Trust Me, I'm Lying

True, if you ignore the fact that there is no such thing as ‘truth’.

This strikes me as being about the same as this:

I think sometimes (lots of times) Jeff just writes to fill up the blog, and I loose my time reading it. And the comments try to fix it. And I’m telling the truth.

It seems like the Radical Honesty movement assumes that because one feels something, or thinks it, then it is true. I feel and think lots of things that are unhelpful, untrue, and just plain wrong.

The movement needs a better definition of truth beyond ‘whatever I’m feeling or thinking at the moment.’

I think there’s a distinction being missed. It’s one thing to lie to someone. It’s another to simply choose not to say anything. (“if you don’t got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all”, as my mother put it).

Saying every single thought that comes into your head, stream-of-consciousness style, isn’t going to get you in trouble for your honesty. It’ll get you in trouble because no-one likes a blabbermouth.

Sometimes being honest is good, sometimes not. Always saying the first thing that comes to yor mind is a recipe for trouble in the long term. Say you are in the subway and you see a group of young men and you think to yourself “what a worthless pile of human shit that is standing before me.” One of them sees you looking at them and makes the typical male ego saving challlenge of “what cha looking at?” If you respond “a worthless pile of human shit”, let me know how that works out for you.

Wait! You don’t like Vanilla Coke? I love it.

Certainly in the UK I have found that the vast vast vast majority of people believe themselves to be much smarted, talented and skilled than they are. You cannot have a society that is built on truth when it is already held together by a lack of honesty.

I am under no illusions that I am an average web developer at best right now. In 10 years time that may or may not have changed but I find it amazing how easy people find it to genuinely fool themselves into over selling their own abilities.

@ the chap learning guitar for years while everyone was telling him he was amazing. What made you think that you were amazing? Could you play anything put in front of you regardless of complexity or style. Were you able to play like some of the best guitarists around?

I play a lot of sport and I always have done. I played a lot of them at county level when I was younger and what always amazes me is the number of people who think they are good at something simply because everyone around them is shocking. Big fish in a small pond. Having not played badminton for over 10 years since I was 13 I still beat a guy that considered himself a really good player. I know I am not very good any more but even though I was better than him, he though he was great.

I love criticism (as long as it is constructive) as it allows you to improve. I can’t help but feel that people must know how good they are at something in most cases, they just don’t want to admit it and a lot of people become very defensive when called on it.

Firstly: If I could sign in to comment anonymously, I could be more honest in this comment. Read from that what you will.

I think people end up being defensive when they’re honest. Because honesty is painful for the speaker too.

When you speak, people frame what you’re saying in their expectations; if I suddenly start being ‘honest’ about comments to people who are used to a veneer of politeness, they will perceive it far worse.

Some people punish you for honesty; you say something negative and they jump a mile and cry or hate you - they’re sensitive or insecure or whatever. These days, I just put up with that. If they’re ready for honesty, they’re ready. If they play that game, that’s their game. The won’t get the joy of honesty.

As others have pointed out, what we think are not truths but opinions, or feelings. So when you ‘share’ your ‘truth’ you might need to warn them that that’s what you’re saying. I think honesty is not an absolute concept in the mind.

Honesty is something to edge towards, for me, with people that can take it. Most people can’t.

I find it interesting that people tend to talk about “The Truth”, when there are usually a near-infinite number of Truths (plural) active at any given time around a given situation. They’re subjective as @Skiihne pointed out, and part of what we consider free will is exercised in choosing which version to let past our teeth. Even a direct question like “do I suck at playing guitar?” has a huge number of “truthful” answers that may sound contradictory, based on the responder’s own knowledge of guitar, musical taste, mood, interpretation of the talent pool the questioner wants to be compared against, etc.

so my personal goal, which I see as being very different from the radical truthiness described above, is to avoid lying, enjoy my freedom to choose the truth that’s the best representation of how I feel towards the person I’m communicating with, and be sure that whatever I say is something I would stand behind regardless of whose ears that information made its way to.

