One of my all time favorite movies is Charade, with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. In it, they have this great exchange, where Hepburn’s character is trying to determine if Grant’s character is trustworthy:
REGGIE (Hepburn): Alex, how can you tell if anyone’s lying or not?
DYLE (Grant): You can’t.
R: There must be some way.
D: There’s an old riddle about two tribes of Indians. The Whitefeet always tell the truth and the Blackfeet always lie. So one day you meet an Indian, you say, “Hey Indian, what are you, a truthful Whitefoot or a lying Blackfoot?” He says, “I’m a truthful Whitefoot.” But which is he?
R: Why couldn’t you just look at his feet?
D: Because he’s wearing moccasins.
R: Well then he’s a truthful Whitefoot, of course.
D: Why not a lying Blackfoot?
R: Which one are you?
D: A truthful Whitefoot.
Of course, you (along with Reggie) have to wonder if he is. After all, wouldn’t a lying Blackfoot say the same thing?
There’s actually a longer brain teaser (scroll down about a third of the way down the page) about lying Blackfeet and truthful Whitefeet. It involves a professor at a fork in the road trying to get to a village, and he doesn’t want to get lost, but how can he trust the answer he gets from the native in front of him?
The point is, how do you know who you can trust? And rarely are humans entirely truthful nor are there people who lie all the time, regardless of the fact that we say, “If his mouth is moving, he’s lying.” So then the questions multiply – Is he trustworthy? Is what he is saying the truth?
Can you ever really know for sure?
Are you a truthful Whitefoot or a lying Blackfoot? Take off your moccasins, please.