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In this kingdom the king really loves freedom of speech, thus he decided that dissonesty is a capital crime and sin.

When saying something, everyone involved must be cited by name and with date and exact words they spoke, sometimes even body language and tone must be cited.

Then ofcourse the listener can demand proof.

If the teller can't provide proof of what they are saying, then they have to pay a fine both to the listener and to the king.

The fine is 5% of their monthly production or 1200 hours of forced labour for the king and then for the listener, 2400 in total.

Suddenly starting a religion isn't so fun anymore and can make you into slave for life depending on how many people were listening to your tale of a talking bush on fire.

Given pre industrial technology, what are the more reliable ways to gather proof and to enforce the dissonesty law?

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    $\begingroup$ None really, 'proof' will have to be determined by some form of adversarial legal system (the only way I can see of organising what you want in the world you describe) // I'm now picturing the entire kingdom grinding to a halt as everyone gets drawn into employment in the required judicial infrastructure ;) which might make for a good (if silly) story in its own right of course, with no one left to plough the fields. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Aug 30 '21 at 13:53
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    $\begingroup$ Hard to be a poet in this king's kingdom... No jokes and no fairy tales will make for a sombre society. But at least lawyers will prosper. @Pelinore: Adversarial legal systems are a feature of the Anglo-Saxon judicial system. Civil law countries do just fine without. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Aug 30 '21 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP 'a legal system' then, I can see this driving whatever legal system exists b4 towards an adversarial model of some sort in practice regardless of how it starts out though, the defendants are going to want to 'defend' themselves after all, but then other models have survived this long so maybe not. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Aug 30 '21 at 14:01
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    $\begingroup$ Lots of missing elements. Who is allowed to bring suit? (Generally courts of law take a dim view on people trying to sue when they don't have any interest in the matter.) What happens when the plaintiff loses? Who pays the legal fees? (For example, in civil law countries the rule is that the loser pays, whereas in Anglo-Saxon countries AFAIK each party is normally responsible for its legal fees.) How many lawyers and judges does the country have? What are the limitations? What about statements about the future? What about undecidable statements, e.g., "I believe that WingsGoBrrrr is lying"? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Aug 30 '21 at 14:09
  • $\begingroup$ your king is going to get hanged $\endgroup$
    – Alex bries
    Aug 30 '21 at 15:59
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There are none

Even in today's world of video and still photos, reliability of evidence is a major issue. Evidence can be tampered, and the more is at stake, the more likely it's worth the risk and expense to do so.

In medieval technology levels, eyewitnesses are the only source or corroboration, and even a thousand years or more ago, eyewitnesses were well known to be unreliable -- if gainsaying a "truth" will harm someone you (secretly) hate, and someone else would have to go to some trouble to check your own (made up) story, it might be worth it to a witness to perjure themselves. Even if not, there's no way to be certain they remember the events accurately.

Remember the story of the blind men and the elephant -- they all contradicted each other, while all speaking the truth, as they knew it, about the same animal.

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  • $\begingroup$ Eye witnesses were not the only source of proof in the medieval times. Written documents were considered more reliable than eye witnesses, and of course confession was the queen of all proofs -- confessio est regina probationum was the legal maxim. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Aug 30 '21 at 14:01
  • $\begingroup$ Written documents that cover body language and expression aren't likely to exist for the kinds of "true or false" issues the question is about, though. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Aug 30 '21 at 14:07
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The king is being silly

Such a law against lying seems like a good idea, but it is exceedingly hard to actually formulate it.

The point being that it is trivially easy to work around it.

(I observe that the question artfully avoids actually stating the text of the law. It is difficult to reason about the implementation of a law without an actual statement of the law.)

In general, any statement of fact can trivially be converted into a statement of opinion by prefixing "I believe that". Instead of saying that WingsGoBrrrr has been seen consorting with unsavory characters at the local pub, just say that you believe that WingsGoBrrrr has been seen consorting with unsavory characters at the local pub. The prefixed statement is of course not judiciable, because the judge cannot see inside your mind and cannot tell whether you really believe that WingsGoBrrrr has been seen consorting with unsavory characters at the local pub, or not.

(Moreover, courts have generally expanded the sphere of statements of opinion to include statements which any reasonable person would have understood as statements of opinion. Courts of law tend to avoid relying on magic words.)

This is why no country has a law against lying in general, but all countries have laws against lying in specific contexts, such as contracts, reports or advertisements, where the truth of the matter can be ascertained, and where mere belief is not enough.

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  • $\begingroup$ (Nearly?) all also criminalize lying under oath -- but that presupposes that the court is able to determine that perjury has actually been committed. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Aug 30 '21 at 15:45