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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by BBNaftee on

Yes...there seems to be a pattern here.

Very few if any other minority focused internet sites would allow senseless attacks of this type on their own community.

It was a good blog you had written back in September. Thank you for doing your bit for our community.

Oon Yaroo

Lying is different than not truthing!

by Oon Yaroo on

".....People lie everyday. They learn how to lie early in life, and continue
lying their entire lives. A person may lie to protect himself and in an
attempt to control life...."



Also, the intensity and frequency of lying can be localized to certain geographical areas.

For example, when you enter a consumer electronic shop in New York city, the price of the merchandise gets reduced  by an amount of 300% by the shop keeper from the time you enter the shop until you exit it!

The number of women lying about the actual size of their breasts and the amount of implants they have received is drastically increased as you migrate toward SoCal!

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

Re: Cowards

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


I want to see how many American politicians are willing to criticize Israel. Or for that matter how many journalists. The last one doing it was Helen Thomas. She did not last very long. Got booted faster than speed of light!

In all nations there are "cowards" meaning you want to keep your job. But if an Iranian lies to keep his or her job that is a "genetic trait". If an American does it that is integrity and "wisdom". 

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

Re: This is REALLY SAD....

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


Dear BBNafte,

There are a group of people on IC who relentlessly attack Iranians. I have been arguing with them for months if not years. They claim things like "Iranians are inferior". Or "Iranians are all lying terrorists". 

I am not going to mention names. If you want just browse through the blogs and you will find them. Their "logic" is if we want to "improve" we must first accept how horrible we are. If you disagree you get attacked and labeled all kinds of things.

I wrote a blog refuting some of it. In response one of them wrote a blog personally attacking me. I did not bother to respond as it was a waste of time.


Here is an example of a blog attacking Iranians. The blogger was finally banned.



Jahanshah Javid

Prison full of... cowards

by Jahanshah Javid on

I don't know Parham... I'm just guessing that it must have something to do with survival and the biggest threat has been frequent wars, invasions, and of course tyrannical rulers. There's no special gene in Iranians that triggers lying or anything of the sort, as far as I know. It has to have some social/cultural reason.

I can't agree with you on cowardice as being particularly common among Iranians. Nobody wants to die, nobody wants to go to prison, nobody wants to lose his/her job, etc... Very few step forward to challenge authority or the existing order, in any society that is ruled under the barrel of the gun. I don't know many countries that have at least 600 political prisoners, according to official figures. And more are added every day.

I'm willing to bet that individual acts of bravery and civil disobedience take place more often in Iran than most other countries. No way to prove it, really, but I believe resistance is not uncommon. As quiet and obedient as our society as a whole may seem, anger and frustration towards daily oppression run deep. The brave will breakthrough in larger numbers as time goes by and opportunities to fight emerge in a weakening regime.


This is REALLY SAD....

by BBNaftee on

At a time when we have the misfortune of Ahmadinejad systematically destroying the credibility and standing of our nation by standing behind the UN podium and claiming to be its leader and representative,At a time when every branch of Western and Eastern Media is hard at work propagating negative news about Iran being this and that and supporting terrorism and worse,And...while every other nation and community is hard at work trying to improve their image and world standing, We have idiots like this Baniameri guy libeling our entire community and circulating stories about our dishonest character and worse...,  Now this guy is not content with just doing it on this site but goes far further than that...he writes an entire book about it!Mr. Baniameri..., he great Majority of Iranians in this Country are highly principled, highly educated, hard working people. Just to survive over here, Iranians have to work twice as hard and shine ten times more than people from many other minorities. Out of disgust and curiosity, I tried to see who you are and what your great feats of achievements are. I found nothing! No record of any achievement of any kind. NOTHING professional, NOTHING academic, NOTHING!It really does look like you are a no body (as self described in your book)...some Ashghal Kaleh living in Arizona desperately trying to get a cost to the rest of our community.A loser... imagining that everyone else in the Iranian community must be the same or worst than himself.Dearest JJ - As the person who owns and runs this site.... a SITE WHICH HAS OUR NATION'S NAME ON IT... the very name which many of us hold sacred,  you have a responsibility to uphold our national standing and reputation. For god sake think about what you are doing by publishing articles like this! We got enough problems and negativity as it is...We don't need any more.


Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

About lying

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


I have lived in USA for over 30 years and they lie as much. Try watching one of the Sunday morning political shows. Or any of the many other infomercials. There is more BS than I may handle.

My point as usual being that BS is a universal thing. Maybe Sweden or some cultures are immune. But not around here because it is all over the place. 

Dear JJ:  you mentioned this: 

Our children born and raised abroad, are not quite the same. They
don't have that constant fear of losing their life or livelihood.

After being laid off 3 times I disagree. Watching my 401-K drop to less than half twice {then recover} I disagree. America is built on fear of losing all we have. The whole society is build on fear. I know businessmen who lost everything in the real estate crash. I know teachers with no work and have no way to feed their families. I know so many people who fear for their jobs. It is not funny rather scary. They are not afraid of their lives but their jobs and all they got.



Not only do they/we lie...

by Parham on

... and believe the lies, but they/we see all others as liars, even if they're not -- basically, the "kafar hame ra ze kishe khish pendarad" at work full time here.

Two things I don't agree with here though: I don't see why Siamack has to attack those who seek democracy. What does that have to do with anything? Nobody has ever said democracy will make the lying/cheating go away. It might make it better, but I doubt the "zerangi" character Jahanshah talks about will go away soon.

The other thing I disagree with, which Jahanshah brought up, is the explanation of this cultural characteristic by saying we've been under constant threat of foreign invasions and under tyrannical rule, and that's why we are like this.

Many other nations (heck, perhaps all of them) have had these situations. Only there are those who stood up, collectively fought and sacrificed, and those who just found excuse after excuse. And every time someone said something they just said "you're standing kenare gowd, just shut up." I think somewhere we should add that a lot of what is mentioned here comes from cowardice, which is a more general characteristic of us Iranians. And I've seen a lot of excuses for that as well, ranging from "I'm only being a diplomat" to plain "you're stupid, you don't understand, you only act like a reactionary student."

Well heck, you want to remain in your pooh, retain your ways.

Agha dast roo delam nazar ke kheyli pore...

Jahanshah Javid

the truth

by Jahanshah Javid on

A few have written about this phenomenon over the years but there's more to be said. I think you're right about the survival instinct. Speaking the truth and being honest make no sense, and are actually dangerous and foolish, when living under tyrannical rulers and the constant threat of foreign invasions. Which brings us to another trait which we are particularly good at and that is "zerangi" -- super-charged cleverness. I remember asking an Iranian friend why he had chosen to live in Sweden. "They are really simple-minded, very easy to fool," he said :)

Our children born and raised abroad, are not quite the same. They don't have that constant fear of losing their life or livelihood.