…and by “lying”, I mean “stating or implying the truth of something I know to be false”

An old piece of wisdom “Speak the truth in love”.

I’m reminded of something Dietrich Bonhoeffer said: “truth that is not spoken in love becomes a lie.” Truth, in the meaningful human sense, is bigger than whether something is factual or an accurate depiction of your feelings at the moment. I think the latter is really what is being discussed here, and that’s not really what honesty is about so much. As an earlier commenter noted that kind of “truth” without grace can simply be cruelty.

There was an interesting story on NPR the other day about how people end up committing fraud. Often it’s in the service of what they perceive to be helping others — cutting people more slack than they should with rules, fudging results to help a friend or family member, etc. No one ever starts by saying “I’m going to be a liar today.” It’s easier to lie in that circumstance than to hold on to some abstract principle like “loans should only be given to worthy people” and “lower emissions will save the environment.” Everyone imagines he or she has altruistic or “good” reasons to be dishonest, but it’s exactly that sort of untruthfulness, practiced on a mass scale, that ends up wrecking economies and polluting the earth.

So you don’t have to always say exactly what’s on your mind. But honesty can mean looking “mean” and “hurtful” sometimes.

April Fool’s! Oh, no, it’s May 1st. Then I don’t get it. What does this have to do with coding? Maybe it’s an illustration of how painfully wrong smart people can be in areas outside their expertise? Anyway, sorry if I missed something, but your post looks embarrassingly naive to me, and had me reaching for my book of Oscar Wilde quotes.

The one I can’t find was something like:

Lady: Let me be perfectly honest with you.
Oscar Wilde: God forbid!

(But no doubt better said).

A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.

The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.

Also, this Jewish proverb:

Truth is the safest lie.

Your assertion is self contradictory. You assert there is no “truth”. Is your assertion “truth”?

@Dan it’s as true as your sense of humor

Okay, let me take a crack at this Radical Honesty thing.

I resent you for oversimplifying the original article.

I typed out a long bit about how lying lets you harbor very uncharitable opinions, and that to just stop lying isn’t enough. You need to stop being so damned judgmental and attempt to help people.

Then I read the article, and Brad actually says something similar farther down. That lying to someone when you think their stuff is crap is “avoiding your responsibility as one human being to another. […] don’t bullshit yourself about it being kind.”

I think you’ve missed the important bits here.

I always tell the truth. I recognized early on (10 or 11 years old) that always telling the truth is the best policy, even if it has temporary negative consequences, which I credit to having a good Christian teaching from my parents (not only telling me right from wrong, but WHY they are the way they are above and beyond mere commands).

I live my life in such a way that I can speak the truth at any time, and not be afraid of consequences. There are a exceptions, and those take the form of simply not saying anything, saying “I won’t talk about that,” or letting people believe what they want to believe.

Even though Christ never lied or even entertained the idea of lying, He didn’t up and say whatever he thought at all times. That’s not lying, that’s being silent (in front of your accusers).

Finally, let me point out that lying, while simply defined as “conveying a non-truth with the intent to deceive,” (without the intent to deceive, it is sarcasm or joking) is wrong because it benefits the liar at the expense of the person told the lie (in some amount, possibly insignificant). The Bible shows at least two examples where an individual or group were rewarded by God after they told a direct lie at immense risk to themselves for the sake of a third party who was being harmed by the person lied to. So there may be an argument for morally good lies.

You don’t have to lie to have discretion in what you decide to say. Always tell the truth.

Saying every thought that enters your mind is a totally different subject. My 3 year old does that, and believe me, she (and all of us) will be better off when her “filter” activates. It’s entertaining, but not productive.

In Buddhism, one of the training precepts is to avoid ‘False’ speech. I think that it sits somewhere short of radical honestly. Speak the truth, but know when to stop. Speak only when it does not harm you or others. Solid advice.