Friday, March 21, 2008

Book Review: The Post-Truth Era, by Ralph Keyes

A Pants-on-Fire Epidemic!

This book makes a great case for the fact that lying is getting easier, and people are engaging in it more often, primarily because of mobility and technology, and is tearing away at the fabric of society. To function well, a society needs to have a bias for truth, so that we are fairly confident that most of the time people and institutions are telling us the truth. The alternative, a bias for untruth, leads to mistrust and the inability to function smoothly, and results in both a personal cost to our sense of self and an economic cost in terms of a truth tax that is imposed by protracted negotiations, lawyers, etc.

Keyes covers the many aspects of lying, including how it eventually affects the liar. He also provides a lot of interesting examples of lying in the business world, in literature, in politics and in Hollywood -there are some real eye openers here - as well as an engaging exposition on those who defend lying and why. Keyes concludes convincingly with the need to have a bias for truth, although a reasonable one at that.

Keyes' writing is tight and he skillfully weaves supporting quotes from various sources. The book is a quick read and one that helps you understand the current condition of truthtelling, and its prognosis.

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