child and gotten into position to attack much earlier on the 2nd day, they would have easily over-run the AotP…

                      And Meade’s AotP was pretty much all that really stood between Lee and DC…

                    • He wouldn’t have crushed anything. Meade’s corps commanders would have avoided the fight and displaced to more defensible terrain and let Lee have his defeat there instead of Gettysburg.

                      Additionally, I don’t get the fixation with DC being a war ending objective. The government would have evacuated and contined functioning minus the city. Which even if not evacuated, Lee showed scant little interest in going head to head with DC’s 68 forts, over 500 cannon, almost 100 mortars and miles of prepared infantry trenches.

                      Lee’s army was scattered at the outset of Gettysburg, meade’s was concentrated. No scenario barring magic brings Lee’s army together in anyway other than it did, unless you back track the scenario and lee remains more consolidated on his march into Pennsylvania. But that flies in the face of Lee’s intent for the invasion, which was to raid and wreak havoc as far and wide as was tactically sensible.

                      Lee would then have to so soundly annihilate the union army, that it presented no serious harrassment or blocking force on the way to DC. A tall proposition.

                      In the event of victory like that lee still would not have made a foolhardy rush to DC, every battle is followed by a withdrawal on both sides to regroup and resupply. A necessity even more pressing for Lee, in enemy territory.

  4. What exactly does it say about you if you don’t know which movie a certain line came from? Is there a certain amount of popular culture a person is required to know about before their opinions can be taken seriously? I ask this as a person who has no idea which movie that line comes from and who until yeaterday had never heard the term cis gendered.

    • I think it might mean that one isculturally isolated, and that’s not particularly healthy. The movie has been around for 20 years, the line is part of cultural lexicon, and it’s a cultural touch point that spans generations. It alone is means nothing—there are holes in everyone’s knowledge (cis-gender doesn’t come up that often—I’d be shocked if 1% of the population could define the term.). But cultural literacy is as important as any other aspect of literacy. I knew a Columbia Law school grad who had no idea who Jackie Robinson, didn’t know who Allan Shepard was or that Jane Fonda was once a hated anti-war protester, couldn’t place Fred Astaire and couldn’t come within 50 years of the time of the Civil War. That individual doesn’t have enough knowledge of the country she lives in to be competent citizen.

      • Well, I’ve heard the quote a million times, you’d have to be a hermit not to have heard it, but I didn’t know what movie it is from and I haven’t seen the movie. It’s possible Vanity Fair and CBS might have a more entertainment oriented view of popular culture than the average Joe and that what they think relates to telling the truth is not at all what others think, as you pointed out.
        I absolutely think that cultural literacy is important, I just wonder to what extent cultural literacy makes a persons opinions valid or invalid.

        • What’s absolutely infuriating, is his “you can’t handle the truth” is filled with blunt truths of the civilized world and the veneer of rough men than stand ready to so violence on it’s behalf.

          But the speech was intentionally conflated with the monstrous character of Col Jessup, so that the truths contained in that speech could be degraded.

      • There’s a small neighborhood bar in my hometown, with a friendly, more-or-less intelligent 30-something barmaid with whom I have become friends. She could not identify Perry Como, Frank Sinatra or (wait for it) Robert Redford. I’m guessing she is never going to get past bar-tending.

        • Why? Is knowing those three people necessary for competence in any better paying field?
          About 10 years ago I was excoriated on a blog for using the words gay lifestyle and not knowing the LGBTQU whatever term the community prefers. I have since used LGBT as requested, and I’d use whatever other letters are currently favored if I could find out what the required ones are and in what order.
          I imagine Perry Como is low on the recognizability scale of most 30 something people and I’ll give the barmaid the same amount of slack I’m given for my lack of knowledge of current music icons (or politically correct diversity terms.)

        • And I agree with that. Substantial ignorance of history and popular culture demonstrate narrowness, self-absorption and a lack of curiosity about the word around you. She never heard of Sinatra?????

      • I’d be curious to know how old she was at time she revealed her abysmal ignorance. Most of this stuff is totally irrelevant to anybody under 50 now days. After all, haven’t we reached a time where everybody has their “15 minutes of fame”.

    • Yeah, I don’t care for the lead actors in that for various reasons, so never saw more than ads. No one pop-culture piece of knowledge says anything about someone’s tolerance of lies. Maybe it’s because I live alongside a large Amish population, that knowing movie dialogue is less important than many things like the bill of rights and goodwill.

    • What exactly does it say about you if you don’t know which movie a certain line came from?
      Don’t feel bad.
      At the weekend I read an article that listed the current top ten tv shows.
      But that is simply because I don’t watch network tv.

      Maybe you just don’t watch military movies.
      Or Tom Cruise movies.

      I also never heard the term cis gender until just recently.
      (On this board, in fact.)
      Why would your average person know this term?
      They wouldn’t.

      We only have time to absorb so much info.
      If I have reams of data to digest about what a big, fat liar Obama is, I hardly have time to load up on the newest transgender terminology.

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