Lying by Sam Harris, Book Notes
Is lying ever justified? This book goes to solve that question. Here are some of the quotes/ notes I got out of it:
We often behave in ways that are guaranteed to make us unhappy. Many of us spend our lives marching with open eyes toward remorse, regret, guilt, and disappointment.And nowhere do our injuries seem more casually self-inflicted, or the suffering we create more disproportionate to the needs of the moment, than in the lies we tell to other human beings. Lying is the royal road to chaos.
Endless forms of suffering and embarrassment could be easily avoided by simply telling the truth
The Mirror of Honesty
Honesty is a gift we can give to others. It is also a source of power and an engine of simplicity.
Avoiding a wide range of long-term problems, but at the cost of occasional, short-term discomfort.
Lying is the lifeblood of addiction.
Telling the truth can also reveal ways in which we want to grow, but haven’t jet.
Two Types of Lies
Two categories: the bad things we do (acts of commission) and the good things we fail to do (acts of omission)
We tend to judge the former far more harshly.
To lie about one’s age, marital status, career, etc. is one thing; to fail to correct false impressions whenever they arise is another.
What could be wrong with truly “white” lies? First, they are still lies. And in telling them, we incur all the problems of being less than straightforward in our dealings with other people. Sincerity, authenticity, integrity, mutual understanding—these and other sources of moral wealth are destroyed the moment we deliberately misrepresent our beliefs
By lying, we deny our friends access to reality—and their resulting ignorance often harms them in ways we did not anticipate. A white lie is simply a denial of these realities.
False encouragement is a kind of theft: it steals time, energy, and motivation a person could put toward some other purpose.
When we presume to lie for the benefit of others, we have decided that we are the best judges of how much they should understand about their own lives
These silences are lacerating. Wisdom remains unshared, promises unmade, and apologies unoffered. The opportunity to say something useful to the people we love soon disappears, never to return
We have already seen that children can be dangerous to keep around if one wants to lie with impunity.
“Honest feedback could have spared me an immense amount of wasted effort”
Lies beget other lies.
Lies must be continually protected from collisions with reality.
When you tell the truth, you have nothing to keep track of.
Lies require an extraordinary amount of work—all of which comes at the expense of authentic communication and free attention
The liar must weigh each new disclosure, whatever the source, to see whether it might damage the facade that he has built.
Research indicates that liars trust those they deceive less than they otherwise might—and the more damaging their lies, the less they trust, or even like, their victims
Vulnerability comes in pretending to be someone you are not.
Rumors, even if disproven, are always kept in our minds when we interact with that person. They sick essentially
“illusory truth effect.” Familiarity breeds credence
Lying is, almost by definition, a refusal to cooperate with others. It condenses a lack of trust and trustworthiness into a single act.
It is both a failure of understanding and an unwillingness to be understood. T
By lying, we deny others a view of the world as it is.
We also force upon ourselves subsequent choices—to maintain the deception or not—that can complicate our lives. In this way, every lie haunts our future.
How would your relationships change if you resolved never to lie again? What truths might suddenly come into view in your life? What kind of person would you become? And how might you change the people around you?
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