The Iranian art of lying

Why are we so good it?


The Iranian art of lying
by Siamack Baniameri

A friend was enthusiastically recounting his run-in with a police officer in a Los Angles freeway. It turns out that my friend was doing 90 in a 55-mile-an-hour zone in his brand new BMW with the wife by his side and mother-in-law in the backseat. It’s not often that you get a chance to do 90 on LA's freeways. So, my friend figured, what the heck, what’s the worst that can happen?

Just when he is ready to push his Beemer to the limit, he spots flashing lights in his rear-view mirror and immediately revises a plan to get out of the ticket. While slowing down and pulling over to the side, he tells the mother- in-law to fake a heart attack. Following his lead, the wife slides to the backseat and the mother-in-law starts playing the part. My friend quickly messes up his hair, lights up a cigarette and clears his throat.

The stage is set for Persian bullshitting theatricals.

The police officer slowly approaches the car and looks inside. The mother-in-law presses on her chest and takes a deep breath. The wife rubs her mother’s legs and says in broken English, “please don’t die. We are almost there at the hospital.”

Intimidated by the presence of the police officer, the mother-in-law is close to having a real heart attack in the backseat.

“Excuse me officer," my friend said, "my mother-in-law in the back has a bad heart and she is having a stroke. I was driving very-very fast to get her to the emergency room. That’s why I’m smoking a cigarette. I’m very-very stressed.“

The police officer sticks his head inside the car and glances at the ladies in the back. The mother-in-law makes a chocking sound and closes her eyes. The police officer immediately steps back and waves at my friend to proceed. Knowing that he has gotten away with getting another ticket, my friend steps on the gas and takes off like a bat out of hell with a smile that goes from ear to ear. Score!!!

Now let’s go from LA to NY. President Ahmadinejad made his annual pilgrimage to the United Nations for a few days of fun, festivities and shopping. He spoke to rows of empty chairs while displaying his divine luminosity. As he roamed from one meeting to another and from one interview to the next, he showcased his God-given talent of bullshitting, which happens to be the most important asset in most Iranians’ arsenal. And of course, yet again, we witness his interviews with American networks and softball questions followed by Ahmadi’s skillful answers -- more BS, and like a bad nightmare, it just goes on and on.

I personally believe Ahmadinejad has mastered the art of Persian bullshiting theatricals. He represents the very persona of many of us inside and outside of the country. He is real. Like many of us, he lies without hesitation and in most situations, he actually believes his own lies. Ahmadi gets us. He understands that most of us take our cues from a defeated culture, which has adopted lying as a mean of survival. he looks you in the eyes and says it like it is NOT! Like my friend in LA, he understands that Westerners in most cases give you the benefit of the doubt, and that by itself creates great opportunities for bullshit followed by a grin and a sense of accomplishment.

Another good example is the public hanging of a 17-year-old that took place a few days ago in Karaj, west of Tehran. The prosecutor was asked about the legalities of executing a minor. He responded that the kid was really 18, if you use a different calendar and consider the way stars and moons line up. I was waiting for him to mention that based on the Mayan calendar the kid was already dead, so what’s the big deal (bullshit + grin + sense of accomplishment).

Throughout our history, we Iranians have always been great liars. That includes making up stories about the Persian Empire, Islam, dynasties, left, right and everything in between. Lying is a big part of our dogma that has practically ruined our lives and our country. We have built our culture, religion and history based on wacky lies and self-fulfilling prophecies. For many of us the line between truth and bullshit has become so blurry that we simply can’t tell the difference anymore. We talk about democracy and human rights as if our problems can just magically disappear. We fail to recognize that our plight, our shortcomings have nothing to do with the lack of freedom and democracy. The problem is our sick culture of lying and deception.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Not all Iranians are reality-challenged. I personally know many who are admirably honest. But most have crawled under a rock and have distanced themselves from their own kind.


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Siavash jan

by Parham on

Give it a break. We're here to discuss lying Iranian style. This conversation has deviated too far from the main subject.

