"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true."A character, typically an antagonist, is known for making some outrageous claims. Either vicious attacks against their foes, claims of divinity, or consistently twisting events so they look better. In anyone else, these could be called out as Blatant Lies. But what sets this character apart is that, contrary to all evidence and the fact that they, by all rights, should know better, they honestly believe every word they're saying. However sane they may have been when they started, they've gone over the deep end and are now Believing Their Own Lies. Double Think is an extreme example where the said liar does know better but keeps believing his own lies simply because he can. Sister Trope to A God Am I, where there is frequently overlap. The key difference is that this trope is less specific and doesn't have to be a claim of Godhood. This trope also applies only when the character should know perfectly well they aren't a god, but have convinced themselves otherwise. Characters suffering from this trope are also prone to a Self-Serving Memory. See also Becoming the Mask, in which a character assumes a fake identity he ultimately wishes to keep; and the Amnesiac Liar, who gets fed their own lies after memory loss. A Straw Hypocrite, who manipulates others by feigning to follow a cause, may get taken in by their own rhetoric this way. Compare Conspiracy Theorists, who think their outrageous claims are true from the get-go. With a little Obfuscating Stupidity, one can pretend to believe for as long as this gives an advantage.
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Anime & Manga
- The manga-only arc Onisarashi-hen from Higurashi: When They Cry has Natsumi stating to the police that her mother killed her grandmother, then, after hiding the body, stabbed her father in the back of the neck for being incompetent and useless, then killing herself by slashing her throat open with a knife that she tried to kill Natsumi with. In chapter 7, we find out that Natsumi committed all of the murders; she killed her grandmother, then got her parents to help hide her, stabbed her father in the front of his neck, and then killed her mother after she called for help when Akira called the house. Didn't you think that Natsumi being the only one getting covered in blood, even though she wasn't killing anyone, was kind of weird?
- God Eneru in One Piece had serious A God Am I issues. While knowing that, in the Sky Islands, "God" is merely a title for an island's leader, Eneru's Lightning-based Rumble-Rumble Fruit powers combined with the near-omnipotence granted by his enhanced mind-reading Mantra ability convinced him that he truly was divine.
- Buggy the Clown; breaking a bunch of prisoners out of their cells in order to facilitate his escape from Impel Down caused him to start being referred to as "The Great Buggy-sama". This hit a critical mass when it emerged that he once served on the Pirate King's ship, alongside one of the current Four Emperors. As a result, he started thinking he had a chance of taking Whitebeard's head. To put that in perspective, Buggy is on the low end of One Piece's Sorting Algorithm of Evil, and Whitebeard is called World's Strongest Man with zero exaggeration.
- A villain of the week from the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga was a fake psychic (who physically made his prophecies of doom come true.) At the end, he's in a tight spot where only manifesting actual psychokinesis can save him, and he believes so hard he actually hallucinates that it's working.
- In School-Live!, in Yuki's mind, everything she sees looks like a normal day in school, that there is no Zombie Apocalypse and except for the members of the School Life Club, she only sees the rest of the students are fine and not zombies. This is actually a defense mechanism developed by Yuki to cope with the world she is living in now.
- In an Archie Comics story, Veronica tells Archie and Reggie that whoever scores the most baskets in the next school game gets to take her out that weekend. Reggie attempts to sabotage Archie by telling him that the best way to improve his basket-shooting is to criticize himself constantly and harshly while practicing. This goes Reggie's way until Coach Clayton sets Archie straight, telling him that he should do the opposite while practicing and build up his confidence. Archie indeed goes on to score the most baskets, leading Reggie to wonder whether there was something to his "advice" after all. The story ends with Reggie practicing while berating himself and surrounding himself with demotivational posters.
- Depending on the Writer, sometimes Lex Luthor actually believes that he is fighting to protect humanity from Superman. Other more minor villains, like (the most recent version of) Sam Lane, may believe the same.
- Unknown Soldier from DC Comics, one of the versions. He is there when America liberates a Nazi concentration camp. He kind of snaps. Now he believes that whatever America does is right, no matter how horrible, because they once fought against the horrible Nazis.
- In the Avatar: The Last Airbender comic Rebound, Mai's father seems sincerely to have deluded himself into believing Fire Lord Zuko abandoned his daughter and kicked her out when it's common knowledge that Mai is the one who left Zuko.
- The Joker sometimes believes his Multiple-Choice Past, Depending on the Writer of course. One issue of The Robin Series had him actually in tears as he told the psychiatrist of his abusive childhood, only for the psychiatrist to coldly point out that it's the seventh story he's told now.
