Segments in this Video

America's Big Lies (03:10)


Bill Moyer comments on the pervasive nature of lying and American politics, and the American public's acceptance of lies. A video montage shows the explosion of "Challenger" and scenes from the Vietnam War.

Can Lying Be Justified? (06:08)

Dr. Paul Ekman, psychologist and expert on deception, discusses lying as both concealment and deliberate deception. Most people lie to avoid getting into trouble. Children talk about "good" lies, and Oliver North justifies his public lies.

Deception in Family Life (03:06)

Parents, children, and deception experts discuss the types of lies that permeate families and why truth is often hidden. A psychologist talks about "vital lies."

Lying to Meet Basic Human Needs (04:06)

People build up "myths" from childhood about themselves to keep from feeling pain of the truth. A family faces the truth about itself in a support group where they can face the truth without rebuke or devastating consequences.

Public Mind: "Groupthink" (02:29)

A psychologist discusses "groupthink" in context of the Bay of Pigs invasion during the Kennedy administration. The "public mind," he argues operates with the same blind spots as the individual mind.

National and Corporate Lie: Space Shuttle Disaster (08:55)

When Roger Boisjoly and other Morton Thiokol engineers warn about the potential for disaster and loss of human life on "Challenger," NASA resists the warnings and pushes to launch the Shuttle. As a result, seven astronauts lost their lives.

National Lie: NASA In Denial (03:34)

After its decision to launch the defective Space Shuttle and the subsequent loss of life, NASA claims the disaster was an accident. A physicist reveals NASA's deception and Morton Thiokol "reassigns" engineers that told the truth.

Lies and Watergate (05:06)

John Dean recalls the events before and after the Watergate break-in, Nixon's lies, his own refusal to lie, and his subsequent firing by Nixon.

Watergate Lies Bring Down the White House (03:22)

As Watergate unraveled, the "President's men" stayed loyal to Nixon, who fostered the warlike mentality of "us versus them."

National Lies, Vietnam, and President Lyndon Johnson (04:53)

Psychologist Ekman discusses how lies compound themselves and become more dangerous once set in motion. He uses the Vietnam War as an example of a national lie perpetuated by President Johnson that cost millions of lives.

Costs of the Vietnam War Lie (05:37)

The Americanization of the Vietnam War required Johnson to deceive the public in order to achieve political aims. Bill Moyers comments on Johnson's deceptions, the costs to him and the American people, and his "wishful thinking."

Comfortable Lie or Uncomfortable Truth? (03:55)

Moyers asserts that nations, like families, can die from too many lies. Beneath the distortion of lies in America today, there is hard reality such as the threat to Earth's environment. Americans seem to prefer comfortable lies to uncomfortable truths.

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The Truth About Lies

Part of the Series : The Public Mind
DVD Price: $99.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $149.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $99.95



The public mind is often deceived by those who manipulate it, and it deceives itself, as well. This program examines how deception has influenced some of the major events of our recent past and how self-deception shapes our personal lives and the public mind. Why do trusted people in public life lie to us and to themselves? Can a society die from too many lies? Do our institutions demand loyalty at the expense of the truth? The program explores such events as Watergate, the war in Vietnam, and the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, and reveals the pressures that led to the denial of truth and the distortion of reality. Among those interviewed are John Dean, former counsel to President Nixon, and Roger Boisjoly, a Morton Thiokol engineer who tried to postpone the launch of the Challenger. (60 minutes)

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL4935

ISBN: 978-1-4213-9851-8

Copyright date: ©1989

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

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Not available to Home Video customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.