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Why Everybody Lies (Yes, Even You)

This program was originally broadcast on May 27, 2015.

Are we natural born liars? Is it human to lie? Inside the new documentary, “ (Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies."

The logo from the new film, "(Dis)Honesty," which is also the logo for the Dishonesty Project. (The Dishonesty Project)
The logo from the new film, "(Dis)Honesty," which is also the logo for the Dishonesty Project. (The Dishonesty Project)

Lying liars lie.  That’s clear.  But does everyone else lie too? Are we all liars? A new documentary called “(Dis)Honesty – The Truth About Lies” rounds up the research and lays out what we know. Little lies, white lies, big lies, whoppers. What we condemn and what we roll with. It’s quite a smorgasbord. You may think you’re above all that. But are you? And what about the power-brokers who frame our world? What happens when they lie? This hour On Point: the truth about lies.
-- Tom Ashbrook


Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University. Founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight. Author of "Predictably Irrational," "Irrationally Yours" and "The Honest Truth About Dishonesty." Featured in the new documentary film, "(Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies." (@danariely)

Dallas Denery, professor of history and chair of the history department at Bowdoin College. Author of the book, "The Devil Wins."

From Tom’s Reading List

Los Angeles Times: 'Truth About Lies' tells it like it is. Really — "Dan Ariely, an author, behavioral economist and Duke University professor, is our genial and articulate guide who lectures on the social, psychological and economic effects of lying. He also takes us through amusing experiments conducted to test human integrity, particularly when influenced by monetary gain. Spread throughout Ariely's discourse are a variety of involving, true-life examples of folks whose untruths — white lies, tall tales, 'fudges' and whoppers — ranged from simply irritating family members to landing said liars in prison."

The Science of Us: The Truth About the Ways People Lie — "Ariely has favored something called the matrix experiment, a set of 20 straightforward math problems that anyone could solve, were they given enough time. The trick is, as Ariely explains, they never give their study volunteers enough time. The participants get just five minutes to answer as many questions as they can; then, they take their papers up to the front of the room and shred them. Next to the shredder is one of the experimenters, and the students are instructed to tell this person how many questions they answered correctly, and they’ll be paid the according amount of dollars.But there’s a second trick: The shredder didn’t actually shred their papers. It only shred the sides, so the researchers can later see who was telling the truth. On average, people solve four problems correctly, but they tend to report getting six right."

PASTE Magazine(Dis)Honesty: The Truth about Lies — "Doping, insider trading, high-profile affairs—these are all examples of lies that pretty much everyone condemns. We identify the people who’ve committed these dishonest acts, the cheaters, as bad people. But everybody lies, some just do it more often or on a bigger scale."

Watch A Trailer For "(Dis)Honesty"

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