4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2013
In Born Liars Ian Leslie dissects deceit through the lens of law, psychology and culture. It's a fascinating ride, but I wouldn't recommend the central section which covers self-deception for anyone feeling squeamish about their own illusions. Leslie unpacks many of the cognitive biases we have towards viewing ourselves positively and reading this book may just remove those illusions.
The first few chapters are recommended to all however, especially anyone enamoured with the idea of lie-detecting, whether with machine or person (spoiler its really hard to detect lies)
The last section on the culture of lying is eye-opening to say the least. The only flaw being a lack of depth and details.
In short Born Liars is a great read. Leslie errs away from his own opinion and reasoning (and I would have liked to hear his thesis), and relies heavily on other's academic material, making this book a strong technical piece, but perhaps lacking a personal touch or point.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2012
Lie is universally condemned. Since childhood, we were taught not to lie. However, the fact remains the same: people lie. Quite often, they lie without even realizing what they are doing. People are lying to others, but, mostly, to themselves.
I would not recommend this book as a moral guidance or a practical to-do manual for those who want to stop lying. However, it is deep and insightful in its approach. The author makes a point that lie is a part of our nature. Humans learned to lie at earliest stages of their development, and it is quite possible that lie helped us to evolve and to become as smart as we are now.
There is no wonder that lie is closely related to creative imagination. As a rule, liars are better adapted socially, since they can 'read' thoughts and feelings of others. On the other hand, some of mentally handicapped people don't lie and can't recognize when they're lied to.
One of the worst forms of deception is a self-deception, so the book tells of what we habitually do to distort our perception of reality.
Having said all that, the author still believes (like every rational person does) that lying is wrong. But we need to be aware of the context in which lying occurs, along with underlying psychological mechanisms of lying. Only then we'll be able to successfully (more or less) live up to a moral code that requires truthfulness.