Before Lance Armstrong confessed to doping, I blogged about the possibility of such a confession here: The Moral Implications of Lance Armstrong’s Possible Confession to Doping. In that post, I said:
I don’t fault Armstrong for doping, nor for lying about that to a quasi-governmental agency. However, if he sued people for millions for telling the truth about his doping… well, that’s remarkably sleazy. Even if he felt backed into a corner, that’s no excuse for abusing the law in order to intimidate people into silence.
However, after watching this video montage of his denials of doping, I couldn’t be so forgiving.
The basic problem is that he’s such a skilled and credible liar. That makes him worse than a bugling, incompetent liar. How so?
By the time that the skilled liar’s deceptions are finally exposed, he has zero credibility left. Given that he was so believable for so long, how can anyone trust him now? He might just be spinning a new web of lies. That seems like the most likely scenario, in fact. By lying effectively for so long, the skilled liar has utterly destroyed his character. He had to make a slew of ever-worse compromises in order to protect his lies from discovery, including maligning the good people who’ve discovered the truth about him. In Lance’s case, he sued people for defamation for telling the truth about him, which is even worse.
The abysmal liar is likely to get caught early. That’s to his benefit, in fact. He experiences the harms done by his lies early and often. His moral character has not been eroded over the course of years, so he’s more likely to be able to redeem himself.
Basically, skill in making yourself persuasive or believable to others is exactly the kind of moral amplifier that I’ll discuss at ATLOSCon in May. That skill helps a good person do better… and it helps a bad person do worse.