Elizabeth Warren says Bernie Sanders once told her that a woman couldn’t win the presidency. Bernie Sanders says Elizabeth Warren is lying about the encounter. I have no idea whom to believe.
Some notable people on Twitter have wondered if maybe, considering all that happened during the #MeToo movement, society has a moral obligation to believe women in these male-female disagreements.
Well, whenever I try to make sense of these cultural dilemmas I turn to the always-dependable disciplines of social science. And studies have concluded that women — or is it men? or is there no difference? — are more likely to fib. One study that confirms my preexisting prejudices says that women might lie more, but they lie about all the right things. Men’s lies, for example, tend to be more “self-oriented” (“I have slept with dozens of women!”), while women’s lies are more prone to be “other-oriented” (“No, no, no, you look great in that sweater.”)
But this doesn’t really help me, either. Because even if someone could provide me with conclusive evidence that one gender lied more often than the other, there are still thousands of overriding factors that would make that fact irrelevant.
I’ll give you an example: A woman politician is surely more inclined to lie than a male podiatrist, because deceiving people is a skill that is more often, and effectively, utilized by elected officials than foot doctors. And Hillary Clinton, the highest-profile woman politician of our era, has already proven to be a far better liar than, say, Mitt Romney, and yet I still don’t assume women are less truthful than Mormons. (Here’s a study, by the way, that finds religious people are less inclined to lie, and here’s one that says they lie more often.)
Warren, of course, has been already been caught pushing a “self-oriented” lie that was used to bolster her career for decades, so she is clearly not above being dishonest. Then again, maybe we should just take each case individually and weigh the evidence in front of us?
This is why I will never believe “all women.” My baseline assumption is that everyone in the public square (52 genders and counting) is probably lying to me. Even in general, I refuse to accept the notion that men have any special standing ethical obligation to accept the veracity of a woman’s word over another man’s. To do so would be denigrating to men and patronizing to women, and completely irrational.