And no, I don't remember what you cite, but it's very possible Fariba Amini didn't remember that passage from Kinzer's book -- in any case, it's not something one would lie about. So what if Mossadeq applied or was thinking of applying for a Swiss citizenship? That doesn't take away anything from what he did for his country.

But really Siavash, we've had all these conversations before. I know you're not going to come this way, and I also know we're not gonna come that way. So let's give it a rest, shall we?


Reminder for Parham

by Siavash300 on

"Mosaddeq never wanted to become a Swiss citizen. Another lie, a very bad one!  You see, you cannot distort history ; it's right there black on
white. " Fariba Amini

Pages 54 and 55 of the book "All Shah's Men" under the chapter A wave of oil,  by Steven Kinzer, who happens to be Ms. Fariba Amini's dear friend, reads:

The onset of illness forced Mossadegh to give up his studies in France after a year and returned to Iran. There he was able to rest, partly because the ruler he detested so viscerrally Mohammad Ali Shah, had been forced from the throne. After his recovery he returned to Europe, this time to Swiss town of Neuchatel, accompanied by his wife, their three children, and his beloved mother. He entered the university there, earned his doctorate of law in 1914- the first Iranian to win such a degree from Euopean university- and decided to apply for Swiss citizenship. First though, he would travel home to complete research for a book about Islamic law.

Again the same source page 56:

"....He (mosaddegh)  resolved to file his application for citizenship in Switzerland and spend the rest of his days practicing law there. Unfortunately Swiss immigration laws had been tightened since he had last considered this option, and his application was delayed..." 

Dear Parham,

 the above quotations are from Kinzer's book who is dear friend of Ms. Amini. It was meant to give answer to Ms. Amini who claimed Mosaddeg never wanted to become Swiss citizen. I caught her red handed lying. Do you remember this? where is integrity and honesty?

Always remember, Mosaddeq's trail generated business for Amini's family and she benefited from that trial. She can't be impartial, unbias and objective. Conflict of interests.

     I am sure someone who is accepting Abrahamian's quote from Acheson without demanding any written proof or requesting any  historical documentation is prone to accept none sense.

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan


by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on

All of Iran will lose at the outcome of this nightmarish scenario because the mullahs and the MEK together will lay the whole of Iran to waste from one end to the other and scorch the earth of what's left fighting each other

But isn't that what the Neocon want for happen. Turn Iran to ashes then get themselves contracts to rebuild it! These don't surprise me it is the Iranians supporting them that is the bother me. 




by Tabarzin on

Guys, I am not taking sides in this debate, but do google from time to time to clarify these points in the future. People from the outside looking in here will think of all of us as bumbling idiots.

That said, VPK, believe you me, I am actually losing sleep at night thinking about the utter insanity the American political establishment is embarking upon in delisting the Mojahedin and potentially arming them to use them as their proxy army against the mullahs. All of Iran will lose at the outcome of this nightmarish scenario because the mullahs and the MEK together will lay the whole of Iran to waste from one end to the other and scorch the earth of what's left fighting each other. The mullahs are crazy, the MEK are crazier, and the lunatics in Washington actually taking these cultists seriously are the craziest of all! Didn't the parents of these people ever teach them never to play with matches in front of a spilt tank of kerosene?


Thanks for that Tabarzin!

by Parham on


Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

Tabarzin Jan

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


I know about the smokescreen; I know about the British stuff. These are painful to keep hearing. It is like sticking a nail in my foot again and again. What bothers me more is now they are up to the same old tricks. 

This time with MEK. Instead of worrying about the imminent threat we talk about 60 years ago. We should  have said this in 1952. That may have prevented the coup. Now we have another danger just as serious. They are planning on breaking us. Have you seen Bernard Lewis map of breaking up Iran. This is our new problem. To be implemented by separatists leaving a small MEK run Iran. If we don't take care of this now we will be sorry. Please use your formidable knowledge here.


