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Headscratchers / The Invention of Lying

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  • The idea that, if we were all just "honest with ourselves", we would view all male-female romantic relationships in terms of eugenics, full stop. Um, no, sorry, love and other emotions may be messy and difficult to measure scientifically, but that doesn't make them "lies". And saying "I shouldn't be your lover and have your children because you're fat" isn't somehow "true" — it's still just an aesthetic opinion.
    • That said, in a world like that, establishing relationships initially might be difficult — you could argue that the first "I love you" in a relationship is a lie. (Maybe. If you feel like pushing it.) Also, there are lots of superficial people who, in our world, lie about their commitment, say they find you beautiful when they don't, etc — but their automatic filtering from the dating pool by their honesty would only be a good thing for ultimately finding one's Soul Mate (and for those people to motivate themselves to change). Jennifer Garner's character's problems with Gervais's weight and looks, and Rob Lowe's I'm-rich snobbery are simply their characterizations, not some consequence of "honesty". (Does Gervais think his real-life long-time partner Jane Fallon is being "dishonest" with him for loving him?)
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    • Ultimately, perhaps Gervais is subconsiously trying to be fair to religion, which the movie otherwise attacks, by creating Strawman atheists who are Evilutionary Biologists. Maybe.
      • I don't even think it was subconsciously. While Gervais has a lot of fun at religion's expense, it does seem to show without it, sociopathy runs rampant. His stance seems to be that while religion was likely pulled from somebody's ass, the intentions were good, and people just muddled it like they muddle everything.
  • In a world where no one had lied until the twenty-first century, and there had (also depending on your view of religion) never been religion of any kind, the Butterfly Effect would have made things radically, radically different. None of the film's creators bothered to deal with the Alternate Universe possibilities.
    • As an above entry says, it appears the creators just wanted "Today + No Lying", and did just that. While, yes, Fridge Logic suggests the world would be radically different, the whole purpose of the film was not to explore an Alternate Universe, but just... no lying, as life exists today. Not having a go at you in general sorry, but one downside I've seen of being a Troper is that there comes a time, or a movie, that you just have to sit back and accept the premise as-is, and our superwired brains tend to not want to accept that as standard ;)
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    • This was the Fridge Logic that bugged me most. I could deal with most of the other bits of Fridge Logic on how lying affects the present day (yes, I know, my mind works oddly), but the fact that all the historical details in the films within the film were just as they happened in our history? There could've even been some extra bits of humor added in changing up those historical details ever so slightly...
      • Also, why would the people in this world use the Gregorian calendar? I guess they'd have just chosen the year 1 by chance...
    • Simple example: it seems quite unlikely that computer science, and hence computers, could have gotten started without the concept of "true vs. false", neither of which they have a word for; yet they have computers.
      • Not necessarily. We only call it "true/false" by convention; one could just as easily call it "yes vs. no". In general, most situations you'd call for a boolean value are basically telling the computer to answer a yes-no question and to do different things based on whether the answer is yes or no.
      • Maybe, but Boolean logic was in turn a formalization of the truth values of connectives, that is, how you can tell whether a sentence with "and" in it is true or not based on its parts. If you recreate that whole thing as "would the answer to the question version be yes or no", you've basically replicated "true" vs. "false".
      • Additionally, how would this world handle the entire branch of math dealing with "imaginary numbers"?
  • They go on and on about genetics, which seems to be about as important as it is in our world (that is, to a varying degree) but without tact to disguise it, but neither Gervais' character nor Garner's ever bring up the possibility of artificial insemination. It bothered me through half the movie that they seemed not to have any sort of genetic material banks, but then Gervais describes someone as a "sperm donor", so we know they do have at least the idea of them. Even if one or the other of them would be unhappy with having half-adopted children, you'd think that one of them would suggest it (Mark because Anna was so hung up on not risking having fat little kids with snub noses, Anna so she could be with the guy she liked and have attractive kids instead of some guy who would increase the probability of having attractive kids but not be a guy that she liked).
    • Also, while everyone says that they choose partners based on genes and financial security, then why is Ricky Gervais' character turned down in favor of the other guy? He's even wealthier, and the only genetic "advantage" the other guy has is that he's better-looking.
    • It should be remembered that, in addition to everyone being brutally honest, Anna is also quite shallow at this point. She values looks over substance.
      • Of course, in this world looks are the basic substance.
    • He was a bastard, but was good looking and had enough money to have their kids be well off. But Ricky Gervais' character was fat and had a snub nose.
  • I don't recall the exact words but when the rival screenwriter tells mark that his secretary called him an "overweight homosexual", she says that she didn't (instead, she called him a "fat faggot") and the rival says that he stands corrected. However, for the entire rest of the movie, everyone takes every word anyone else utters as completely and unquestionably accurate. No one, upon hearing Mark say something untrue ever considers the possibility that he's just mistaken. One would expect the bank teller at least to consider the possibility that he's misremembered his account balance and ask if he's positive it was $800 (what's he going to do, lie?) rather than leaping straight to the conclusion that the discrepancy is a computer error.
