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Monday, February 28th, 2022, 3:17 am

Governments Typically Lie (Because That’s Just What Governments Tend to Do)

Angry Russian Guy: I hate that other country so much!

There’s this stigma or stereotype associated with people who allege that the government, through politicians and state media for the most part, misleads its people. Sure, they typically lie to populations outside the country too. The stigmas or stereotypes are intended to discourage such view being held or publicly expressed. Of course the government does not always lie (absolutism), but oftentimes there’s more incentive to tell supposedly ‘white’ lies.

Over the past few months I’ve covered many examples where both our government and the BBC lied to us, mostly for business reasons.

Governments aren’t in the business of science, mere facts, truth, evidence…

Governments in modern history — even in supposedly civilised nations — act more like front groups of wealthy businesspeople. The politicians are beholden to them.

This does mean we should expect lies; this is especially true at times of war. I’ve decided to archive this old and rusty page, seeing it’s likely to be offline altogether some time in the future and it’s likely Fair Use given the diversity of voices and of course key quotes going centuries back. The underlying HTML looks like something from the 1990s.

Who coined the phrase, “The first casualty of War is Truth”?

Mike Owen, Hebden Bridge UK
  • In 1918 US Senator Hiram Warren Johnson is purported to have said: The first casualty when war comes is truth. However, this was not recorded.

    In 1928 Arthur Ponsonby’s wrote: The ‘When war is declared, truth is the first casualty’. (Falsehood in Wartime)

    Samuel Johnson seems to have had the first word: ‘Among the calamities of war may be jointly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages.’ (from The Idler, 1758)

    Peter Brooke, Mewmachar Scotland

  • The original quote is “The first casualty when war comes is truth”. Hiram W Johnson, staunchly isolationist senator for California, to the US Senate in 1917 (the year of his election to the Senate, where he remained until his death in 1945).
    Philip Draycott, Leicester UK

  • …”The first casualty when war comes is truth,” was coined by Hiram Johnson a Republican politician from California who served in the United States Senate for nearly 30 years, beginning in the midst of World War I and concluding with his death in 1945–as it happens, on the same day the U.S. dropped its first atomic bomb on Hiroshima…
    Gareth, Leeds UK

  • Rudyard Kipling.
    Paul Hardy, Croydon England

  • It has been attributed to both Athur Ponsonby in “Falsehood in Wartime” (1928) and US Senator Hiram Johnson in a 1918 speech. However, the true origin may be in the edition of “The Idler” magazine from 11/11/1758 which says “…among the calamities of war may be jointly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages.”
    Andy Ward, LONDON UK

  • Hiram Johnson (USA). The full qoute is “The first casualty when war comes is truth”.

    Coincidentally Johnson died on August 6th 1945 (of old age!)

    Kevin Wooldridge, Lowestoft UK

  • Boake Carter, an American Radio Reporter. Not sure when though. I seem to remember hearing the original broadcast in a TV origram some time ago.
    Ken Blair, Stirling Scotland

  • Hiram Johnson (1866-1945) – a Progressive Republican senator in California. His actual quote, ‘The first casualty, when war comes, is truth’, was said during World War 1. He died on Aug. 6, 1945, the day the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
    Gilbert Sharp, Bury St Edmunds UK

  • Michael Herr in his book “despatches” based on his experience as a journalist in the Vietnam War.
    Martin Togher, London England

  • Aeschylus.
    Joy, Doha Qatar

  • In war, truth is the first casualty.
    Greek tragic dramatist (525 BC – 456 BC)
    B Smith, Chicago Il USA

  • The most fundamental of the Chinese fifth century general Sun Tzu’s principles for the conduct of war is that “All warfare is based on deception”.
    Ed Richardson, Deer Lake, Canada

  • Alfred E. Neumann
    David Page, Gatineau, Canada

  • Aeschylus

    Frank Olsen, Ringoes United States

  • Although frequently attributed to Sun Tzu (544?496 BC), “All warfare is based on deception”; the Sun Tzu quote actually refers to methods of subterfuge in war and goes further to explain, “Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”

    The first corroborated quote reflecting the true essence, almost verbatim is “In war, truth is the first casualty,” attributed to Greek writer/poet Aeschylus (525BC – 456BC).

    Reese, Jeffersonville, IN United States

  • “In war, truth is the first casualty”, this quote is from Aeschylus

    Ensar, Dusseldorf, Germany

  • Read “the First Casualty” by Philip Knightley – a history of deception in war – it’s all in there.
    John, London

  • Aeschylus

    “In war, truth is the first casualty.”

    Susanna Richards, Somerset West, South Africa

  • Aeschylus greek tragic dramatist
    525-546 BC
    In war, truth is the first casualty
    Andy, South Boston, Ma USA

  • There are now two books that give authoritative answers to these kinds of questions, namely the Yale Book of Quotations and the Dictionary of Modern Proverbs. The latter records that Mrs. Philip Snowden wrote in the Journal of Proceedings and Addresses of the National Education Association: “Someone has finely said that ‘truth is the first casualty in war’.” A similar quotation appears in E. D. Morel, Truth and the War (1916). The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs further notes that “Currently the proverb is often attributed to Aeschylus, but the attribution seems to be no older than the 1980s.”
    Fred Shapiro, Bethany, Connecticut USA

  • Soooooo many answers…. yet sooooo many of them are wrong, ignorant, and ethnocentrically shortsighted!

    The first to coin such a phrase (and then be PLAGIARIZED by all these other people that you all tout and argue over) was a Greek writer (Dramatist – theatrical arts) named Aeschylus.

    Good job proving the ignorance of the masses (especially since you can learn the etymology of this particular phrase with a little researching online these days… or by GOING TO COLLEGE and taking a dramatic literature course or two!)

    “Ignorance is a disease that can never truly be cured”

    James T., San Diego USA

  • Perhaps “James T., San Diego USA” would likely to cite precisely where Aeschylus wrote it. As presently he’s is looking the most ignorant poster here.
    Davey F=Dave, Ickenham England

  • This quote was stolen from Aeschylus “In war, the first casualty is truth.” Aeschylus lived from 456 B.C. to 524 B.C
    Jayme Ariss, Shelburne, Canada

  • Let’s cut the sniping. Would anyone like to support their arguments by accurately citing the primary source?

    Many thanks,

    Ian Buckingham, Norwich, UK

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