To be perfectly honest, this seems to be a prime time for lies, mistruths and pants on fire. We have to navigate fake news constantly, while dodging conspiracy theorists, antivaxxers and misleading anti-abortion activists on social media. Last week, the Washington Post calculated that Donald Trump had told his 10,000th lie while in office. Theresa May, meanwhile, clearly didn’t believe former defence secretary Gavin Williamson’s protestations that he wasn’t responsible for the National Security Council leak, hence Williamson’s extreme step of swearing on his children’s lives that he wasn’t guilty.
And what about the rest of us? How many of our #livingmybestlife Instagram posts are, to put it charitably, putting a positive spin on things?
Are we living in an age where lies are acceptable? Robert Feldman, professor in the department of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts and author of The Liar in Your Life, says he thinks we are. “I do feel that it’s become more acceptable to lie. Presidents – even ones you don’t like – are role models, and if you see someone with high prestige who constantly lies and gets away with it, as seems to be the case, it’s providing a model of what’s acceptable. I used to talk about Bill Clinton as the president who made lying acceptable and yet what happened was, he got away with it.”