Posts tagged with Lying
The opportunity to deceive others is ever present and often tempting, and each instance casts us onto some of the steepest ethical terrain we ever cross. Few of us are murderers or thieves, but we have all been liars. And many of us will be unable to get safely into our beds tonight without having told several lies over the course of the day. What does this say about us and about the life we are making with one another?
One of the worst things about breaking the law is that it puts one at odds with an indeterminate number of other people. This is among the many corrosive effects of having unjust laws: they tempt peaceful and (otherwise) honest people to lie so as to avoid being punished for behavior that is ethically blameless.
We are often tempted to encourage others with insincere praise. In this we treat them like children - while failing to help them prepare for encounters with those who will judge them like adults. I’m not saying that we need to go out our way to criticize others. But when asked for our opinion, we do our friends no favors by pretending not to notice flaws in their work, especially when those whose are not their friends are bound to notice these same flaws. Saving our friends disappointment and embarrassment is a great kindness. And if we have a history of being honest, our praise and encouragement will actually mean something.
Big lies have led many people to reflexively distrust those in positions of authority. As a consequence, it is now impossible to say anything of substance on climate change, environmental pollution, human nutrition, economic policy, foreign conflicts, pharmaceuticals, and dozens of other subjects without a significant percentage of one’s audience expressing paralyzing doubts about even the most reputable sources of information. Our public discourse appears permanently riven by conspiracy theories.
When we presume to lie for the benefit of others, we have decided that we are the best judges of how much they should understand about their own lives - about how they appear, their reputations, or their prospects in the world. This is an extraordinary stance to adopt toward other human beings, and it requires justification. Unless someone is suicidal or otherwise on the brink, deciding how much he can know about himself seems the quintessence of arrogance. What attitude could be more disrespectful of those we care about.
Sam Harris put out a ‘Kindle Single’ ebook. It’s $1.99. I’m excited to read it.
"In this brief but illuminating work, Sam Harris applies his characteristically calm and sensible logic to a subject that affects us all—the human capacity to lie. And by the book’s end, Harris compels you to lead a better life because the benefits of telling the truth far outweigh the cost of lies—to yourself, to others, and to society." - Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Has anyone read this yet?
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Yes, I really like Sam Harris. I’ve read The Moral Landscape and his arguments are really solid. He’s not xenophobic, etc. He is tough on Islam but he’s tough on all religions really. His intentions are quite good. He even said in the video blog that he questions his methods sometimes and will continue to had an evolving opinion on how criticism of religion should be handled. I’ve also watched many many debates of his and he is quite the intellectual. Honestly, it feels like mental exercise when I listen to his arguments and ideas. Also, his “Ask Sam Harris Anything” blogs are incredible. He discusses free will, atheism, criticism, animal rights, vegetarianism, spirituality, morality, liberals, drug use and meditation.
He said he was thinking about writing an ebook about free will. Check out his thoughts of free will right here. His rebuttal to the claim that atheism takes away meaning from life is fantastic as well.