„A lie will gallop halfway round the world before the truth has time to pull its breeches on.“

—  Cordell Hull, Memoirs of Cordell Hull (1948), 1:220 This is a variant of similar statements attributed earlier to Mark Twain, e.g., "A lie will fly around the whole world while the truth is getting its boots on." The oldest attribution (1831) is to Fisher Ames: “falsehood proceeds from Maine to Georgia, while truth is pulling on his boots”.
Cordell Hull photo
Cordell Hull
1871 - 1955

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„A lie can be halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on.“

—  James Callaghan Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; 1976-1979 1912 - 2005
Misattributed, Though widely quoted from his speech in the House of Commons, (1 November 1976) published in Hansard, House of Commons, 5th series, vol. 918, col. 976.; this is actually a very old paraphrase of a statement of the 19th century minister Charles Spurgeon: "A lie travels round the world while truth is putting on her boots." Even in the paraphrased form Callaghan used, it was in widely familiar, many years prior to his use of it, and is evidenced to have been published in that form at least as early as 1939.


„It's often been observed that the first casualty of war is the truth. But that's a lie, too, in its way. The reality is that, for most wars to begin, the truth has to have been sacrificed a long time in advance.“

—  L. Neil Smith American writer 1946
"Empire of Lies" Presented to the Libertarian Party of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 15 June 2003 http://www.ncc-1776.org/tle2003/libe228-20030622-01.html.

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Mark Twain photo
Charles Spurgeon photo

„It is a great deal easier to set a story afloat than to stop it. If you want truth to go round the world you must hire an express train to pull it; but if you want a lie to go round the world, it will fly: it is as light as a feather, and a breath will carry it. It is well said in the old proverb, "A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on." Nevertheless, it does not injure us; for if light as feather it travels as fast, its effect is just about as tremendous as the effect of down, when it is blown against the walls of a castle; it produces no damage whatever, on account of its lightness and littleness. Fear not, Christian. Let slander fly, let envy send forth its forked tongue, let it hiss at you, your bow shall abide in strength. Oh! shielded warrior, remain quiet, fear no ill; but, like the eagle in its lofty eyrie, look thou down upon the fowlers in the plain, turn thy bold eye upon them and say, "Shoot ye may, but your shots will not reach half-way to the pinnacle where I stand. Waste your powder upon me if ye will; I am beyond your reach."“

—  Charles Spurgeon British preacher, author, pastor and evangelist 1834 - 1892
Sermons delivered in Exeter Hall, Strand, during the enlargement of New Park Street Chapel, Southmark (1855), Then clap your wings, mount to heaven, and there laugh them to scorn, for ye have made your refuge God, and shall find a most secure abode. "No. 17: Joseph Attacked by the Archers (Genesis 49:23–24, delivered on Sunday 1855-04-01)" pp.130

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Richard Dawkins photo
Fay Weldon photo
Peter Mere Latham photo
Arthur Ponsonby photo

„In war-time, failure to lie is negligence, the doubting of a lie a misdemeanour, the declaration of the truth a crime.“

—  Arthur Ponsonby British Liberal and later Labour politician and pacifist 1871 - 1946
Falsehood in Wartime (1928), Introduction, Context: Between nations, where the consequences are vital, where the destiny of countries and provinces hangs in the balance, the lives and fortunes of millions are affected and civilization itself is menaced, the most upright men honestly believe that there is no depth of duplicity to which they may not legitimately stoop. They have got to do it. The thing cannot go on without the help of lies. This is no plea that lies should not be used in war-time, but a demonstration of how lies must be used in war-time. If the truth were told from the outset, there would be no reason and no will for war. Anyone declaring the truth: "Whether you are right or wrong, whether you win or lose, in no circumstances can war help you or your country," would find himself in gaol very quickly. In war-time, failure to lie is negligence, the doubting of a lie a misdemeanour, the declaration of the truth a crime.

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Bob Dylan photo

„All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie“

—  Bob Dylan American singer-songwriter, musician, author, and artist 1941
Song lyrics, Things Have Changed (recorded 1999)

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