Re: Why Is Dishonesty so Interesting by Dan Aviely

Discuss the November 2016 Philosophy Book of the Month, The Honest Truth About Dishonesty.

Re: Why Is Dishonesty so Interesting by Dan Aviely

Post Number:#1  Postby Wklau » November 16th, 2016, 10:42 pm

To me, the terms “cheating” and “dishonesty” are different, especially a minor cheating, such, for instance, parking illegally, teaching free lectures, and the Matrix Task may not be consider as dishonest, at least they are not at criminal level. However, as depicted in the text, “stole only $60 that night in gift shops”, “those three sinister C-level architects of Enron”, and “bring dozens of pencils from work” may count as different level of dishonest, they should more or less legally guilty.

Dan then asks: “[I]s it more money, more cheating?” I am not saying that Dan’s experimental and control group was a wrong setting, but I think it is very depends, because from 50 cents to 5 dollars over the MIT campus (stratified sampling, adult) is not the same as from 50 cents to 50 million over the general public (random sampling, adult). What I mean is that, a small among of value may not able to reflect the intrinsic honesty of the general population.

Suppose we change the scenario a little bit, we keep the conditions of “25 cents per question, shred the whole worksheet, without being caught/punished, the average is 4 corrects out of 20, and self-paying condition”. But imagine that the new sizable bowl of money is filled with quarters, loonies, 5 million and 50 million. If so, rationally, the intuitive theory was the same as the premise of the SMORC. But they were wrong as well, no one take 5 dollars, since no one correctly answers all 20 matrices. As Groucho Marx said (I rephrase his words), if I tell you “I take one loony and two quarters”, I am a crook. Since I am within the general public, and I am rationalist. So I don’t have to response my chance emotionally, I will take at least 5 million, this is consistent with my sensory behavior, and I feel comfortable with my morality because I didn’t hurt anyone. However, if the sample space is stratified, says, if I were Bill Gates, properly I won’t take anything from the bowl, or less than two loonies. In short, my dishonesty, in this case, as depicted in chapter 2 regarding to the “locksmiths”, I am the 98% of the general public who are immoral or will cheat when the opportunity arises.

This little joke suggested the possibility that certain types of experiments can, more or less, alter our real moral standards. “If not being caught” means God is asleep, Evil is on duty. Hence, policemen and jails are inevitably established in any society.

Here is another real-life experiment that not involving money, guess what comes next? Suppose there is an online Philosophy 101 exam with 100 multiple choice questions, conditions are closed book, no internet, no communication, 2 hours duration. Suppose further that answer key is provided, once you finish the exam, count the number of corrected answers by yourself, and submit your marks online. So, imagine that you are one of the students, would you cheat? And if so, by how much?

Unsurprisingly, one may conclude that many student did over reported their mark. Too, unsurprisingly, the professor knows such a game more than anyone else, hence such an opportunity will never happen to you. Instead, online multiple choice in university is typically open book, no communication, answer key will be posted after the deadline, and marks are graded by computer. An old maxims: “Trust is a good thing, but control is a better one.” Mankind is basically untrustful, both academic and non-academic group. In short, students’ dishonesty in this case is rest on the outcome of benefits (grading).

I am pretty sure Princeton and Yale provide online credit courses that should involving multiple choice questions as well, I am also pretty sure that the administration of Princeton and Yale will not trust their students no matter they have signed an honor code or not. In short, the honesty-building mechanisms such as “Ten Commandments-like” are only practical for the honest cheater. For the giant cheater, such, for instance, finance institute, stockbroker, insurance company, who legally cheating openly, are in fact absolutely unpracticed.

With regard to Eynav and Tali, by Dan’s design, the sample size of experimental group (Eynai) and control group (Tali) are both n =1, it should be too small for statistical purpose. I wonder that if there were only 50 Eynav-like (severely vision disability) and 50 Tali-like (able-bodied) customers shopping in this farmer market every day, then what will be happen from those sellers. Are they give all good apples to Eynai-like? Leave all not so good apples to Tali-like customers?

Note that, Eynay is noticeably blind with a white cane. I think, in our contemporary society in North-America, the moral correctness, and the mercy attitude toward handicaps is very high. In general, I may see handicaps somewhere every day, but the chance that I really need to help them, or they really need my assistance, such as crossing the street, loading the wheel chair … is unusual. Surly I don’t mind at all if case is happened. So does the seller in farmer market.

I don’t agree with the stereotypes that cabbies, lawyers and dentists are dishonest. At least, cabbies self are more likely be victims rather than be cheaters. However, Dan’s standpoint is also correct, since Dan looks cabbies with his Ph.D. lens in psychology, whereas I look cabbies as myself, he who drove cab as an occupation for living for 6 years.
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Re: Why Is Dishonesty so Interesting by Dan Aviely

Post Number:#2  Postby TSBU » November 17th, 2016, 2:36 pm

Cosmetics, politics, religion, economy, love... all the concepts atached to that words are for nearly everybody, nearly always, a complete lie from the begining. There is no need to understand very complex things, just "open your eyes".

If you lie, you are hurting others, if you grab something that you don't deserve, you are hurting others, etc. But most of people don't care about hurting anyone, and many people have grown with a psychology that authomatically denies (in some cases, they can't understand cause they are stupid) all the harm they do, when they need that, many of them say to themselves things like "wrong and right are not rational".

I don't see why you see this as something new, it has been like that since the begining, humans lied before having a single word to talk, monkeys lie.

I don't lie.
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Re: Why Is Dishonesty so Interesting by Dan Aviely

Post Number:#3  Postby Whisper Wizard » November 30th, 2016, 4:37 am

There is an interesting book I've been reading lately called Assholes, A Theory by Aaron James I feel somewhat fits into this discussion.
Before I begin, let's just establish some ground work on morality and ethics before I touch on that.
Morality and ethics takes more than one person as they are the bounds of selfish and selfless acts. One can not do good or bad to themselves unless they personify something like a person. For example, if they drink for a whole week and feel terrible, they think they are doing "bad" for their body. It's their rational moral opinion after taking a step out of their awareness and witnessing themselves technically making two people for the scenario in a sense.
So, with that said, what makes dishonesty interesting by that regard? We have to take into account both aspects of good and bad. How we mimic what is in our head for what reason is interesting, as we are either doing it for others or for our own greed. On lies, we tell white lies for the better for others in our minds while we tell harsher lies for personal gain. This is where the book comes in. Aaron James discusses there is a certain irritation in our world that isn't evil or worth punishment but in the grey area of bad where it is a mere annoyance to our lives that has a certain impact on our emotions. This kind of person is existent because they believe in special privileges for themselves. As you spoke of someone parking illegally, this can be considered the special privilege. Of course, no one was immediately effected. However, in what way do they park illegally: taking a handicap space, taking up two spaces, parking in front of someone's house? These are not drastic evils, but inconveniences that we would consider jerks for hindering others.

Which is where the problem comes. If someone is effected in some way, we have an opinion in a moral way. If they aren't, we don't care and shouldn't as no one was harmed or had to deal with it. We live in a domino-effect world, however. Steal from night shift, you are taking away money your job rightfully should earn. Take more than usual, you cut the company from being able to give raises to the other workers. Again, this is the example of an individual putting themselves before others in privilege to better themselves. They cut the line so everyone is put back a step without them being able to do anything besides finding out and calling you out for it.

At the same time, we tell white lies because we think someone can't handle the truth and/or not understand. That, or there is no reason to tell the truth and therefor withhold it. Telling kids sugar-coated things about their pets "disappearing", downplaying how terrible an accident was for someone, and other examples where people use dishonesty for what they think is good and being the exact opposite of that person taking privileges for themselves.

Dishonesty in the end tends to be for the reason of manipulating situations and morality for a given reason. We have the ability, and therefor use it as a tool in many ways. It's enticing because it is creative and not factual. It brings life to fantasy and illusion in the minds of others.
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Re: Why Is Dishonesty so Interesting by Dan Aviely

Post Number:#4  Postby TSBU » December 1st, 2016, 6:43 am

Whisper Wizard wrote:Morality and ethics takes more than one person as they are the bounds of selfish and selfless acts.

For a common use of the word, ethics take more than one person by definition of ethics.
Whisper Wizard wrote:One can not do good or bad to themselves unless they personify something like a person. For example, if they drink for a whole week and feel terrible, they think they are doing "bad" for their body. It's their rational moral opinion after taking a step out of their awareness and witnessing themselves technically making two people for the scenario in a sense.

I don't get it. There is one person, the one drinking, and that's because that wouldn't be an ethic choice (It would be if being drunk or take care of your body, affect other people).

On lies, we tell white lies for the better for others in our minds while we tell harsher lies for personal gain.


I don't agree. People generally tell "white lies" when they don't want to be the ones telling the truth to a person and dealing with the result.
This kind of person is existent because they believe in special privileges for themselves.

Is evident that there are people with more privileges than the rest, and it must be that way. For example, ambulance drivers. Or people acting like them (if a yu are carring a bleeding person to the hospital in your car, asshole is the one who stops you when you park where you "can't"). In out live we give privileges to our friends and relatives, etc, and sometimes (like the hospital example) it's correct to take those privileges without asking. The problem is with people who take privileges that don't belong to them, not the people who has or want more privileges than others in a particular field, in fact, it's nearly genetic to want or think that you deserve more. The problem about dishonesty is puting the rest out of "human beings", out of people who can handle the truth, not taking privileges that they would want to give, but stealing and controlling them without their understanding.

Why do people take what they don't derserve is another question. By the way, every kid in this world can handle the truth about their dead pets, every ill, ugly or stupid person can handle the truth, at least people deserve that, always, truth. If they don't have what they need to deal with reality, they don't have earned they right to live.
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Re: Why Is Dishonesty so Interesting by Dan Aviely

Post Number:#5  Postby Haicoway » December 23rd, 2016, 8:11 am

Debating ethics or reasons for or against, or regarding degrees of, lying could go on indefinitely. So for the sake of brevity, I don’t have a single thought about such ethics or reasons.

First, I ask TSBU if he ever tells any white lies out of convenience, such as not having to talk to a salesman who calls: “Tell him I’m not home,” etcetera. If he says he never lies at any level (and I’ll take him at his word), he will be the first such person other than my wife I have ever met or known about.

My wife and I took Werner Erhard’s est Training in the early ‘80s. A lot of it is about authenticity: keeping one’s word, not lying, etcetera. And there was a major part about making commitments for no reason, otherwise reasons can change and thus so can your resolve.

So for no reason other than we had just been immersed in the idea of authenticity, we made a commitment never to lie again, and that included telling white lies for convenience. It’s been over thirty years and we haven’t lied. On a few occasions when I out of sloppiness or by exaggeration told a lie, I either on the spot, or by going back, cleaned it up.

People say it can be unkind not to lie, as when a person asks you if you think her god-awful dress is nice. You can learn how to tell the truth tactfully.

As I said, we didn’t make the commitment for any reason(s), but reasons abound after the fact, if one wants them. You can’t have extramarital affairs if you don’t lie, and you can’t even eat French Fries with your lunch, if your spouse asks you what you had, like mine does. Therefore I am healthier than I would be if I lied.

DISCLAIMER: I would lie for survival: for example if my life or a jail sentence was at stake. If I were asked by the Taliban what I thought about Islam, I would lie rather than subject myself to being burned alive or some such. But in thirty years, such an exception hasn't come up.
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Re: Why Is Dishonesty so Interesting by Dan Aviely

Post Number:#6  Postby TSBU » December 25th, 2016, 8:25 pm

Haicoway wrote:First, I ask TSBU if he ever tells any white lies out of convenience, such as not having to talk to a salesman who calls: “Tell him I’m not home,” etcetera. If he says he never lies at any level (and I’ll take him at his word), he will be the first such person other than my wife I have ever met or known about.

I lie sometimes, very few. That's not an example of that kind of situation, if a salesman calls, I say "I don't want to talk about it", and thats obviously better, otherwise they'll call again XD. I only lie to people if I don't have any respect to them and saying truth is going to be bad for me for no reason. For example, I lie very time I click in the "Have you read the term and onditions?" in internet pages, and things like that. And, well, in... every situation of my life, I have lot of thoughts that I don't tell, so I guess many people have a wrong idea about me, but... well, that's impossible to change.

So for no reason other than we had just been immersed in the idea of authenticity, we made a commitment never to lie again, and that included telling white lies for convenience. It’s been over thirty years and we haven’t lied. On a few occasions when I out of sloppiness or by exaggeration told a lie, I either on the spot, or by going back, cleaned it up.

If that's true, that's very pretty, and not very common. I'm sorry that I can't see it with my own eyes... but you sound honest XD.

People say it can be unkind not to lie, as when a person asks you if you think her god-awful dress is nice. You can learn how to tell the truth tactfully.

Ehm... yeah, the problem is bigger with other things more than dresses...

As I said, we didn’t make the commitment for any reason(s), but reasons abound after the fact, if one wants them. You can’t have extramarital affairs if you don’t lie, and you can’t even eat French Fries with your lunch, if your spouse asks you what you had, like mine does. Therefore I am healthier than I would be if I lied.

Hahahahaha XD. Well, there are honest partners who have extramarital affairs, of course both want them. Being honest doesn't mean necesarily to put more limits, in fact, I've always thought that it implies less limits, cause trust is then absolute. But it's pretty anyway, I guess you both controll each other in things that you think is good for both.
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Re: Re: Why Is Dishonesty so Interesting by Dan Aviely

Post Number:#7  Postby Haicoway » December 26th, 2016, 8:23 am

Wow, thanks, TSBU. Well, I guess I do lie. I likewise click the “I have read” links, when I haven’t, and hope that I haven’t signed my house away. And there are a ton of things I lie about by omission. I know people think I think differently about many issues than I do. I have many libertine views, for example. I thought that other people did, too, but were just inhibited and couldn’t admit such thoughts to others or even to themselves. But people have tried hard to convince me that I am perverted and that most other people don’t have those thoughts. And, yes, I know that people can have extramarital affairs honestly, as in open marriage. So, thanks to you, I am going to qualify my boasts about telling the truth going forward.

Honesty in general does work well, though. Like your example with the salesman. I likewise take every call and just tell the person, like you do, in about five seconds, that I’m not going to talk about reverse mortgages, or give to the Policeman’s Association, or cancer fund, or what-have-you, rather than have to scroll through voice messages.
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Re: Re: Why Is Dishonesty so Interesting by Dan Aviely

Post Number:#8  Postby LuckyR » January 5th, 2017, 4:57 pm

Haicoway wrote:Wow, thanks, TSBU. Well, I guess I do lie. I likewise click the “I have read” links, when I haven’t, and hope that I haven’t signed my house away. And there are a ton of things I lie about by omission. I know people think I think differently about many issues than I do. I have many libertine views, for example. I thought that other people did, too, but were just inhibited and couldn’t admit such thoughts to others or even to themselves. But people have tried hard to convince me that I am perverted and that most other people don’t have those thoughts. And, yes, I know that people can have extramarital affairs honestly, as in open marriage. So, thanks to you, I am going to qualify my boasts about telling the truth going forward.

Honesty in general does work well, though. Like your example with the salesman. I likewise take every call and just tell the person, like you do, in about five seconds, that I’m not going to talk about reverse mortgages, or give to the Policeman’s Association, or cancer fund, or what-have-you, rather than have to scroll through voice messages.


I look at it a bit differently. There are words and there is communication. The two are not interchangeable. If I tell a passerby who has fallen and fractured their hip that everything is going to be OK and that the ambulance is only 5 minutes away when I know it will take them a half hour is NOT lying by my assessment. Lying to me is false communication not false words. In the broken hip example, my communication is not a medical evaluation and emergency dispatching assessment. If it was i would be lying. I am providing comfort to a person in distress. My communication is accurate and perhaps somewhat effective, my wording helps me accomplish that.
"As usual... it depends."
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Re: Why Is Dishonesty so Interesting by Dan Aviely

Post Number:#9  Postby Numi Who » February 18th, 2017, 6:13 pm

ON CLASSIFICATION

You begin with an important starting point for any deeper thinking (meaning asking questions and searching for answers) - that of classification.

In general, you began by saying, "To me, the terms are different..." Well, great. To argue otherwise would be pointless, because what you are offering (in one sense, for there is another, which I'll cover next) a system of classification from which to view the world - so what it really is is a 'tool'. Now the arguments can begin, by asking, "How useful is that tool?"

ON PERSPECTIVE

Another form of the tool you presented (where 'cheating' and 'dishonesty' are 'different') is in the form of 'perspective' - what I like to call a 'Potentially Useful Perspective'. Now here, as with any perspective, what you are presenting is not a definition of reality as a whole, but only one perspective of it - and, as with any one perspective, it may or may not adequately reflect reality, or an adequate amount of reality - which, curiously, does not mean it will or will not be 'useful'.

MOVING ON

So I am now past the perception tool (in the form of a classification system) that you presented, where 'cheating' and 'dishonest' are 'different'. Let's see how useful your proposed tool is (how you've used it thus far)...

You rambled a bit at the end with the blind person, and it is hard to determine what you are referring to with the Eynav and Tali segment, and your examples were muddled - I could not follow them - it seems that you are trying to differentiate 'cheating' and 'dishonesty' by the monetary degree of the act, and your arguments failed - probably because you only had a foggy notion of what you envisioned. Considering my higher observations above, you can see that all you really did was argue the case for your classification system, which is OK, but it got us nowhere - you did not 'apply' it as a tool - why? Because you were making the same mistake that everyone makes (even current philosophers) - they think they are arguing 'reality' rather than just offering a Potentially Useful Perspective as a tool of perception. A final note on 'tools of perception' - the more we have in our 'Perception Toolbox', the better equipped we are when we 'peer into the unknown' (as I like to put it).

ON HONESTY AND DISHONESTY AS TOOLS

If you examine honesty and dishonesty on a higher level, what you will come to realize is that they are both mere 'tools', and as 'tools', they are neither inherently good or bad - it is how they are used - meaning you cannot judge the 'tool'. For example, if a murder by hammer is committed, you do not condemn the hammer, you condemn the wielder.

NEW THOUGHTS STIMULATED BY YOUR POST

While reading through your arguments, I had some sudden insights that I began to ponder... (though they just evaporated while I was typing... just a minute, maybe they'll return...) ah, yes!

WHEN WILL WE BE DISHONEST?

I was pondering the questions, "When will dishonesty be the 'appropriate' tool to use?" and I began to ponder various conditions where it might be 'appropriate' (and to define 'appropriate' you must dig much deeper into ethics - and to save you time, no one has - before me, and I should post the outline of my new philosophy when I have exhausted myself on replying to the posts of others).

In short, the 'appropriate' circumstance to be dishonest is when you are confronted by an evil that is condoned by society - meaning one you cannot 'fight' as an individual, because the odds would not be in your favor - it would be you against up to many millions. So it appears that we cannot avoid going deeper into ethical philosophy in order to define 'appropriate' and 'evil'.

EVIL - ANIMAL LEVEL VS THE ENLIGHTENED DEFINITION

On the animal level, 'evil' will be seen as anything that opposes your individual needs - you as an animal endeavoring to survive on an individual level.

On the enlightened level, 'evil' is anything that opposes the broader survival of life, or just higher consciousness, which takes priority. The way I like to phrase it is in the form of a goal: "Securing higher consciousness in a harsh and deadly universe", and I've 'classified' that as the "Ultimate Goal of Life", which was derived from the Ultimate Value of Life - higher consciousness (consider the alternative (only lower consciousness) if you have a notion to argue) (higher consciousness has its definitions, such as extended reason and the ability to proactively act based on reason alone (rather than merely reacting to physical stimuli, as in the animal world)).

So now you have the Ultimate Arbitrator in quickly and clearly distinguishing good from evil. Why? Because you have the Ultimate Goal of Life, and because good and evil are goal-driven. (go ahead and test it - consider all the various bases for currently distinguishing good from evil, and you will arrive at various 'goals') (non of which will be the Ultimate, of course - people are not there yet - enter me again).

Now, when you can clearly determine that you are facing true evil (some force opposing the securing of higher consciousness in a harsh and deadly universe), then you have no moral requirement to be honest with it. You are free and justified to use whichever tool will work the best (work toward securing higher consciousness in a harsh and deadly universe) - either honesty or dishonesty, and now you will have a clear reason why, which humanity DOES NOT have yet - their minds being mired in a subjective outlook (philosophers and religions have failed us - as evidenced by continuing envy-seeking, jealousy, hate, xenophobia, war, lack of self-worth, depression, and suicide, to name a few). (enter me again).

CONCLUSION

So 'splitting hairs' as to whether the terms 'cheating' and 'dishonesty' should define different degrees of deceitful acts - and with 'deceitful' now you can see that there are many other words (terms) in play - so limiting your argument and classification system to only two was a near-futile waste of time. The best that you could have accomplished here was a rewrite in a dictionary, and a more precise set of terms, and you can see that everyone else must agree - so the real issue you are addressing here is 'verbal communication' (as opposed to body language), and the reason you did it is questionable - I detect some wish for fame... as in, "Oh, there goes Wklau, the person who more clearly defined the terms 'cheating' and 'dishonesty' (and I'm only have that feeling (or 'sense') because it is the norm today).

THE LEVEL THAT YOUR THINKING IS ON HERE

Now perhaps you can see what 'level' your thinking was on here - a very low level. To gauge it, just ask yourself, "What did it have to do with the survival of higher consciousness in a harsh and deadly universe?" (Answer: Very little to none, in fact, it could be deemed a distraction, and thus classified on the 'evil' side of things).
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Re: Why Is Dishonesty so Interesting by Dan Aviely

Post Number:#10  Postby DustinBarby » April 9th, 2017, 4:15 pm

Hope I am not off topic for I am new to philosophy and this forum but this conversation reminded me of my relationship with my girlfriend. I often tell her white lies about her appearance. I fear 'tis for the best, for now, sadly. :|
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