Home Concepts Ethics Cheating: The Act of Purposeful Lying

Cheating: The Act of Purposeful Lying

96 min read

William Bergquist, Ph.D. and Kevin Weitz, Psy.D.

At the time of writing this essay, the following news item was prominently repeated in numerous media outlets:

Fraudulent claims of college degrees, a non-existent real estate portfolio and confusion over whether he’s Jewish – or merely “Jew-ish” – are just some of the controversies New York Republican congressman-elect George Santos is facing just days before he’s due to be sworn in on 3 January.
Before winning his race in the November midterm election, the 34-year-old billed himself as “the full embodiment of the American dream”: An openly gay child of Brazilian immigrants who rose to the upper echelons of Wall Street before entering the world of politics.
His victory lap, however, has been short-lived.
Mr Santos’s narrative of his life has fallen into tatters, with the embattled soon-to-be representative admitting that large portions of it were entirely made up.
He now faces calls to resign amid federal and local investigations, and as new allegations of lies emerge on a nearly daily basis, with less than a week to go before he’s due to begin his duties on Capitol Hill”.
Who is George Santos and why is he in trouble? – BBC News

While the investigation into Mr. Santos is still unfolding, he has already admitted to numerous falsehoods (also known as blatant lies). Some of these seeming falsehoods are so obvious, it is hard to imagine how anyone – particularly in a position of public office – would ever think they could get away with this kind of lying. Clearly these falsehoods worked for enough time for him to be elected to public office – thousands of people believed him and voted for him.

This clearly is a powerful and disturbing example of lying. Furthermore, it was lying with a purpose—in this case offering a portrait of himself that would enable Mr. Santos to get elected to the U.S. Congress. We wish to assign a word to this act of purposeful lying. We are calling it Cheating.

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