- In the 1954 Biblical epic The Silver Chalice, Simon the Magician (Jack Palance) is a conman who gets rich by faking miracles. He convinces Caesar that he is able to fly, but eventually comes to believe in his own magic, jumps off a tower, and plummets to his death.
- In the 1995 film Dead Man Walking Matthew Poncelet has convinced himself that he didn't rape a girl and then brutally murder her and her boyfriend. He holds firm to this claim for a large part of the film. However, towards the end when he is pleading against his sentence to the death penalty he breaks down and admits that he did, in fact, commit the crime. While this could be seen as him admitting what he already knew, it is far more likely that he purposely suppressed those memories and began to believe his own lies. Thankfully he redeems himself at the end.
- Marcy seems genuinely surprised by the rashes she finds on her back, shortly after assuring Paul that she was perfectly healthy in Cabin Fever. Even after seeing the rashes, she seems to convince herself that they are just marks left from when he grabbed her.
- The Informant: The Reveal of the film is that the main character is a compulsive liar with an extraordinary talent for self-deception.
- Walter, ultimately in Big Eyes. He insists he's an artist and continues to do so until his death, even after Margaret uncovers signatures on his paintings that prove they were really just mass-produced tourist souvenirs from France.
- David Weber:
- Honor Harrington:
- Cordelia Ransom is the head of the Office of Public Information for the People's Republic of Haven. She is the one who manages the PRH's propaganda, and in In Enemy Hands Citizen Admiral Thomas Theisman is horrified to realize that she seems to genuinely believe every word she broadcasts, and we see that her fellow heads of state are very concerned that Ransom believes her own propaganda.
- The Masadans also believe things happened in a way that can't possibly be true, all so that they can hold their women in less than slavery and continue to pursue their goal of destroying Grayson.
- The "Archangels", especially Langhorne and Bédard. They set up a Path of Inspiration specifically to keep humanity from developing technology again, in violation of the original plans for their mission, in part to satisfy their own megalomania. Pei Kau-Yung grew concerned that they had actually come to believe they were angels.
- This is, and is lampshaded as, the single creepiest attribute of Grand Inquisitor Zhaspahr Clyntahn. No matter what he does, he can come up with a justification for why it's the best course of action for everyone, and not just for him personally. This justification often requires blatant disregard of facts he knows and doesn't know everyone else knows, and sometimes even facts he knows they know. He seems to have compartmentalized his mind to such a degree that he can think himself innocent even as he knows he's guilty. There's a scene in the third book where he and his fellows debate the proper course of action in response to a murder apparently committed by the protagonists. As the meeting goes on, the others slowly realize one by one that Clyntahn paid the assassins, just so the protagonists would be blamed, but at any intimation the others make of this he's as indignant as if his conscience was spotless.
- Honor Harrington:
- In the Kurt Vonnegut novel Cat's Cradle, Bokonon and Earl McCabe, rulers of the fictional West Indian country San Lorenzo, create a new religion, Bokononism, in order to improve their subjects' lives. To increase the new religion's appeal to the masses, McCabe outlaws its practice upon pain of death (while practicing it in secret), whereupon Bokonon "flees" into the jungle, a "wanted" man. Over time, however, the two men become so habituated to their respective roles in the charade that they go insane and become enemies for real.
- Double Think from Nineteen Eighty-Four, without which the entire system would collapse: The ability to consciously lie and tell propaganda, yet at the same time believe every word of it.
- The Lord of the Rings:
- Gollum really believes that the ring was supposed to be his birthday gift. However, the ring is shown to corrupt every being who bears it, given a long enough time period. A major element of this corruption is that all it takes is close proximity to the ring to make a being eventually come to believe that they deserve to have it; that it is right and true and fair that they possess and wield it.
- In fact, this is part of how Gandalf first starts to suspect the truth about the Ring: He notices Bilbo's story of how he got the Ring has changed (even though there was nothing unethical about the original version), and that Bilbo seems to have convinced himself of the new version. The Ring made him need to justify his possession of it so much that the truth was never good enough. Not unlike Gollum.
- The Olivia Goldsmith novel The Bestseller has Daniel and Judith writing a crime novel (Judith actually doing most of the work as she's a far better writer) but, to sell it properly, Daniel takes on the identity of "Jude Daniel," the sole author. The plan is to wait until the book is published to reveal the truth but Daniel is soon seduced, first by his editor, then by the New York publishing lifestyle, loving the acclaim of a supposed bestseller, the big advance paydays and parties. This takes its toll on his marriage to a pregnant Judith and during a huge fight, Judith realizes Daniel honestly has convinced himself that he alone wrote the book, she contributed barely anything and he'll fight her in court. It's all moot as the book turns into a massive bomb, Daniel gets the blame and his standing in New York plummets as he's already blown through most of the advance money and quit his job. The novel ends with Judith ready to publish a sure hit while Daniel is left drifting in a bad teaching job.
