Lies We Live By

Lies We Live By: Defeating Double-talk and Deception in Advertising, Politics and the Media – by Carl Hausman, Rouliedge Publishing, November 1999, 240 pages

Reviewed by – G.A. “Andy” Marken, Marken Communications Inc.,

“You can’t handle the truth!” Col. Jessup (Jack Nicholson) said defiantly from the stand in A Few Good Men.

But Lies We Live By starts out with the obvious statement that “It’s a sad truth that lies are becoming a part of everyday life.” So, is Mr. Hausman’s truth also a lie?

How do you respond to your spouse or significant other when they ask?

“ How do you like my new haircut/hairdo?”

“ Do you think this suit/dress makes me look fat?”

Fortunately though Mr. Hausman isn’t a zealot about the whole thing and doesn’t wrap himself in righteous indignation. Instead he is clear, engaging and at times very funny in his discussion and documentation of the deceptions we encounter (and occasionally use ourselves) in our everyday lives.

His popular version of a course we took in college called propaganda analysis doesn’t just focus on public relations practitioners though. He also “uncovers” misinformation dissemination in politics, business, medical practice, the media, the legal community, educational institutions and well…just about everyone.

For those interested in honing their talents while also seeing through the other person’s / organization’s deception, Hausman does an excellent job of explaining how deception works and at times why it is practiced. While he writes in a very readable fashion, he also has a lot of substance in his work. He gives some very good advice on what people should be on the alert for when it comes to footnotes, microscopic print and “factual” statistics.

While our industry gets its share of bumps and bruises in Lies We Live By, Hausman also points out a wide range of double-talk that we encounter as consumers ourselves. He also gives readers some sound advice on what they can do to halt some of the most offensive assaults on all of us.

Lies We Live By may not help you do a better job of hiding your misinformation and manipulating statistics, but it may help you see through the statements and documents you’re given by a lawyer, bank/lending institution or government official.

It may even help you develop just the right answer to “Does this suit/dress make me look fat?”


G. A. "Andy" Marken President Marken Communications, Inc. Santa Clara, CA Andy has worked in front of and behind the TV camera and radio mike. Unlike most PR people he listens to and understands the consumer’s perspective on the actual use of products. He has written more than 100 articles in the business and trade press. During this time he has also addressed industry issues and technologies not as corporate wishlists but how they can be used by normal people. He has been a marketing an...

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