Lying (2011)

Sam Harris’ latest work made some waves. Not because of the content itself but because it was released in digital format only. At only 26 pages Lying is a quick read and a simple essay of sorts. Harris makes the argument that lies are bad on societal, personal, and individual levels. They weaken relationships, build mistrust, and ruin credibility.  Some of the essays situational examples are poorly portrayed and should have been vetted a bit more. While the message remains clear (and is one that is difficult with which to disagree) this may be his weakest work to date; then again it could be a weakness on my part and a re-analysis may be due. Yet Sam is lucky enough to have a-list friends dropping praise:

This essay is quite brilliant. (I was hoping it would be, so I wouldn’t have to lie.) I honestly loved it from beginning to end. LYING is the most thought-provoking read of the year.

Ricky Gervais

In this brief but illuminating work, Sam Harris applies his characteristically calm and sensible logic to a subject that affects us all—the human capacity to lie. And by the book’s end, Harris compels you to lead a better life because the benefits of telling the truth far outweigh the cost of lies—to yourself, to others, and to society.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist, American Museum of Natural History

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Lying (2011)

  1. pml

    Never read his other stuff but I picked it up because it was cheap, seemed interesting, and I wanted to try the whole Kindle Singles thing.

    I definitely need to read it again but I really think that it’s not so much a work as a challenge to people, based on some solid logic, to endeavor to be more honest and forthright. The section about telling lies in order to spare the feelings of friends/relatives was spot on. I know there have been numerous occasions in my life where friends have been dishonest to spare my feelings and I’ve always resented them for that; those events have really made me try to tell friends/relatives things even when it may hurt them because I know how it is on the other side.

    • The one thing about Sam Harris, and I think you nailed it, is that his topics are deeply personal and challenging. It is less some mumbo-jumbo philosophical semantics but an actual applied to real-life quest for knowledge and progress. If you haven’t picked them up, Letter to a Christian Nation and End of Faith are my favorites of his.

      • pml

        Yah I have those two on my never-ending list of books to read. I’ll get to them eventually. Thankfully with the Kindle I am reading more books faster than I have in years.

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