Saturday, August 04, 2012
Lying by Sam Harris
A book advocating for less lying and more honesty, this is a straightforward and accessible summary of the risks of lying and the benefits of being honest. The arguments are interspersed with mini-stories depicting someone lying only to subsequently be exposed, or where the lie interferes with relationships, or prevents people from recognizing and resolving real problems, or undermines our willingness to trust others enough to build well-functioning communities and societies, along with counter-examples depicting someone being truthful in contexts where people are tempted to lie. He argues that truthfulness simplifies our lives since we don't have any need to make an ongoing effort to protect previous lies, an effort which could itself spawn more lies or unravel. He points out that truthfulness can increase one's own influence and improve the odds for better outcomes, and that truthfulness sometimes requires that we take communal level responsibility instead of trying to pass on that responsibility to others or avoid responsibility. Honesty is actually easy, yet it is no less sophisticated and intellectual than the alternative.