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”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
May 30, 2016
Author and Harvard Business School social psychologist Amy Cuddy. (Photo by Bob O'Connor / Courtesy The Author)

Strike a power pose. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy on the power of presence when you’re ready to act and win.

May 30, 2016
Rock icon Donald Fagen looks back on a lengthy and ongoing career in his new memoir 'Eminent Hipsters.' He co-founded the classic rock group Steely Dan with Walter Becker in 1972. (Penguin Books USA)

Steely Dan frontman Donald Fagen talks “eminent hipsters” and the cultural outliers that shaped his sound. He joins us.

May 27, 2016
In this Oct. 27, 2015, photo,  Big Muddy Farms, an urban farm in northern Omaha, Neb. is seen amongst residential homes. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, we’ve got top gardeners spilling the beans on how to grow everything.

May 27, 2016
Riot police block off the Albuquerque Convention Center to anti-Trump protests following a rally and speech by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the convention center where the event was held, in Albuquerque, N.M., Tuesday, May 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Obama at Hiroshima. Turmoil at Trump rallies. Clinton’s emails, heating up. Sanders predicts a “messy” convention. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
In The Garden, Mother Nature Makes The Rules
Friday, May 27, 2016

Executive producer Karen Shiffman explains why she turns to her garden for food, friends and natrual comfort.

More »
WWII Vet Larry Kirby Reflects On American Values
Thursday, May 26, 2016

Looking ahead to Memorial Day, a World War II veteran looks back at the experiences that mattered to him, both in and out of war.

More »
Gloria Steinem Explains Her ‘Bernie Boys’ Comment
Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Feminist activist Gloria Steinem explains why her apparent diss of female supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders was anything but.

More »