Abrahamian on what Acheson said

by Tabarzin on

It doesn't look to me it was a death-bed confession. The man appears to have gone on record saying it. 


Throughout the crisis, the "communist danger" was more of a rhetorical
device than a real issue—i.e. it was part of the cold-war discourse
...The Tudeh was no match for the armed tribes and the 129,000-man
military. What is more, the British and Americans had enough inside
information to be confident that the party had no plans to initiate
armed insurrection. At the beginning of the crisis, when the Truman
administration was under the impression a compromise was possible,
Acheson had stressed the communist danger, and warned if Mosaddegh was
not helped, the Tudeh would take over. The (British) Foreign Office had
retorted that the Tudeh was no real threat. But, in August 1953, when
the Foreign Office echoed the Eisenhower administration's claim that the
Tudeh was about to take over, Acheson now retorted that there was no
such communist danger. Acheson was honest enough to admit that the issue
of the Tudeh was a smokescreen.


Frankly Siavash

by Parham on

I value and respect Fariba Amini and Arj's (and Kinzer's and Abrahamian's) integrity in recounting history a lot more than yours...
And I cannot recall an instance where you would have caught F. Amini "red-handed" in anything. AND I doubt very much that Arj ever searched for Khomeyni's picture on the moon. There.

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan


by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


A while ago Parham asked me why I was anti-Mossadegh. I am not and told him that. But the legacy of him is with us to this day distracting us. Rather than focus on the real problems we still debate him. 

Do we debate why Darius III lost to Alexander. Do we argue about why Amir Kabir was forced into suicide. Things have happened and we got to move on. Yes we learn from history but this is way beyond it. 

Will people keep going at this? I think they will until that generation is all gone. Mossadegh is gone; Marxism is gone; Bakhtiyar is gone. Mollahs are here; Greens are here; Reza Pahlavi is here. How about debating people who might matter.


Parham's generalization

by Siavash300 on

"the whole world knows the Soviet thing was a smoke.screen " Parham

First of all let me thank you for mentioning the correct name of the Ervand Abrahamian.

 What you refer as a "whole world" seems to me you're are perceiving Steven Kinzer and his buddy Fariba Amini as a whole world ( Do you remember I caught her red handed lying?). 

   Yes, Abrahamian claims Acheson in his final days said something that I couldn't find anywhere in any record. The credibility of that claim is our question. The same as credibiltiy and validity of Yazdegard III letter to Umar. That reminds me of the claim that Bakhtiar and Reza Pahlavi had a meeting with Saddam Hossaine provoking him to invade Iran and they planed the invasion all together. Talk is cheap and anyone can claim anything they like ,but we have to use our common sense and see it through. You are as responsible as I am to identify someone who is trying or trying to fabricate Iran's history. The lady's father (Fariba Amini) was a lawyer of Mosaddeq and shamshiri.  Mosaddeq trial generated business for that family. So what do you expect?  she is claiming balah balah balah. Mosaddeq's trial money probably paid her college tuition or saved their family house from foreclosure. Who knows? The only thing we do know is the fact that the lady can't be objective because of conflict of interest.

User name Arj is another person who keep saying mosaddeq.  (probably these are the ones who appears to you as a whole world). The poor guy didn't even know the oil concession was NOT sign between Iranian government and Brits government. He didn't even know mosaddeq was related to the person who signed that treaty. What less do you expect from such a person.?

of course, if you tell Arj Acheson said "soviet threat was smoke screen, he will fall for it without asking for any references or questioning the credibilty of that claim. He was thinking Iran government was under coersion to sign that oil contract. He probably got all of his information for the oil concession from the movie "Dai jan Napolean". What else do you expect from such a person.

These are the same kind of people who heard khominie's picture was on the surface on the moon and they went on roof of their homes looking for Khomaini's picture.

I think I have already provided enough evidence for the event in 1953 and the basic reason for U.S, or rahter "free world", intervention in that matter. Now, if you have any hesitation please let me know, so provide more evidences.

