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The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone--Especially Ourselves Paperback – June 18, 2013
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“Ariely raises the bar for everyone. In the increasingly crowded field of popular cognitive science and behavioral economics, he writes with an unusual combination of verve and sagacity.” (Washington Post)
“I thought [Ariely’s] book was an outstanding encapsulation of the good hearted and easygoing moral climate of the age.” (David Brooks, the New York Times)
“The best-selling author’s creativity is evident throughout. . . . A lively tour through the impulses that cause many of us to cheat, the book offers especially keen insights into the ways in which we cut corners while still thinking of ourselves as moral people.” (Time.com)
“Captivating and astute. . . . In his characteristic spry, cheerful style, Ariely delves deep into the conundrum of human (dis)honesty in the hopes of discovering ways to help us control our behavior and improve our outcomes.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Dan Ariely ingeniously and delightfully teases out how people balance truthfulness with cheating to create a reality out of wishful-blindness reality. You’ll develop a deeper understanding of your own personal ethics—and those of everybody you know.” (Mehmet Oz, MD; Vice-Chair and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University and host of The Dr. Oz Show)
“Anyone who lies should read this book. And those who claim not to tell lies are liars. So they sould read this book too. This is a fascinating, learned, and funny book that will make you a better person.” (A.J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically and Drop Dead Healthy)
“I was shocked at how prevalent mild cheating was and how much more harmful it can be, cumulatively, compared to outright fraud. This is Dan Ariely’s most interesting and most useful book.” (Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan)
“Through a remarkable series of experiments, Ariely presents a convincing case. . . . Required reading for politicians and Wall Street executives.” (Booklist)
From the Back Cover
The New York Times bestselling author of Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality returns with a thought-provoking work that challenges our preconceptions about dishonesty and urges us to take an honest look at ourselves.
Does the chance of getting caught affect how likely we are to cheat?
How do companies pave the way for dishonesty?
Does collaboration make us more or less honest?
Does religion improve our honesty?
Most of us think of ourselves as honest, but, in fact, we all cheat. From Washington to Wall Street, the classroom to the workplace, unethical behavior is everywhere. None of us is immune, whether it's a white lie to head off trouble or padding our expense reports. In The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, award-winning, bestselling author Dan Ariely shows why some things are easier to lie about than others; how getting caught matters less than we think in whether we cheat; and how business practices pave the way for unethical behavior, both intentionally and unintentionally. Ariely explores how unethical behavior works in the personal, professional, and political worlds, and how it affects all of us, even as we think of ourselves as having high moral standards. But all is not lost. Ariely also identifies what keeps us honest, pointing the way for achieving higher ethics in our everyday lives.
With compelling personal and academic findings, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty will change the way we see ourselves, our actions, and others.
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Top Customer Reviews
When I was a using addict, I lied so much that it became second nature. I told big lies, small lies, dirty lies, barefaced lies, white lies, and black ones too. My motto was, "Deny everything." Even when the deconstruction of my fabrication was readily apparent and the evidence of my malfeasance displayed before me...I lied.
I didn't realize that this particular shortcoming, one among many, was yet another manifestation of my ugly addiction. I just assumed that I was a liar, always was, and always will be, one more shameful label branded upon my less than reputable character. So I was relieved to discover that that's not who I truly am. You see, addiction cannot survive without dishonesty. Honesty is to addiction what water is to fire, what light is to darkness. The two cannot co-exist. And that would explain why the topic at my first recovery meeting was...you guessed it - honesty.
So that's why I would waste my oh-so-precious time reading a book titled "The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty". It's written by Dan Ariely who is a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University. He conducted many experiments to discover what motivates a person to cheat as well as what keeps them honest. He also discovered a couple of things that, counter-intuitively, have no effect on honesty.
So what increases dishonesty? Conflicts of interest, watching others behave dishonestly, the ability to rationalize our dishonesty, and, surprisingly, creativity, all seem to increase dishonesty. What decreases it? Taking pledges before the temptation, moral reminders such as honor codes or the ten commandments, also presented right before the temptation, and supervision (obviously), decreased cheating. And what had no effect?
Contrary to what you might expect, Ariely found that the amount of money to be gained and the probability of getting caught had no effect on whether a person would lie cheat or steal. And he found that most people, at least the people who participated in his experiments, will cheat a tiny bit, up to the level that allows them to retain their self-image as a reasonably honest individual.
While this book didn't exactly deal with the level of dishonesty that accompanies addiction, I still found it very interesting, chock-full of humorous anecdotes and Ariely's witty observations. I learned a little more about human nature, which is a fascinating subject to me, and you can bet that I'll be more aware of the forces at play the next time I'm tempted to lie, cheat, or steal.
Review Written by David Allan Reeves
Author of "Running Away From Me"
I know that experiments have varying degrees of external validity-- but the single sentence in the last chapter that revealed that these experiments had none really defeated the purpose of the whole book for me. (I have just finished another book by Francis Fukuyama, Trust: The Social Virtues and The Creation of Prosperity, that demonstrated the different things that some economies can produce because of varying levels of trust. So, Southern Italy produces things that are simple enough for family businesses to produce because no one can trust anyone outside of their family. But Northern Italy has a higher culture of trust and the big factories are located there.) He did the experiment with Chinese people. I happen to live in China, and have a pretty good idea that there have NEVER been three truthful consecutive statements spoken or written in the whole of Chinese history. And yet Ariely's tests find no difference.
One more time: If the results of these experiments don't hold up to explain big, real world findings, then what is the point of the book?
The writing itself was light and breezy. (After all, it IS a pop psychology book.) And it showed me that you can take some little concept and tweak it into a million little experiments. (Boy were those matrices well-worn!)
Oddly enough, the book also demonstrated the wisdom of the Talmud/ Rabbinical reasoning. And that is: The purpose of all the cumbersome mitzvot is to keep people AWAY from breaking any big laws (murder, rape). So, if you decide to not eat dairy with a meat fork, then it is easier to not kill your neighbor. This book could possibly make for an interesting discussion in a study group, but not much more than that.
Verdict: Worth a secondhand purchase. Not worth the Kindle price.
The author includes funny and appropriate anecdotes of his own life throughout the text, and while they illustrate his points, I find it strange that so much of the text relied on his anecdotes vs. actual research. I think if he were to critique his own book, he might mention the use of the availability heuristic and a sense of hyper-causality leading the narrative, rather than compelling research.
Still it was entertaining and some of the conclusions were worth noting.