I have been giving a thought to this statement:

If Pinocchio’s nose grows whenever he pronounces a false statement, it would make a marvellous tool for science, and Pinocchio could test any hypothesis easily and instantly.


Naturally, Pinocchio is not all-knowing, therefore a question raises, does he have to be aware that he is lying for his nose to grow? Or does it grow every time a statement he says is false?

I am mostly interested in the original The Adventures of Pinocchio, but if there is no sufficient information, any derived works like the Disney movie will work too.

  • 20
    Of course, scientifically verifying that Pinocchio's nose behaves as described would quite a feat in and of itself. Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 7:46
  • 72
    Pinocchio: "My nose will now grow."
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 15:53
  • 77
    If you don't know that you're lying it's not called lying, it's called "being wrong"
    – Plutor
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 17:25
  • 15
    If you don't know you are lying, by definition you are not lying. A lie implies deceit. Ignorance is not deceitful.
    – ESR
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 3:20
  • Related : scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/175783/…
    – Goufalite
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 6:23

1 Answer 1


Here is the text from The Adventures of Pinocchio where the fairy tells him why his nose is growing:

The Fairy sat looking at him and laughing.
"Why do you laugh?" the Marionette asked her, worried now at the sight of his growing nose.
"I am laughing at your lies."
"How do you know I am lying?"
"Lies, my boy, are known in a moment. There are two kinds of lies, lies with short legs and lies with long noses. Yours, just now, happen to have long noses."

The Oxford dictionary defines a lie as:

an intentionally false statement.

Merriam Webster's definition of a lie is:

to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive

While we can't verify that the author went by these particular definitions, the meaning of "lies" can be presumed to be equivalent to the above definitions. The defining factor of a lie that separates it from a mere false statement is that there is an intent to falsify something.

I doubt we will ever find a canonical instance where Pinocchio states a false statement (without an intention to deceive) just to test if his nose grows. Till the time that happens (if it does), I submit that we assume that Pinocchio cannot be used as a marvellous tool for science, due to the distinction between a false statement and a lie.

  • 9
    In this case, the innate "detect lies" ability of paladins in D&D also can't be used as a tool of science, since the keyword lie precludes deception, and mistakes are not deceptive in nature. In other words, a lie detector won't detect a lie if you believe what you've just said. Pinocchio's nose may be an exception to this rule in that his nose may elongate if anyone is aware that the statement is untrue. Because magic.
    – nurettin
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 14:19
  • 7
    Interesting - does that mean Pinocchio never told a lie with short legs, as his legs never got shorter?
    – RDFozz
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 16:52
  • 16
    Yeah now I just really want to know what the difference is between "lies with short legs and lies with long noses" Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 16:59
  • 24
    @user568458 Lies with short legs won't get you very far. Lies with no legs can't stand up to scrutiny. It's a proverb that means you can't get away with a lie. The Fairy was making a pun. Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 17:49
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Null
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 14:21

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