BTW, I agree our race has been mixed over the centuries. Only rural and remote areas who were not on the way of arab, turks and Greek invasions remaind somewhat pure.  



Iranians and Dishonesty? Really?!

by Zorumbaa on

I don’t think you really want to get married based on what “others”
tell you about your future bride. Trusting someone that you “barely” know
simply is not a very smart idea. You get lucky once but what about next time?
Can you afford the risk?


COP jaan: Do you realize….

by Bavafa on

How many oxymoronic statement is in your sentence?

If true, we have far too many other things to worry about, such as why would a nation allow such criminal elements to rule over them with an iron fist.”

If it wasn’t criminal element, then it wouldn't be IRI
If not IRI (read criminal), then no need to rule with an iron fist

And I totally agree with your last statement that main burden of responsibility lies on our shoulder as we have allowed these monsters to terrorize us.

'Hambastegi' is the main key to victory 



Nevermind lying...

by Cost-of-Progress on

"His job in 1979 was to fire the kill-shot into the brains of innocent victims of Khalkhali, the crazy judge."

I've heard and read the above statement a few times before. If true, we have far too many other things to worry about, such as why would a nation allow such criminal elements to rule over them with an iron fist.

It is us who allow these monsters to terrorize us with our ignorance.
Lying, in this case, would become irrelevant.





Case of Self-Hatred?!

by HHH on

Mr. Siamack, I've read many of your blogs in the last year or two and I've noticed that there's one thing common in almost every one of them, and that's self-hatred or being ashamed from being an Iranian.

Contrary to what you believe we, Iranians, master everything we touch not just lying. The reason we're not a superpower now is because we became oil-dependant exactly when other countries became industrialized or around 1907. So for the next 70 years we collected no tax from citizens & the government purchased our needs from overseas using oil money.

As far as lying, I've lived in Iran, in America, in UK and met thousands of liars from every color, every nationality and every race. To be honest, I can trust an Iranian lot more than I can trust an American unless he's a college professor or someone with advanced education. Among normal, everyday people Iranians still beat the westerners in honesty the reason being they still believe in God and Heaven and all the good stuff!

Ahmadinejad is a special case. He's born in a village to an illiterate blacksmith & just recently moved to Tehran. His job in 1979 was to fire the kill-shot into the brains of innocent victims of Khalkhali, the crazy judge. We can't take him as an example of a good, decent Iranian. In fact he's 100% the way I expect him to be, not as Iran's president, but as a vicious, criminal "Dehati" (No disrespect to wonderful dehatis of Iran). I expect him to have a low character, lie, to be superstitious, praise mullahs and to tolerate attacks on the people in the streets.


Siavash jan

by Parham on

No, Ervand Abrahamian (that's the name, not Arvand Ebrahimi) didn't record his session with Acheson to my knowledge. But then it seems the whole world knows the Soviet thing was a smoke.screen but you (and a few more in the same line as yourself). In this case my advice would be to get with the world.

As for Zia-Ebrahimi's quote of Gnoli, I'm not sure I know what it is you don't understand -- but if I were you, I'd also get with it on this one: We're not Aryans. The race (if there was such a thing as an Aryan race) has been mixed a thousand times over (and perhaps more) since 5000 years ago.

That's the last I will say on this subject as this thread is totally about something else -- the Iranian art of lying. What you refer to is the Iranian art of lying to oneself, which is a whole different chapter.



Thanks Parham. Any book you know of Acheson?

by Siavash300 on

Any video tape? any book that Acheson officially said "Soviet threat was smoke screen". Acheson died in 1969. I dig into it to find any official document that he might have said so. I couldn't find any. You may have found something. Please let me know.

Apprarently he said it in his final day in his hospital death bed to Arvand Ebrahimi very secrely. No body was around to testify it. Seems we have to trust Ebrahimi that the guy said such a thing. Is that pupose of Mr. Siamak B. writing this article?

Zia Ebrahimi also misquoting Gnoli.