- A minor character, Mrs. Luxmore, in the Agatha Christie novel Cards on the Table. This led to Major Despard being part of Mr Shaitana's collection of uncaught murderers, because she'd convinced herself he'd killed for her. To elaborate: Mr. Luxmore was a botanist who hired Major Despard as a guide to a jungle tour. During the trip, Mrs. Luxmore made advances on Despard, who did not reciprocate. Mr. Luxmore suffered from a bout of fever and fell into delirium one night. Major Despard followed with his rifle, intending to merely take down the raving Luxmore without hurting him. Mrs. Luxmore surprised him and believed he was about to kill the botanist for her, so she tackled Despard, changing his nonlethal shot into a killing one.
- Must be the case with Nozdryov in Dead Souls, who tells a lot of bullshit, even in court. You'll have to read it to see how much he BSs.
- Because of their tendency to lose their old memories to The Fog of Ages, the Marra of The Madness Season who live for too long under a particular cover story eventually wind up believing it, to the point that they actually think that they are mortal and can die.
- In James P. Hogan's Giant's Star, the leaders of a race of Transplanted Humans has been concocting false reports of a dangerously warlike Earth, in order to get permission (from the alien civilization that transplanted them) to neutralize the threat. The protagonists counter this by hacking into the schemers' central computer and making it think that Earth actually was militarized and ready to kick their asses. This left the enemy leaders in a state of befuddlement that escalated into panic as the reprogrammed computer insisted that it had been reporting about the danger for years and didn't understand why no adequate defenses had been prepared.
- Discussed in Liar:
Yet that's not the worst danger of being a liar. Oh no. Much worse than discovery, than their sense of betrayal, is when you start to believe your own lies.When it all blurs together.You lose track of what's real and what's not. You start to feel as if you make the world with your words. Your lies get stranger and weirder and denser, get bigger than words, turn into worlds, become real.You feel powerful, invincible.
- A rare positive example in The Stormlight Archive's Lightweavers. For these people, Believing Their Own Lies really can make those lies truth.
- This is a key plot-point in The Dagger and the Coin: the priests of the spider goddess have the magic power to make anyone who hears their voices believe whatever they say. This includes themselves. As a result, they become completely certain that they are invincible and can conquer the whole world. At the same time, once they are divided in multiple temples in multiple cities, each group starts to become completely certain of its own particular version of the faith, and just as certain that the other temples are all heretics. As such, their empire begins to come apart.
- In Edgedancer, Nale has managed to convince himself that the next Desolation is not coming, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, including things he sees with his own eyes. Subverted as it turns out he has mounting doubts and is desperate to convince himself that the Desolation isn't real. Unfortunately for him, the lies don't take as well as he would wish them to.
Live Action TV
- Game of Thrones:
- Joffrey seems to truly think of himself as a magnificent and heroic king, constantly boasting of crushing his enemies even though his faction's success is entirely founded on the competence of his uncle and grandfather, and in spite of Joffrey's interference.
- Making honest feelings do dishonest work is one of Cersei's many gifts. Oberyn and Tyrion even discuss this after Cersei brings up her daughter in a blatant attempt to gain sympathy.
- Stargate SG-1:
- The Goa'uld are such Large Hams that it's impossible to believe they don't actually think they're gods. Ba'al and Anubis stand out, and have the advantage, by being smart enough to remember they're not really gods. And even Anubis sometimes falls victim to this trope...and given that his half-ascended nature makes him more "god-like" than the rest, that shouldn't come as a surprise. Ba'al, however, doesn't even keep up the pretense of pretending to be a god when he's among characters who know the truth.
- An early episode, "The First Commandment," featured the commander of an SGC team who fell into this trap himself and had to be put down by SG-1. In this case, though, the man had also likely gone insane from over-exposure to the planet's incredibly harsh UV radiation.
- The Ori, being fully ascended beings who can enhance their already-immense power through prayer, likewise believe themselves to be gods. The problem is, they pretty much are (what with the immortality, non-corporeality, and nigh-omniscience and omnipotence), raising the issue of exactly what defines a "god" if the Ori don't qualify. The good guys don't ever really come up with a fully satisfactory answer, but they do sway a few of the Ori's followers by demonstrating that while the Ori have the power of gods, they certainly don't behave like the loving and benevolent overlords they claim to be.
- This is a possible interpretation of Sue Sylvester from Glee, seeing as how she keeps up the crazy claims even in her own diary.
- Midsomer Murders has two guys running a spiritual center for years, only for one of them (the guru) to start believing in all his New Age-inspired nonsense, to the chagrin of his partner who wants to lead a different life.