    • For me that scene pointed out a direction the movie could have taken regarding lying. The fact Mark's rival relayed "fat faggot" as the less offense "overweight homosexual", showed people's ability to be honest but in a less brutal fashion. His rival and secretary are both jerkasses so it makes sense they're brutally honest and don't mince words, especially because they hate Mark. Whereas later everyone is being a complete jerkass apparently because telling the truth means being as insulting as possible. As for the bank teller not giving a simple "are you sure?" in a world where people can still forget or misremember you've pointed out something a lot of people should have asked before they accepted his lies.

  • If the Coca-Cola ads are anything like the Coke ad shown, how would it become popular in the first place?
    • All the other products have adverts just as bad. Plus early on they could have said things like "It's a new drink, it's fizzy and I like the taste of it", or run taste tests and say that x% of people preferred it to some other drink, which might have convinced people to give it a shot. Nowadays pretty much everyone has tried Coke so there's a limit to how much they can say about it - real life Coke adverts tend to be generic image-based stuff rather than actually telling you anything about the product.
      • Why is it that the movie presents imagination as lying!? There's a huge difference between them.
      • No, there isn't. Not really. Imagination is thinking things which are not true, and if you can think those things, you can conceive of saying them. In order of people to not be able too lie (and for it not to make any less sense than it already does), they must be unable to think untrue things. This also explains why they are so unabashedly honest, they can't imagine causing other people to not know things.
      • Lying isn't the only thing this world is without. It lacks any sort of fiction at all, meaning that people only think/talk about what is real.
      • Which then begs the question of how the hell anything new was created in this world. If you can't imagine a car (which wouldn't be real before it was invented), how can you make one?
      • This can be Fridge Brilliance if you consider that most of the consumer products in the film are shown to be boring and unimaginative. The computers, monitors/televisions, stereo equipment... even the office decor. Humanity invented these things out of necessity, without any flair. It's more subtle than the advertisements in the film, which are more prominent in their mundaneness, but it goes along the same concept.
      • Maybe everything ever invented was either an accident or 'I wonder what would happen if I put all these things togrther'?
      • I suppose so. Up until anything is discovered or invented, they are seen as lies because no one's thought of them yet. But if no one thought to "put these things together" in a world where no one is capable of doing that, how would these cars even come about?
      • For that matter, how would ANYTHING happen? "Take a step forward? But I'm here, not there!" "Put this food in my mouth? But it's not in my mouth!"
      • You're confusing potential with absolutes, and your examples don't even make sense. The truth is you are here, but the potential is that you want to take a step so you can be there. Even in the movie, they use qualifying phrases. Mark isn't a "fat homo," but the secretary states that's what she thought was true of him. Inventing new things is about seeing the potential truth. "I think I can use tiny, controlled explosions to create a device capable of moving a carriage without needing horses."
  • The thing that really bugs me is when other characters believe things that are observably untrue. It's fine to believe him when his lies are unverifiable, but there are several instances where they choose to believe him over concrete evidence (the Breathalyzer, the bank statement). They don't even have to conceive of the possibility that he lied, just that he was wrong/mistaken.
    • It seems that the people of this world not only have no conception of falsehood, they also believe anything they're told over the evidence of their own senses. Like when Gervais' character first discovers lying, he tells his friend that he's not there. The friend, despite the fact that he can clearly see Gervais, believes that Gervais is not there. Perhaps they're more willing to believe that they're mistaken than the person they're talking to.
    • This line of reasoning only works with the understanding that lying exists. If you knew someone was completely incapable of stating anything but the truth, you would give their statements high credence because you have eliminated a variable in the situation. If you know that everyone only tells the truth, you're options are that they are lying or some other mistake has been made. Since we've already established that it's impossible they are lying, the only reasonable explanation is that some other mistake has been made.
    • The real killer is, there's another scene where Rob Lowe's character says that Ricky Gervais' secretary called him an "overweight homosexual." She states that she called him something more offensive, to which Rob Lowe's character says "I stand corrected." Clearly, people in the movie are capable of realizing they or another person was mistaken, and capable of pointing it out. They just don't ever believe Gervais is mistaken for some reason.
    • In the case of the teller should be notice that the system was just recently down, so maybe has something to do with that, she might thought that the mistake was theirs due to that. He also seems very certain that he has $800 which is quite reassuring. On other aspects IIRC when he says he's black to his friends in the bar they do doubt that (the bartender says: you look to lightskinned to be black), things like having a incredibly authentic looking wig or a prostetic arm are not impossible.
      • Actually, he says "you're a very lightskinned black, but I see it." So yeah, he believed him.