"Gherardo Gnoli -- has shown that ariya was not quite a racial category. According to Gnoli, in Achaemenid times, ariya was a cultural and religious term to evoke the kings' origin, like a title of particular nobility." Zia Ebrahimi  This is what Gnoli said: "this evidence shows that the name arya “Iranian” was a collective definition, denoting peoples (Geiger, pp. 167 f.; Schmitt, 1978, p. 31) who were aware of belonging to the one ethnic stock, speaking a common language, and having a religious tradition that centered on the cult of Ahura Mazdā" . Can we say he way misquoting or he was lying?


What the author means of

by statira on

making up stories about the  Persian Empire? What a paranoid, self depreciating person the autor is. So I guess Mr. Sia believes all the Hollywood bullshitting about Iranians are true and it's all right to bash Iran's history.


For what it's worth...

by Parham on

... I don't perceive either as liars.

They are people who would poop your party if you hold certain notions though, yes.


thanks parham

by Siavash300 on

that question was in my mind for a long time and I perceived both as liars.


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Re the 1358 demos

by Arj on

Dear Anahid, I did not say that ordinary men opposed the demonstrations, but rather spoke of their indifference, apathy and in some instances scorning of the demands of the demonstrating women! As you correctly mentioned, the protests were not only limited to hejab, but to some extent were about women's rights as a whole. Although I have no intention of stirring a futile argument in that regard, yet I reiterate that, as I personally witnessed, there were many ordinary men making fun of the protesters' dmands. In order to see that, all one had to do was to step inside a grocery or a bekery and observe the ordinary, less educated men's reactions. Now, were they all supporters of IRI? I can't say with certainty, but I'm gonna go with no! 


No, Siavash

by Parham on

Ervand Abrahamian and Reza Zia-Ebrahimi are not related.

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

Re: The Iranian art of lying Why

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


Here is an example of it! I wanted to buy a rug from Iran. Before the sanctions went into effect. I gave 2000 $ to an Iranian guy I barely knew to get me a silk rug on his trip. It was perfectly legal but I had no proof.

A month later he is back from the trip with my rug. Just as promised and better than I had expected. He actually did the haggling on my behalf. I took the rug to a local dealer and he said it is genuine and I got a great deal. So unless the rug is imaginary I was not lied to. Nor was I cheated in any way or form. Yes I took a chance and put my trust in a person I barely knew. But others had told me he is a good guy. He could have just put the money in his pocket and said what 2000. Guy was honest.


The Iranian art of lying Why

by Zorumbaa on

The Iranian art of lying
Why are we so good it? OR GOOD AT IT MAY BE?
Are some Iranian reality-challenged as Siamack Baniameri the blogger at puts it? Of course they are, MOST Iranian, are culturally prone to dishonesty, put it simply they are lyres! I am saying this by risking of getting accused of being Anti-Iranian, recklessly categorizing and labeling the entire population, and of course criticized by those who HONESTY believe they DON’T lie, but everybody else, i.e. all other Iranians DO!
Why Iranians are obsessed with wining the next move rather than the entire game, why real and honest collaboration and forging consensus is almost an impossible task among Iranians? Indeed some may say there are different reasons for this behavior but it all comes back to culture.
The Iranian’s habitual dishonesty stems from the complex culture of communication and language that makes it very difficult to know what actually an Iranian means when speaking. Words don’t exactly mean what they are meant to mean! The artful use of allusiveness and gesticulation is good evidence of that. For those who have a faulty understanding of how language shapes the Iranian social relations and behavior issue remains puzzling and unusual.
The concept of TAAROF is a good example, it is an essential part of Iranian social relationship. It is a unique set of coded words and sentences that is designed to represent the warmth, politeness, and friendly nature of Iranians, or at the same time complete dishonesty, deceitfulness of the person , of course depending how you interpret and read it. Most likely Taarof is not authentic and is spurious, Taarof is the social reaction to fear from the truth, why should you inform every jackass that you meet that he or she is really a jerk and as the result instead of having a good time have a bad one?
A very close kin of Taarof which most Iranians have perfected it is excessive flattery and sycophancy. Thousand years of social stratification and class strata has conditioned Iranians, especially of lower strata, to fawn, be toady and truckle. What is the Sine Qua Non for this deeply rooted and ingrained cultural behavior? LYING, DISHONESTY, FAKING, PRETENDING, FURBELOW of STYLE and much HOGWASH and PALAVER. Yes, most Iranians lie when they Taarof and those that are the master of Tamalogh and Chaakhaan -Gooey are not much different.
Why lack of candor and honesty is not a problem here? The reason seems to be that this culture of communication, with the emphasis on the process and ritual rather than content, rewards and prizes insincerity, dishonesty, and deception. It gets the job done, it opens the door, it will bring you more business and contracts, and particularly for Iranian in diaspora it will invite you to the next mehmoony!!