- One of the villains (a cult leader) from an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit started to believe his own hype and go a bit A God Am I. This caused his followers to turn on him.
- When Kamen Rider Double's Detective Jinno was a beat cop, he had the effect of inducing this in others by being so gullible that the delinquents lying to him to get out of trouble would end up Believing Their Own Lies. It's a Crowning Moment of Funny when, after repeatedly distracting Jinno with claims of a UFO, a young Shoutarou eventually ended up searching for UFOs with him. And a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming when a girl in a group of teenage vigilantes lying about having given up fighting, but having to do so to save her friends. Jinno believed her so wholeheartedly that she genuinely did give up fighting after that.
- On Seinfeld George gives Jerry some advice on being a Consummate Liar and beating a lie-detector test with this little gem: "It's not a lie if you believe it."
- Vince Gilligan says that the writers of Breaking Bad consider this to be Walter White's greatest talent.
"We always say in the writers’ room, if Walter White has a true superpower, it’s not his knowledge of chemistry or his intellect, it’s his ability to lie to himself. He is the world’s greatest liar. He could lie to the pope. He could lie to Mother Teresa. He certainly could lie to his family, and he can lie to himself, and he can make these lies stick. He can make himself believe, in the face of all contrary evidence, that he is still a good man."
- The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "A Matter of Perspective" is told in "Rashomon"-Style. Riker is accused of murdering a scientist and attempting to assault his wife, and a holodeck simulation is rigged up for each of the witnesses. These scenes all drastically contradict each other but Deanna, the Enterprise Counsellor (and conveniently, also an Empath), says that each person believes their story to be true so far as they remember it.
- One episode of NUMB3RS had a mob killer who wanted to make a confession, but while he passed the polygraph and even an MRI scan, the confession didn't match the facts. It turned out he'd been so horrified by the crime (which he hadn't even been able to commit) that he'd combined it in his head with a much cleaner kill from a different occasion, and genuinely believed that was what happened.
- Cyric, the God of Lies from Forgotten Realms, guided a mortal author to write a book called the Cyrinishad which would make anyone who read it or hears it read aloud believe that Cyric was the greatest of all gods. He then read it himself, and fell victim to its enchantments, bringing his megalomania to new heights. For a time, he saw his enemies as too "insignificant" to care and even got Madness in his portfolio. Later it was discovered that the only way to get rid of this for a deity involves a drop in Divine Ranks.
- The Balseraph demons from In Nomine essentially have this as the core aspect of their character. As fallen Angels of Truth, they become Demons of Deception, capable of weaving lies that others end up believing without question. But to do this, a Balseraph must first convince himself of the lie, warping his own personal truth to reflect the lie. For example, a Balseraph trying to convince a bar bouncer that he's a VIP must first convince himself that, "Yes, I'm a VIP, and I've been at this club dozens of times. Why isn't that bouncer letting me in already?"
- Desus in Exalted honestly believes his own Villain with Good Publicity reputation, because he's affected by the same mind-manipulating magic that forces everyone else to rationalize his horrible actions away.
- In Rifts, the Coalition States High Command likes to blame all the ills in the world on magic and non-humans. In the beginning it was just a convenient Scapegoat Emperor Prosek and his advisers used in order to grab more power. However, they've been telling their people the Big Lie for so long that they now believe it themselves.
- Asura's Wrath: The game's plot is kicked off with the other members of the Eight Guardian Generals assassinating Emperor Strada and framing Asura for it. Throughout the rest of the game, the Guardian Generals, now the Seven Deities, repeatedly call Asura a traitor without irony, indicating that they themselves have come to believe that Asura really did assassinate the Emperor over the millennia.
- In the on-line game, War Of Legends, most of the Paladins honestly believe they are gods and that the game couldn't have been even thought of without them. Adding to the fact, they believe they won battles they clearly lost and make up excuses to avoid having to claim defeat while not letting others use the exact same excuses.
- Captain Martin Walker in Spec Ops: The Line believes his own lies regarding his bombing of a civilian camp with white phosphorus, because he cannot accept what he has done.
- Celestia Ludenberg in Dangan Ronpa, also known as 'Queen of Liars' and 'Super High-School Gambler', is capable of lying in a way that she could even believe own lies. Or so she claims. However, based on her free time events, we could probably guess that she probably also LIED on her identity and history, which are based on highly daring and impossible events you can only find in fictions, and her real name was a much more common 'Taeko Yasuhiro'. She got so over in her lies that she believed that she really is born as 'Celestia Ludenberg'.
