The Many Facets of Honesty

Every season on Survivor there is usually at least one contestant who makes a big deal about what an “honest game” they plan to play.  They swear on their loved ones graves that they are telling the truth about this or that.  They go on ad nauseum to the camera about how they have too much integrity to lie to anyone, even for a million dollars.  Of course, they are usually the biggest liar of all, and the person they are lying to the most is their self.

This season (Tocantins) the award goes to Coach.  Never mind that his fellow survivors think he’s full of it from his stories of being kidnapped and beaten by natives in the Amazon among other things.  Coach keeps swearing up and down that he is not going to tell a single lie to get ahead in this game.  Never mind that two weeks ago he was behind the eviction of a major player while leading that player to believe someone else was getting ousted.  The blind side has become a kind of art form on Survivor that the audience relishes as much as the constestants (except for the one blind-sided, of course).  This has got me pondering the many facets of honesty exhibited on the show.

1.  The Honest Liar:  Usually there are one or two of these each season.  They proudly proclaim to the camera that they will lie, steal, or cheat to get to the end with no regrets.  You’ve got to admire that kind of honesty in a sad kind of way.

2.  The Surrogate Liar:  This is the person who won’t actually lie directly to a person, but they get someone else in their alliance to do it for them.  They try to get off of a technicality.  It’s like the Catholic spouse that let’s the non-Catholic spouse use the contraception.

3.  The Justified Liar:  “He lied to me first.”  “He was conspiring to vote me out first.”  “He hurt my itty bitty feelings.”  The Justified Liar will be honest with you until you annoy him somehow.  These are usually the most sanctimonious and hypocritical and whiny of the bunch.  If you vote for them without informing them first then you’re dishonest and must die.  But if I conspire to have you voted out behind your back, I am still honest as long as I don’t say “I am not voting for you”.

4.  The Omissive Liar:  Omissive Liars just kind of avoid whoever they know is being voted out so that said person can never corner them and ask them straight out who they are voting for.  When their alliance members are having a dishonest discussion with said victim, the Omissive Liar just keeps their mouth shut or goes MIA.  Purposely misleading someone is called a “lie of omission”, and it is just as dishonest as straight-out lying.

5.  The Human Liar:  Human Liars are just like you and me.  They go into the game well-intentioned.  They are good people trying to be good, but the temptations of the game are just too much for them.  They worry about people in their alliance turning on them or hurting someone’s feelings, or when they actually make it to the merge and realize that they actually do have a chance of winning, the truth suddenly becomes much more subjective.

That children concludes our lesson on Honesty according to the microcosm that is Survivor.  The only thing that annoys me worse than all of the people claiming that they are uber-honest is when two rival alliances allow a person for which neither one cares about to be a swing vote between them.  I don’t understand why the two rival alliances give that one person so much power over their fates in the game.  Why don’t they just come together to vote out that swing person and then duke it out in a fire-making challenge at the next tribal council?  Maybe because they realize that deep down they are all a bunch of liars and they can’t trust that the other team will actually vote out the swing person.

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