Movie:  (DIS) HONESTY — The Truth About Lies


We all love a good story about the rise and fall of an unworthy person.  It is the stuff of history, fiction and our daily news.  Of course, the bigger the rise, the better the fall.  Right?

But what if the “unworthy person” was ourselves?  What if, at some point in our job, our marriage, our friendships or our interactions in our communities, we lied, cheated or stole.  And now, suddenly, it became known?  Not going to happen, you say?  Well, you may not want to swear on a bible to that.

According to extensive research presented by Dan Ariely, Behavioral Economics at Duke University and Francesca Gino, Decision Research at University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill …

We ALL are dishonest — at least, a little.  And those “little” dishonesties have a huge impact on every aspect of our lives.dishonesty

In a compelling, humorous and thought-provoking blend of behavioral experiments, research and candid personal interviews with cheaters, liars and thieves (many nationally known), (DIS) HONESTY shows us just how insidious, ubiquitous and contagious cheating has become across all social, economic, governance spectrums.

From the perspective of an athlete, a wife, an administrator, an accountant, a blogger, and a referee we see that no matter how smart, rational and good we like to think of ourselves, we don’t alway think thoughtfully, rationally or compassionately.  As each story unfolds, we see how a “normal” person starts down a slippery slope of rationalized self-interest that ends in jail, disgrace and/or ruined lives.

Through excellent storytelling, (DIS) HONESTY establishes firmly in the viewers mind the critical role dishonesty plays in our personal lives and society as a whole.  It shares a wealth of information and insights into the hows and whys of dishonesty, but only briefly touches on future research into possible ways to overcome dishonesty.  Unfortunately, this is an important problem that needs fixing, starting now!!

There is a lot to digest in this documentary, but here are my personal take aways:

Dishonesty is a downward spiral that hurts us — and them.

Each and every time someone lies, cheats or steals, they undermine their ability to see themselves as capable and worthy.  By being dishonest they are admitting to themselves and confessing to all of us that they don’t believe in themselves enough to acquire or achieve something through legitimate means.  And they set the stage for more dishonesty.

Dishonesty reaches beyond the personal tragedy of perps and victims.

Dishonesty lives in all of us.  Yet, our very survival requires that we trust in and depend on people in every aspect of our communities, industries, organizations, institutions, jobs and relationships.  We see and feel the impacts of hundreds of dishonesties daily both from without and from within.  And each day we trust the world around us a little less.

Dishonesty seeks protection from honesty.

Dishonesty seeks the social structures that welcomes self-interest and rationalized “good”.  It hides in the cultural landscape of impersonal institutions, unethical social norms, biases, and willful ignorance.  It feeds on the negative emotions of fear, greed, hate, envy, resentment, distrust, …

Dishonesty’s future is in our hands.

If we are honest with ourselves, we already know what is needed to combat dishonesty.  It is not top-down law and order solutions.  But a bottom-up response from each of us taking responsibility for developing a personal mindset and code of conduct and demanding social standards that embrace compassion, humility, common good, knowledge, responsibility, accountability…

This is one of the best movie documentary I’ve seen and the information is important and timely.  I look forward to future documentaries by Dan Ariely and Yael Melamede and exploring even further the many complexities and pathos of (DIS)HONESTY.




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