- Zachary Comstock in Bioshock Infinite first used Rosalind Lutece's invention to look into alternate realities and predict the future so as to set himself up as God's prophet. Somewhere along the way, he began to buy into his own act. Besides the quote below, though, it's telling that even after it's revealed that his prophetic abilities are mostly derived from the Luteces' machine, he still refers to his visions as having come from an "Archangel".
Rosalind Lutece: When I met Comstock, he was little more than a preacher, able to move both members of the flock or members of Congress with equal dexterity. He believed in my work, and his influence bought the funds I so needed. And if he wanted to use Tears to play prophet, that was his prerogative. But at some point, the man became incapable of distinguishing his performance from his person.
- Taken Up to Eleven in the "Burial at Sea" DLC set in Rapture, where that dimension's Booker is revealed to be an alternate version of Zachary Comstock who fled to the underwater city and assumed the private detective's identity to escape the guilt he felt over causing the death of an alternate version of Elizabeth. The deception was so thorough that Comstock truly believed he WAS that world's Booker. As Rosalind Lutece puts it, Comstock was never one to own up to his own errors.
- Injustice: Gods Among Us: After the Joker nukes Metropolis and uses the Scarecrow's fear gas to trick Regime Superman into killing Lois Lane, Regime Superman kills him with his bare hands and subsequently convinces himself that it was "one death to save millions of lives." Of course, anyone who saw it can tell right away that he was motivated by vengeance, not justice.
- Then there is later in the game where is planning to destroy several cities because they are starting to rebel against his Totalitarianism Rule. He believes they reject his safety and are ungrateful so they don't deserve to live.
- Metal Gear:
- Referenced in the credits song for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. There's a part of the lyrics which states "Even men with the greatest intentions can end up believing their own lies." This illustrates a common theme in the context of the story where multiple characters are well intentioned extremists who want to change the world through very drastic measures, including even the main protagonist Raiden who uses extreme violence to punish organizations, harshly and permanently, that he views to be evil. The dissonance comes from Raiden viewing himself to be an enforcer of justice, while using arguably evil methods to reach those goals; how can a man claiming to uphold justice feel like a good person knee deep in bodies?
- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain: Huey seems to have deluded himself into believing that he really didn't know that the "nuclear inspection" he arranged for MSF during Ground Zeroes was actually a Trojan Horse operation run by XOF. Taken to ludicrous extremes when he continues to adamantly insist that Strangelove was Driven to Suicide even in the face of solid evidence that he locked her up in the Peace Walker A.I. pod to suffocate. Ocelot even lampshades this on a cassette tape, remarking that the hardest man to break is "the kind that's fooling himself."
- The Order of the Stick:
- This was one of the critical flaws of Miko Miyazaki. She was fundamentally incapable of seeing herself in the wrong, and would frequently convince herself of whatever she had to in order to keep it that way even after the gods themselves strip her of all her Lawful Good based powers.
- Additionally, Ian Starshine (Haley's father) raised his little girl in a Wretched Hive and taught her to lie at every opportunity whenever asked about herself. He's so paranoid he's incapable of taking people at their word and will invent elaborate scenarios which justify his ridiculous position and seems to totally believe them.
- In Katamari, Ace is completely convinced that the Prince is a prideful, selfish Attention Whore who'll do whatever it takes to come out on top. In other words, he thinks the Prince is just like him.
- In one of the Las Lindas side-stories, a young tribal girl tries to set up an outsider as a god so that she can leave her island. And then the gophers that Minos threw with his super-strength start falling from the sky. She ends up getting a job at Las Lindas a few months later to follow Idward.
- In the furry comic, Tina's Story, Tina's stepfather, Stan, confesses to her that He is her biological father. The story Tina had been told her whole life - that her mother had been raped by a human - was a lie they told to cover the fact that Missy, Tina's mother, was underage when she became pregnant. Missy eventually started accepting that lie as truth and developed a deep hatred of humans as a result. Stan confesses this because Tina is engaged to and pregnant by a human male, and Stan didn't want that lie hanging over Tina's marriage or her children's lives.
- Immortals in El Goonish Shive are bound by their word. If they make a vow and knowingly break it, they're plagued by constant mental reminders of their oathbreaking until it's rectified. Loophole Abuse is one way around this, but only if the Immortal himself sincerely believes the loophole is not breaking their word. When an Immortal declares that the best thing he can do in the name of his vow to one of the protagonists is absolutely nothing, he waits to see if there's any effect before being glad he believes his own hype.
