Bald-Faced Liars


My stories come from the Louisiana Pineywoods.

A Bald-Faced Liar

“He’d rather climb a tree to tell a lie rather than stand on the ground and tell the truth.”


Where I come from, calling someone a bald-faced liar are fighting words.

What’s the difference between a lie and a bald-faced lie?

A lie is telling untruth. It’s wrong. It’s a sin. “Do not swear false witness  . . .”  Then there’s a bald-faced lie.  Sometimes, people politely call it a “whopper,” but it’s much more than that.

A bald-faced liar tells lie after lie to cover his tracks. Soon, there’s a tall stack of tottering lies.

All of this brings me to (former) congressman George Santos.

He is a bald-faced liar.  I won’t detail the laundry list of fabricated lies he’s told.

“George, you’re a bald-faced liar, and I hope we’ve heard the last of you.”

Sociologists call a person like this a pathological liar.  They’ve developed the habit of lying so much that they naturally lie before they tell the truth.  And lying, like telling the truth, becomes a habit.  They honestly believe they’re telling the truth.

I learned all of this in my earlier career when I was assistant principal for discipline in a K-12 school. I actually have a “B.S.” undergraduate degree in professional lying.

During those years, I dealt daily with liars from five-year-olds to eighteen.

Most told what we might call white lies (which is still wrong). A lie is a lie is a lie.

Over the years, I encountered several pathological liars. They were bald-faced liars. They’d so vehemently deny the truth that they’d burst into tears.  They actually had deluded themselves to believe they weren’t lying, but telling the truth.

My favorite was, “Mr. Iles, you can bring a stack of Bibles this high, and I’ll swear . . .”

It was one of the many dead giveaways on liars. Keep asking questions, and most liars will hang themselves.  What they didn’t say often gave them away, such as eye contact and body language. Just listen and keep asking questions.

This parental version of bald-faced lying amused me, “Mr. Iles, my son would never lie to me.”

My retort was, “I have good boys, but you back them in a corner far enough, and they’ll lie.”

I mentored young teachers to never call a student “a liar” or say, “Shut up.”  Both of these terms are like pouring gasoline on the proverbial fire.

There are dozens of better ways to respond to a liar, “Do you really expect me to believe that?” or  “I  just don’t believe that’s the truth,” or “Can you back that up with facts?”

Each of those retorts are calling them a liar without calling them a liar.

I don’t want this blog to be about negativity, but it’s made me think of several items I’ve notated in my journal about honesty and truthfulness:


  1. Telling the truth is a habit, just like lying. The more you practice it, the easier it becomes. It should be who we are and part of our reputation.  As we say in the Louisiana piney woods, “He’s a man of his word.”

There is no higher compliment.

Just tell the truth.

2. You won’t have to remember your story if you tell the truth. It’ll come out the same each time.

3. Telling the truth is not a license to be cruel. A supervisor once told me, “Curt, you know how to tell someone to go to hell, and they’ll be glad to go there.”

I’m not sure it was meant as a compliment.

4. Truth is always careful and discrete, as in, “Honey, do these pants make me look fat?”  You answer that with too much forthrightness, and you’ll be sleeping on the couch for the month of May. Discrete speech is not lying.

5. There is a challenging part of truthfulness: sometimes, you’ll have information that must be kept confidential.  It may actually make you look bad to withhold this secret, but an honest person will say, “I cannot divulge that. It’s private.”

 6. Telling the truth makes one feel good about yourself. You have a clean feeling in your heart. You stand a little taller and walk straighter.

Let’s all rededicate ourselves to being honest. The world will be better for it.

If I could sit former Congressman Santos at my kitchen table, I’d say, “George, do you really expect me to believe you played volleyball at a college you never attended that doesn’t even have a volleyball team?”

I can imagine his lengthy explanation.

I believe I’d stop him and break my rule: “George, you ain’t nothing but a bald-faced liar.”

Friends, just tell the truth. You’ll find it makes looking in the mirror easier.

“But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”    – Jesus in Matthew 6:37


“Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor.”   

-The Ninth Commandment.


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