liar! liar! pants on fire!

I’ve started reading The Honest Truth about Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone, Especially Ourselves by Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist.

I’m only a chapter or so into the book, but I’m very intrigued by some of the studies that Ariely describes.  Some say that behavioral economists are “annoying” (I won’t say who used this word) because they talk as if they’ve figured out the human condition (and I guess sometimes they do), but I find Ariely’s work interesting – at the least, it gives us something to think about when we consider how dishonesty works in our lives.

You can listen to a recent episode of the Diane Rehm Show on NPR that featured Ariely and his book – it’s a great introduction to the book and the issues he raises.

Here’s Ariely on TED in which he talks about “Our buggy moral code”:

Here’s another one from Ariely on “irrational behavior”:

So – won’t you read The Honest Truth About Dishonesty with me so we can talk about honesty and dishonesty?

“are we ready for morality pill?”

Peter Singer and Agata Sagan’s article “Are We Ready for a ‘Morality Pill’?” 

If continuing brain research does in fact show biochemical differences between the brains of those who help others and the brains of those who do not, could this lead to a “morality pill” — a drug that makes us more likely to help? Given the many other studies linking biochemical conditions to mood and behavior, and the proliferation of drugs to modify them that have followed, the idea is not far-fetched. If so, would people choose to take it? Could criminals be given the option, as an alternative to prison, of a drug-releasing implant that would make them less likely to harm others? Might governments begin screening people to discover those most likely to commit crimes? Those who are at much greater risk of committing a crime might be offered the morality pill; if they refused, they might be required to wear a tracking device that would show where they had been at any given time, so that they would know that if they did commit a crime, they would be detected.