I’ve seen some people pull off bangs, but as a general rule if you ask me about your hair I will lie. Unless you have awesome hair. In which case I won’t have to. But you won’t know which is which unless you ask my opinion before you get the cut. That’s how I roll, and I’ve always been up front about it. This system works because if someone actually cares about and seeks your advice, they’re likely to take it. If they don’t, they’ll usually argue with you anyway, and then go ahead and do whatever it is they had decided on beforehand. And after-the-fact opinion seeking is only for reassurance purposes, as we all know. When it comes to hair-dos this scenario always plays out the same way for me.* And it oddly plays out often.
Ok, so what’s this nonsense all about? Well, I recently realized that some of the material on my ‘to read’ list had fallen by the wayside and I decided to start picking up the slack by reading through NeuroScientist Sam Harris’s ebook Lying yesterday. It was published in Sept. 2011 so if this were a review it would be late. Luckily the subject of lying isn’t exactly time sensitive.
When it comes to white lies, I find that I am quite guilty, though I try to counteract them when I can, as in the example above, by reminding friends that I will spare their feelings in after-the-fact scenarios.
The ‘book’ Lying is really just an essay but it raises some interesting thoughts about how and why we lie, whether we should never lie, and especially how white lies affect us and others in unforeseeable ways. I find that it’s generally within the purview of common sense to tell us when and which ‘big’ lies are bad, or when lying big may be necessary, but the white lies, it turns out, are harder to pin down. The question of denying people we care about our view of reality, and whether it is ever worth it, is something we rarely even consider.
It’s difficult to disagree with Sam Harris on most points in the book, and for the most part there’s no real urge to. But at one point (in the notes) he disregards (questions even) the idea of self-deception. I strongly suspect self-deception is a real, tangible phenomenon, separate from ‘truly believing one’s own falsehoods” (making it tantamount to honesty), and is made possible by consciously (or as a learned action) omitting to extend self-reflection further than initial impulses (I’m quite capable of fooling myself to try to achieve a desired set of behaviors that I have no real motivation, or sometimes ability, towards, for example. Of course this is only apparent in retrospect or else it wouldn’t apply).
If you haven’t read Lying yet, do yourself a favor and check it out. It’ll only take about a half hour to get through, and it has some quite hilarious points as well. Unexpected, and very welcome.
This post was brought to you by Mercury (Hg).
* Folks don’t put much stock in my opinions on hair since I essentially have a lack-of-’do’ myself.