Taqiyah is the reason for Iranians to lie

by Siavash300 on

Taqiyah is only practice by Shia and Sunni don't believe in it. This principal of shia allows the believers to lie without any punishment or consequenses. Since 93% of Iranian population are shia, Taqiyah became part of their culture.

    For example, not long ago I was doing some research about event in 1953. I came across the book from Arvand Ebrahimi. The book regarding Coup and operation Ajax. He quates from Dean Acheson. U.S secratary of state department during Eizenhower administration.  According to Ebrahimi; Dean Acheson in his final days in his death bed said "Communist threat was smoke screen". Acheson is no longer alive to defend himself about his statement of operation Ajax. There is no book, no video tape from him to say that. We have to accept whatever Ebrahimi is claiming!!! . What a credible source.!!!. There is another guy in London by the name of Zia Ebrahimi who is claimining "Iranians are NOT Aryan". I am wondering if these 2 Ebrahimi are related. 

 Similar situation is the letter from Yazdegard III to Umar. The letter supposedly being kept in U.K musuem.

Some one by the name of the Reza wrote a letter to museum of London inquiring about the letter. The respond came back that Musuem of London is only deals with city of London affairs and he should contact the British museum or liberary of British museum. Reza wrote the letters to both sources. He received a respond that the administration of British museum is aware of such a letter runing around among Persian community these days but such a letter doesn't exist. !!!!!!!

 Therefore, I personally hesitate any source of Iranian testimony or claims, unless it has to be proved by international community. The athencity of any claim by any Iranian should be approved by international community. I strongly believe that this behavior originated from the principal of "Taqiyah" which is forming upbringing of majority of Iranians.   



That too

by Parham on

And I prefer to give you the balloons personally. I hear you can't trust Jahanshah with balloons, but don't tell him.

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

Parham Khan

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


How about a twising of words problem :-) Also you owe me some balloons. Please send them to JJ and he will forward them to me.

Thanks in advance; VPK



by Parham on

I'm not getting upset at you saying that! This article is about Iranians having a lying problem, I'm saying there is also a cowardice problem, you want to add to that that there is an inferiority complex problem as well, be my guest! No problem! : )


Parham jaan

by Truthseeker9 on

Put the gun down, don't reach for that rope. Take a few deep breaths...

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan


by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


  • You say Iranians have a cowardice problem. Is that an insult to Iranians? I say yes it is. So why do you get upset if I say it shows an inferiority complex. If you want to call a whole nation cowards. Don't I get to respond to you?
  • Regarding "insulting our intelligence". On another blog some people {not you} say Iraq/Iran border is a popular vacation spot. Now I consider that insulting my intelligence.
  • I don't have a beef with Dr. Mossagegh. I am just sick of hearing about him. I would feel the same way if we had a blog a day about how great Karim Khan was. It takes away attention from today. The other issue I have is that his supporters helped bring the IRI. This is a fact and no way around it. Yes I know they wanted the best for Iran but here we are.

Also please do not worry. You did not pop my balloon. Plus I have a whole bunch more.