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Truth and Lies
Lying is universal. It is a deliberate falsehood said by people for a variety of reasons -- to create and enhance a desired social image, net some financial gain or avoid a negative situation. Yet, most people also consider themselves honest. People are often able to believe they are honest even though they lie or cheat in what they would call “little ways.” People are therefore able to tell themselves that they are mostly honest and not sociopathic liars; therefore, people are only dishonest in ways that they think do not matter. In reality, most people don’t suffer any cognitive dissonance over their integrity, and they have the best of both worlds with a minimum of work: they can lie or cheat in little ways that place them at an advantage, but they still get to view themselves as fundamentally honest. Research indicates that the mean frequency of deception is from 1:60 lies per day in social situations, while 84 “deceptions” in an 8-hour workday occur at the office. At least one study shows that 10 percent of communication between spouses is deceptive. Another study shows that 38 percent of college students lie or cheat. What does this say about us and about the life we are making for one another? • Are there good reasons for being completely honest even when we don’t think we need to be? • How do we honor honest people? Are honest people a refuge of trustworthiness, or do they bring discomfort? Are honest people just plain boring? • When in our lives do we recognize the difference between honesty and dishonesty? Who taught us? Which of these reasons for being honest have you experienced and when would a lie have been better? 1. Even telling a small lie risks the possibility of being “unmasked,” which could either damage our reputation or reduce the proclivity of others to trust us. 2. Telling one lie often leads to telling another more significant lie, which only snowballs. 3. There is no way to predict the consequences of lying, which in itself could cause guilt and even worse, distress. Some scientists have found that it can be argued that deception is not inherently immoral or unethical: It is the intent behind the lie. • Can there be a good lie? Is there a compassionate lie? • What makes lying so attractive, even in minor ways? Isn't trust attractive too? According to neuroresearcher Dan Ariely in The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty, in general, "We lie to obtain the advantage of protection that honesty will not provide." • Which of the following “protections” speak out to you by example. a. Ourselves: We lie to avoid suffering painful consequences, shame, embarrassment or conflict. b. Our Interests: We lie to get what we want: material goods, money, or attention and ratings. c. Our Image: We lie so others will think well of us. We cover up our failures. d. Our Resources: We lie to avoid doing something we don’t want to do. e. Protecting Others: We lie in order to protect our friends’ or family’s feelings. • Gay men, honesty and lying — How do you deal with gay deceivers? 1. In your experience, are gay men more likely to mislead you (or just lie) during the dating process? 2. What motivates gay men in particular to twist the truth among themselves?

San Francisco Buddhist Center

37 Bartlett Street · San Francisco, CA

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"Gay Intellectual Salon is an intentional community that engages members in conversations that stimulate thoughtfulness, explore new ideas and examine myths and taboos. We seek to spark insight and new understanding into Queer issues and to concerns that affect us all as humans. Gay Intellectual Salon creates a safe, fun space to exchange ideas and perspectives on topics of concern to the gay community and to society at-large."

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