- Master Shake of Aqua Teen Hunger Force seems to be pretty good at this. In the third episode of the first season, Bus of the Undead, he completely makes up a story about how the school bus parked outside the Aqua Teen's house is "a reverse vampire" and "possessed by the ghost of Dracula," because he was watching Assisted Living Dracula at the time. Despite the fact that this is entirely his own invention, he proceeds to operate throughout the rest of the episode as if everything he made up was real, to the point where he runs screaming back into the house after a failed attempt to "drive this stake deep into the heart of the crankcase of the vampire bus."
- An episode of South Park involves Jimmy coming up with a gay fish joke. Cartman was lying on the couch the entire time and at first, he claims both he and Jimmy made it up together. Eventually he starts claiming he was the only one who wrote the joke while Jimmy was the one on the couch, and each time the story is told, he adds an increasingly outlandish event to it. It turns out he really does believe his own lies.
- This happens again in "Jewpacabra", where Cartman spreads vicious rumors about a Hebrew-based monster attacking at Easter. Somewhere along the way, Cartman starts to believe his own story, hiding in fear of being attacked.
- Angelica of Rugrats usually torments the younger babies by lying to them about some mundane thing to make it seem terrifying. Correspondingly, her comeuppance often involves circumstances making her think she was right:
Angelica (sobbing): It's true! It's true! You can get sucked down the drain!
- After tricking Chuckie into thinking a disease she made up is turning him into a rhinoceros, a horn-shaped bump on her head, along with gray-colored scabs on her legs, leads her to think that she has contracted "rhinoceritis".
- After all the babies come down with chicken pox, Angelica convinces them that they'll all turn into actual chickens. By the end of the episode, she herself has contracted the pox, and when an egg falls into her car seat, she freaks out and believes that she's turning into a chicken herself.
- She tried to convince the babies that the sky is falling, and ends up believing it herself after a stray tennis ball falls on her head.
- Stu and Didi give Tommy's old toys to Dil, and Angelica tells Tommy that once his parents give all of his old stuff to Dil, he'll disappear. In the end, Susie explains that a person doesn't disappear from giving away hand-me-downs. Angelica expresses her thankfulness on being an only child, and thus gets to keep all of her stuff, but then her dad comes by and tells her that he and Charlotte have decided to give all of her old stuff to Tommy. This causes Angelica to scream in fear that she'll disappear once her parents give all of her old stuff to Tommy.
- After an incident where Tommy accidentally loses one of his toys down the drain, Angelica scares Tommy and Chuckie by saying they could suffer the same fate. Throughout the episode they try to find ways to get out of it, which includes flushing anything bath time related down the toilet. Ironically, she accidentally flushes her own doll, Cynthia, down the toilet. The plumber recovers it, but the doll is ruined.
- Sponge Bob Square Pants: The episode "I'm With Stupid" has SpongeBob and Patrick come up with a plan to make Patrick's parents believe that SpongeBob is a complete idiot so that Patrick will look smarter by comparison. Unfortunately, Patrick takes it too seriously and soon ends up believing that he truly is a genius and SpongeBob really is dumb.
- The Powerpuff Girls episode "Cootie Gras" had Mojo learning that the girls fear cooties and using their slovenly classmate Harry Pitts to scare them off so he can take over Townsville. The only problem is he starts to genuinely believe the cooties are real, and uses the kid in a trap to defeat the girls. All it does it get them to realize the truth. The girls leave Harry Covered in Kisses and fly off to defeat Mojo.
- In an episode of Sonic Boom, Knuckles starts bragging that he defeated Eggman by himself, won over the girls, and was elected governor while Sonic cowardly ran away. When everyone points out that's not how it happened, he brushes them off and starts thinking up his acceptance speech as governor.
- In Season Five of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, we have the character Starlight Glimmer, who preached in the idea that one didn't need their Cutie Mark to be happy. When she was exposed as a hypocrite, she still maintained her beliefs. The Freudian Excuse revealed at the end of Season Five would show why she had more than proper reasoning to believe this.
- False memory syndrome, a condition in which a person's identity and relationships are affected by memories which are factually incorrect but are strongly believed. This is a common trait of compulsive liars.
- L. Ron Hubbard
- Possible subversion? L-Ron himself never intended Scientology to be an actual religion. He wrote it as a science fiction novel. So this is a case of other people believing someone's lies.
- He supposedly wrote it to win a bet with fellow sci-fi author Robert A. Heinlein, on whether a sci-fi writer could actually start a "cult of personality" around their works. Supposedly, Stranger in a Strange Land was Heinlein's attempt. The story goes that Heinlein backed off when he saw that it was working, while Hubbard did not. The rumor dates from over a decade before the Manson Family murders and People's Temple incident highlighted how abusive personality cults actually were, eventually leading to the discovery that the supposedly "good" personality cults of Stalin and Mao were actually much worse than propagandists made them seem at the time. There is no proof of the bet, though there are several witnesses who overheard their discussion (or claim to have). In any case, Hubbard himself quickly acclimated to his new role as cult leader, and many of Scientology's most successful practices (especially the "Attack the Attacker" policy that causes most of the controversy) were instituted on his explicit orders. Whether Hubbard ever came to actually believe in his own lies is debatable, but he certainly came to believe that profiting off the actions of the literal cult he created was perfectly ethical, regardless of the lives they destroyed in the process, as long as it remained legal.
