Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University
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Bent Flyvbjerg

Professor, Research Director, Dr. Techn., Dr. Scient., and Ph.D.

Notice: On April 1, 2009, Bent Flyvbjerg moved to University of Oxford. Flyvbjerg's Aalborg website is up to date until the time of his move. After this date, please see his site at Oxford:



What is Truth? What is Lying?

Truth is typically defined as "a statement proven to be or accepted as true," and for something to be proven or accepted as true it must be supported by validity claims. In science, as in democratic policy, the making of validity claims rarely has an endpoint at which absolute truth is established and further discussion of validity stopped. Truth is and should be contested. Such contest drives the scientific process, whether understood in terms of Kuhnian paradigm shifts or more generally in terms of competing validity claims.

The conventional definition of lying is "making a statement intended to deceive others." The word "intended" is central here. To simply deceive somebody is not necessarily lying, because deception may be unintended. Only if deception is deliberate is it lying. The fact that one needs to know about the intentions of actors in order to establish whether lying has taken place makes lying a particularly difficult research object.

Back to Main Page on the Relationship between Truth and Lying in Policy and Planning


Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University, Fibigerstraede 11 - 13, DK-9220 Aalborg East, Denmark, Phone: (+45) 96 35 80 80