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?

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cheaters strike california

This week, three high school students were arrested for stealing test papers and breaking into the school to change their grades on teachers’ computers. They gained remote access to the computers from their homes, and they continued to make changes for about 6 months.  Being good business persons, they even charged classmates money to change their grades for them. Unfortunately, it’s a familiar story.  Bright kids. AP students. It’s a very competitive school. And so on.

I looked up Palos Verdes High School where this cheating scandal happened.  Just curious.  I didn’t come across any additional information about the scandal, but I did notice their policies regarding cheating.

First, it seems that the policies are directed at the teachers.  Most of the statements begin with “Teacher must.”  For instance, rather than placing responsibility on the students, they place it on the teachers. For example, “Teachers must exercise reasonable caution in securing their test and test keys.”

Second, I am particularly interested in this statement: “Cheating involving homework is to be handled within the classroom. It does not fall within the stated guidelines.”  It seems to suggest that cheating on homework is no big deal.  It means a student could get caught cheating on homework over and over again and never be dealt with the school’s overall policies that state that a second offense will result in F for the class.  Apparently you have to cheat on a test or a quiz in order to really get in trouble.  I wonder why this is.  Isn’t cheating cheating whether it was on a homework or on a test?

Of course, I am not blaming the school’s student code of conduct for the behavior of these “alleged” (I suppose I should say that) thieves.  Just curious about how different schools treat cheating…

I’m not entirely sure how to close this post. I’m just… a little sad today.