- Going Clear presents pretty conclusive evidence that at some point Hubbard began using his own doctrine as a means to deal with his increasing mental instability: as the author points out, a mere scammer would have at some point taken the money and ran but instead, Hubbard spent the last years of his life obsessively coming up with new OT levels and auditing himself for hours on end. At one point, he even asked one of his followers to build him a suicide machine since he believed it would be the only way to expel a powerful thetan (an alien spirit) that had attached to Hubbard's body (the follower's machine simply blew up harmlessly).
- Hubbard asked the military to provide him with the citation records of the combat medals he'd earned in every theater of World War II. This surprised the military, as Hubbard had never served in combat, and only served in the Pacific theater.
- Possible subversion? L-Ron himself never intended Scientology to be an actual religion. He wrote it as a science fiction novel. So this is a case of other people believing someone's lies.
- The Nazis.
- To glue the new enemy to the old one, Nazi propaganda made up Josef Stalin's imaginary 3rd wife — "Rosa Kaganovich". When Yakov Dzhugashvili was captured and interrogated they asked him about his father's private life, including this imaginary "last wife", which suggests that they saw her as real. By some accounts, they even mistook Yakov himself for her son. Unusual in that this fairy tale survived longer than its authors — after the war this "secret wife" eventually turned into "Dr. Rosa Kaganovich Stalin" and even "mother" of Yeltsin's wife.
- The Nazi-propagated belief that Hitler was some kind of infallible genius and Germany's God-appointed savior. As time went on and Hitler racked up achievement after achievement (rearming Germany, taking over Austria and Czechoslovakia, "solving" Germany's economic problems), he started to believe it himself. It got to the point where German officials of the era are often seen in the memoirs of those who had deal with them as completely deprived of critical thinking. Historian Ian Kershaw wrote extensively on the so-called "Hitler Myth"; he calls this moment "the beginning of the end for the Third Reich".
- The Nazi Ambassador to Britain genuinely believed that the abdication of the allegedly pro-Nazi Edward VIII and replacement by the much less friendly George VI was the result of a Jewish/Masonic conspiracy. He also believed that the abdication would precipitate a civil war between Edward's supporters and parliament. It wasn't, and it didn't.
- The so-called 'planning' for Unternehmen Barbarossa i.e. the German invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II. Where to start...
- Logistics department says it's insane, they'll only have enough fuel to sustain combat operations for two months. Solution? The entire war will last two months.
- Head of Logistics asks what happens if the war isn't over in two months? Head of General Staff, Halder, laughs and says "and what if it is?"
- Three teams work on operational plans for an offensive war with USSR. All three conclude that The Red Army will be totally destroyed within two months and that Soviet resistance will collapse at this point, allowing German forces to use the railroads to more or less ride straight to Leningrad, Moscow, Kuiybyshev, and Baku and take them all in just a month.
- One study concedes the possibility that some "limited, minor" Soviet resistance may continue from Soviet Asia, but thinks it unlikely.
- All studies predict that supply problems identified by Head of Logistics (lack of food, fuel, trains for troops) will be ameliorated by support from local populations. No studies anticipate any kind of rebellion or partisan warfare.
- This might have even been possible, as the people were not happy under the repressive rule of Stalin. However the Nazis implemented their own equally repressive, alienating the people and ensuring partisan resistance.
- Most fundamentally, no-one ever suggests that Barbarossa might fail and that the Soviet Union will respond to their 'War of Annihilation'/'Total War' with a 'Total War' of their own. In reality they end up taking four months to take the objectives (Minsk, Riga, Smolensk, Kiev) they'd expected to take in the first two months - and by then their panzer and motorised forces are down to half-strength (rather than being at or close to full-strength, as the plans had 'predicted'). Halder wins a colossal argument with Hitler (who thinks it's risky and pointless) and manages to get these depleted forces immediately thrown into an attempt to take Moscow.
- Head of Logistics protests, because they are only barely able to get enough food and fuel to the front to keep the men from starving and the panzers running, and there's very little ammo making it through. This means there is no room for spare parts for the panzers (which means that even ones with the most minor and easily-repaired damage are put out of action) or for winter equipment and clothing. Halder says that Moscow will be taken before winter sets in, and when they do then the Soviets will surrender and they can transport the clothing to them instead of ammunition and fuel.