  • What's on TV? There seems to be lecture films, but besides news, sports, and documentaries, what is on that takes up all the space. It can't be adverts.
    • Probably just fewer channels.
    • Haven't you seen how many sports channels there are even in our world?

  • The idea that "no such thing as lying" = "people say whatever is on their mind". Omission, or just "not thinking to mention something", does not necessarily = lying.
    • I think it comes from two things. First many would classify a willing omission a lie of omission. Consider when one testifies in court, they swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Willfully omitting a fact violates this promise. Second, on a segue way I would think that the savagery of slavery was not always the same level in the Southern United States. From when it first started and as time went on, some actions received social acceptance and thus there being no qualms about said actions being done. Similarly in the ancient times, people could have been truthful and benign but those who came to power, as a cover for their insecurities, ridiculed their enemies with brutal honesty based on their exterior features as hitting their internal ones is damn near impossible. And so this practice of insulting based on exterior features evolved to the point that being anything but brutually honest on the exterior features is silly or weird. Consider the park scene when they were examining people where Mark was able to get Anna to fore-go her brutal honesty based on crude initial observations and examine the possibilities one could see in closer examination. Her honesty there is a benign honesty that is not harmful, not assuming first impressions were always correct, but still something she can accept saying unlike when she gets confused by Mark saying he made things up at the end.
  • For the Coke commercial, the actor takes a drink and says it's too sweet. Why didn't Coke just find an actor who didn't think it was too sweet? You are permitted an opinion in this world.
    • Perhaps they simply couldn't find anyone who thought that? Coke's a fairly sweet drink after all, and they presumably had a limited time to cast and produce it.
    • I figure it would require someone lying by omission somewhere along the line. Recording the commercial over until they got one that was purely positive would require them choosing to withhold information- which, as we see from many points in the film, people simply don't do, even if it makes them (or, less personally, the company for which they work) look bad.
    • Course, even saying that Coke is too sweet wouldn't send people flocking to Pepsi, since Pepsi is even sweeter than Coke.
  • The bank tells him that there must be a mistake - he must have $800 available, and they give it to him. If people can be mistaken, how come no one in the entire world thinks the protagonist must be innocently mistaken about the Man in the Sky?
    • Because it was the source of the information. As the teller implicitly knows humans cannot lie, that what ever he says must be true, then the error must lay with the computer where a person who last entered the figures for his account made a simple typing error. She simply took the most reasonable, to her anyway, explanation for the differing statements which was the computer was wrong.
      • Even so, you'd think the bank would have a policy in place to investigate where the mistake was made. If someone, through an innocent mistake, thought they had a million dollars in their account, would the teller just give them a million dollars?
      • It's possible that the bank did investigate after they check accounts at the end of the month and saw the difference, but he made a lot of money in the meantime and he probably put that money back in the account so most likely the bank just thought: Oh, this person or this teller made a mistake, we are going to take the difference out of his savings now. No damage done.
  • Mark was the one who "brought the words of the man in the sky" to the people. It's his image on the stained glass in the "church" and the necklace of the "clergyman". Yet he's sitting pretty far back in the pews. Wouldn't you think he'd be given a better spot, or asked to officiate?
    • No because Brad hates his guts and would never willingly give the fat guy with a stubby nose a position of power over him at anytime. Brad only accepted him there because he was a close friend to Anna and there was no way in his mind Anna would pick Mark over him, so there was no reason to not let him come and seeing the wedding would hurt Mark once more.
  • Are there no insane people in this world? If everyone was so gullible that they'd believe anything anyone told them, despite all evidence to the contrary, you'd think schizophrenia would be a dangerous memetic disorder here.
    • Oh, God.
    • Maybe every day, people have to go through the "Lord, Liar, Lunatic" trilemma for every person who says something that doesn't fit their perception of reality? But for them, it's a dilemma, since "Liar" is a literally unthinkable option. Thus, the symptoms of schizophrenia are a memetic condition (believing false things from sources that seem sane), and schizophrenia itself is still biological (generating false beliefs and evangelizing them), but it's normally fairly easy for them to tell the difference between insane people and people who are telling unexpected truths?
    • Maybe whatever cause this world's human not been able to lie is biological and Gervais' character is a mutant, and therefore the condition that causes schizophrenia (which is seeing things that are not truth) can't exist here, yet.
      • It very likely is a mutation, considering the only people who can lie are Mark and Mark's son, and no one else can even conceive the idea.
    • We do see the equivalent of a crazy man ranting on the sidewalk—however, none of what he says is inaccurate per se (he screams that "we're all animals" and that "this isn't natural" then launches into a series of rhetorical questions about civilized behavior). The implication seems to be that not only is lying impossible in this world, but also delusion.
      • Given that man was well dressed and clean shaven, I assumed he was just a normal worker going through this world's equivalent of a bad work day where a bunch of nihilistic thoughts become easy to accept as true.


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