You’ve probably heard some variation of the Liar Paradox before, even if you didn’t learn about it in Philosophy class.    It’s a simple and instructive example of a paradox that doesn’t take expensive ivy league schooling (or even a reasonably-priced, state college education like mine) to understand.  The standard version is: “This statement is false.”

If the statement is false, then the statement is true, which makes the statement false, which makes the statement true, etc.   Boom! Paradox.

The Liar Paradox involves a statement that defies logic or reason made by a person who is assumed to be lying.   And it’s exactly what I think of every time I hear from Josh Mandel’s Senate Campaign.

Back in April Josh Mandel laughably told an audience at an event with John McCain that he, just like the Senator from Arizona, “always tells the truth.”  But at the time this statement was made, Politifact had already rated seven of Mandel’s statements lies including four “Pants on Fire”, two “False”  and one “Mostly False”.

We already knew Josh Mandel has not spoken the truth many, many times before.  And yet, here he was, publicly proclaiming that he never tells a lie.

While I realize there’s a slight difference in the logic, it’s close enough that every time I hear Mandel speak, I’m taken back to my freshman year of college, and University Hall, and reminded of the important lessons one can learn by studying liars and lying.

In total, Mandel now has eleven statements judged by Politifact to be untrue, including today’s 6th Pants of Fire rating for a completely false statement about Sherrod Brown sending “billions of tax dollars to foreign countries”.  Politifact called the statement “a ridiculous stretch.”  Not exactly telling “the truth”, as Mandel claims he always does.

How could Mandel always tell the truth AND have told so many lies?   The fact is: he can’t.  And his statement about always telling the truth, is seems, was just another lie.

Unlike the theoretical paradox from Philosophy class, this real-world dilemma could easily be resolved if Josh would just stop lying, or at least admit he sometimes does not tell the truth.

But Mandel seems to have no desire to put an end to the contradiction of his statements.  Quote the opposite, actually.

After Mandel received an earlier Pants On Fire rating, he was called out by the Plain Dealer for continuing to repeat the lie.  Instead of taking responsibility and apoligizing, Mandel chose to berate the Plain Dealer’s staff and “vowed to repeat the assertion ‘again and again’.”  Mandel claimed he “sees no downside” to repeating false claims.  And, apparently, no upside to admitting they were ever false to begin with, despite being debunked

In the classroom, a good lie can make for hours of interesting discussion.  In the world of politics, it can make or break a campaign.  For Mandel, the latest polling seems to indicate it’s going to be the latter.


  • DublinIrishBob

    This is the future of politics in our country. Romney is quite a fabricator himself, not as good as Mandel, but a liar nonetheless. But what they have accomplished is that their statements are taken as true until the media or political opponents challenge them. We know the media does not want to challenge candidate’s truthfulness, so it is up to the Sherrod Browns’ to assume the role of truth squad. I am sure that Brown would rather campaign in a pro-active manner than call out Mandel all the time. What has happened in this particular race is Mandel has gone too far overboard and is no longer taken seriously. Instead of Brown looking like a whiner complaining about Mandel in the eye of the public, Mandel has squandered everything. But Mandel is giving a good return to the Koch’s on their investment; he is showing how far a candidate can go and what they can get away with when they consciously decide to tell lies on the campaign. You watch, in the future more and more candidates will tell lies as a standard campaign strategy.

  • I want all stories about Josh to refer to him as The Liar Mandel.

    As in, “At last night’s meeting, The Liar Mandel claimed to be the hardest working Treasurer in America. 48 other Treasurers disagreed.”

    “In a completely unsurprising move, The Liar Mandel claimed that Sherrod Brown wasn’t the best Senator in America.”

    “When challenged by reporters, The Liar Mandel made another in a long series of unsubstantiated claims.”

    “It is believed that The Liar Mandel is now constantly wearing asbestos pants to avoid further problems from Politifact.”

  • buckeye15

    Oh Joseph, you are taking me back to Philosophy 150 in the mid 70’s in the computer room in University Hall too…..and what better example than “The Empty Suit”!

  • guestimus

    I’m still hoping that somebody makes a big deal about his website with all the names, salaries and cities they work in of all of Ohio’s undercover police officers. Sure all that stuff is public record, but there’s a big difference between going down to employee records and filling out a request, as opposed to just clicking on a web site.

  • Lori M

    Serious question, why don’t we see the words “liar” or “lie” in television ads? I wait for Sherrod Brown to end and ad with “I’m Sherrod Brown and Josh Mandel approved this lie”.

  • Willy

    Mandel, you lying sack-of-poop, don’t you know it’s not okay to tell lies like you do; unless of course your a Democrat or POTUS then it is perfectly acceptable. Switch parties A-hole so no one will question what comes out of your lying mouth.

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