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In Lying, best-selling author and neuroscientist Sam Harris argues that we can radically simplify our lives and improve society by merely telling the truth in situations where others often lie. He focuses on "white" lies—those lies we tell for the purpose of sparing people discomfort—for these are the lies that most often tempt us. And they tend to be the only lies that good people tell while imagining that they are being good in the process.
Control Number: 2013947127 ISBN 978-1-9400-5101-7 1. Ethics. 2. Values. 3. Lying and deception. I. Title. 10987654321 For Emma Contents Lying APPENDIX A: A Conversation with Ronald A. Howard APPENDIX B: A Conversation with Readers ACKNOWLEDGMENTS NOTES ABOUT THE AUTHOR A NOTE ON THE TYPE Among the many paradoxes of human life, this is perhaps the most peculiar and consequential: We often behave in ways that are guaranteed to make us unhappy. Many of us spend our lives
like without it. Another difficult case comes to mind, also from a reader: You’re having sex with your wife or husband and fantasizing about someone else. Later, your spouse has the temerity to ask what you were thinking about when you were having sex. The honest answer is that you were thinking about someone else. But let’s say that you know your spouse will not do well with this information. He or she will view it as a real breach of trust, rather than just a natural consequence of having a
option that gave you information you might prefer to the truth: When you wanted to go fast, it would indicate that you were going even faster than you were. When you passed a gas station, it would tell you that you didn’t need any gas. Of course, nobody wants that. Well, then, why would you want it in your life in general? Harris: However, there are some arguments, from both an evolutionary and a psychological perspective, that suggest that having one’s beliefs ever so slightly out of register
16http://healthland.time.com/2011/01/06/study-linking-vaccines-to-autism-is-fraudulent/http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/01/05/autism.vaccines/index.html 17Several readers have pointed out that not all conspiracy theorists are liars—in fact, most are entirely sincere in their beliefs. This is probably true. But there is also no question that many conspiracy theories get their start as lies. Who, for instance, was the first to say that “four thousand Jews didn’t show up to work at the World Trade
American, Nature, Rolling Stone, and many other journals. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Economist, Newsweek, The Times (London), The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, The Annals of Neurology, and elsewhere. Mr. Harris is a cofounder and the CEO of Project Reason, a nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society. He received a degree in philosophy from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA.