Honesty is and isn’t a Conscious Decision


Came across this and a couple of other articles about this study by Joshua Greene and Joseph Paxton from Harvard. They approached honesty from a different direction and put people in MRIs to watch their cognition. Their results are surprising, and then not.

They found some people — honest people — don’t require any extra effort to be honest. They just do it. But people who are less honest — liars and cheats — have to fire up another part of their brain just to be honest. It takes work for these people just to tell the truth because they have to weigh the consequences before answering.

This and other studies has brought the MRI into the lie-detector business.

Joshua Greene seems like a very interesting moral scientist. This presentation by him is interesting. I especially like his use of a camera with both automatic and manual operation as an excellent metaphor for the human brain.

Not all of our decisions are point and click. Some choices, like the choice to lie and be dishonest, is a manual function inside our brains. Take his thoughts/ideas to another level. Think about lying. Think about it right now. Tell a lie to yourself. Say the blue pen on the desk in front of you is red. And then tell yourself another lie and then another.

Is it a little easier each time. Does it actually require more cognition to tell a lie. What it you are really good at it and what if it is a lie you have told yourself and others a hundred or a thousand times?

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About Christopher Metcalf - Author

Christopher Metcalf is the author of Lance Priest / Preacher novels. Lance "Preacher" Priest is a spy, a killer, a human chameleon. He is the CIA's perfect weapon who lives by one simple rule -- there are no rules. Spies and Lies is a blog dedicated to espionage, the art and science of lying and occasional creative writing. www.christophermetcalf.com
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