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My book review this week is on Sam Harris’ bookLying. As one who writes on developing a culture of honesty, I was hoping that this book was going to better explain WHY people lie. Or, offer some suggestions for dealing with people who are liars. Rather, the author’s point is to simply make the case that our world would be better if we stuck to honesty. He defines lying as “to intentionally mislead others when they expect honest communication.” (Loc. 66) The book includes a number of ethically challenging situations, and poses alternatives to lying. Some takeaways include:

  • Working with people who are honest is simply easier than working with people we can’t trust.
  • Falsely encouraging someone about their work deprives them of a relationship with us that is based on trust.
  • There is an overwhelming difficulty in recovering from falsehoods. So, when a company (or an individual) announces something that is dishonest, people will be inclined to continue to believe it, even after it has been proven untrue. This is referred to as the “illusory truth effect. Familiarity breeds credence.”  (Loc. 418)
  • If we want to build cooperative relationships, we cannot tolerate lying.