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"Lying" by Sam Harris, Four Elephants Press, 105 pages

“Does this dress make me look fat?” asked the wife as she prepared to attend her husband’s office party.

“Yes, it certainly does,” her husband answered.

Sam Harris advocates telling the truth in all cases. He makes a good case. But telling the truth is not easy. We all lie.

The book explores deception in human behavior. Lying is part of deception, but not all deception is lying. Women putting on cosmetics is deception but not lying.

There are two types of lying: “bad things we do (acts of commission) and good things we fail to do (acts of omission).” The first is simply taking $100 out of the cash register and the second is not returning the $100 check erroneously received from the insurance company.

Also discussed is the size of lies we tell and the consequences. There are white lies, “I love lima beans,” and big lies, “there are weapons of mass destruction.” What would happen if the truth were told … always. “I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy,” states musician Bob Marley.

There is some allowance made for the circumstances that cause lying. For example: The Nazis are at your door and you are hiding Anne Frank in your attic. Harris explains how to handle it, not lie and still save Anna.

One interesting viewpoint in the book looks at the good things that would have happened to us if we had not lied in the past. Several real-life situations are explored.

Where are the truly truthful people? Harris tries to establish that we all can be truthful, but we would have to rebuild society.

One of the real values of reading this book is that it causes the reader to reflect on our own life and lies. Do I always tell the truth when writing a review?

This book is a quick read, but it is long on contemplating life.

Jim Danielson lied to his son about Santa.


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