- Conclusion: In 1940-41 Germany pioneered a miraculous new solution to logistical constraints: Racial Superiority.
- Imperial Japan.
- When World War II began to 'go south', the Army and Navy of Imperial Japan took its constant and comprehensive lying about the losses it inflicted and raised them to new heights. While censorship and propaganda was a given in the media of Imperial Japan, especially since the outbreak of war in 1937, the post-1941 situation was unique in that the country's military leadership also began to deceive itself when reporting the outcome of various actions as well as its overall strength and disposition (and that of the enemy). Only a tiny handful of individuals at the very top of both services actually knew what was going on concerning any one issue like troop strength or aircraft production or food reserves - the Showa Emperor ensured that full knowledge of the war effort was known only to General Tojo and himself (and, when Tojo fell, 'just' himself). note Although decades of 'reading between the lines' meant the Japanese people knew things were going to hell, the true extent to which the country was on the verge of total socio-economic-demographic collapse and military defeat (i.e. a few months)note It still came as a shock to many upon the Empire's surrender.
- Hell, when the Emperor declared surrender, several of his generals were so certain they could still win that they plotted his assassination. This was after Nagasaki.
- Imperial Japan also highlights the problem with governments doing this so reflexively that they forget a fundamental truth: You can fool some of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool ALL of the people ALL of the time. The people get so used to it that they become experts at reading between the lines. As another troper already pointed out, the problem with the Japanese government proclaiming that every battle with the enemy resulted in a "great victory" was that any Japanese citizen with access to a map could plainly see that every "great victory" was getting closer and closer to the home islands. Food was getting hard to find. Supplies were being rationed. Where were all those American bombers coming from? Why wasn't damage from the bombing being repaired right away? Why aren't our soldiers and sailors coming home after these "great victories" to celebrate? Towards the end of the war, every thinking Japanese citizen was fully aware of how much trouble their country was in.
- Korsakov's Syndrome. It's a form of amnesia brought on by excessive alcohol abuse. To cover up for their forgetting, patients will invent information that sounds highly plausible to everyone else and eventually come to believe it themselves.
- There is an epigram assigned to Lenin that may or may not be apocryphal which goes "A lie told often enough becomes the truth."
- This saying has also been attributed to Trotsky, Stalin and Josef Goebbels.
- Beam Me Up, Scotty!: It actually comes from Joseph Goebbel's Propaganda Principle of orchestration.
"Propaganda must be limited to a small number of ideas and be repeated tirelessly, presented over and over again from different perspectives but always converging on the same concept. No cracks or doubt". Indeed, the 'original' phrase would be more along the lines of "the bigger the lie, the harder it is to disprove".
- Beam Me Up, Scotty!: It actually comes from Joseph Goebbel's Propaganda Principle of orchestration.
- The phrase "The bigger the lie, the more likely people will believe it." also appears in Hitler's Mein Kampf.
- This saying has also been attributed to Trotsky, Stalin and Josef Goebbels.
- Human memory is plastic, malleable. Combine this with the fact that people aren't actually that observant, and a "memory" will warp and shift over time as the story of it gets altered to 1) be more consistent with itself (wait, X couldn't have happened before Y, so Y must have happened first), 2) be more consistent with other things the person believes (wait, wasn't Dave in Aruba? It must have been Bob), and 3) remain consistent with the person's beliefs about himself (I'd never say something like that. I must have said something else.). It can reach the point where siblings will each remember a highly specific event which could only have happened to one of them.
- The above is one reason eyewitness testimony and even confessions aren't 100% reliable, even when the person providing it is trying to be sincere. Then consider that the results of quite a few court cases were (and still are) due almost entirely to eyewitness testimony and confessions. Including cases where the defendants' lives were on the line.
- Henry VIII. His massive ego and self-righteous conviction changed him from Europe's 'golden prince' to the tyrant we remember today. He managed to convince himself that he was the rightful head of the church, that Anne Boleyn had cheated on him with several men, and that some of his closest advisors (Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Moore, and Thomas Cromwell) were conspiring against him. All of these lies were very self-serving, but he fought for them with such conviction because he persuaded himself that they were true, and very few around him dared to contradict him.
David Starkey: Oh dear, people don't understand Henry at all, do they? The best and most convincing liars believe their own lies. Henry had an amazing gift of persuading himself that whatever is convenient is true.
- Some psychologists have postulated this as the reason why sociopaths feel no guilt or remorse over the lies they tell—they've twisted things around so much that in their mind, they might genuinely think that they're telling the truth or at the very least, are in the right regarding the situation in question.