Why We Lie (2004)

During our March 2009 meeting we discussed the following book selected by Mohsen Mirghanbari:

David Livingstone Smith, Why We Lie: The Evolutionary Roots of Deception and the Unconscious Mind, St Martin’s Press, 2004.


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About Ron Boothe

I am a retired professor of psychology living in Tacoma Washington USA.
Aside | This entry was posted in 2009 Selections, Why We Lie. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Why We Lie (2004)

  1. Mohsen Mirghanbari says:

    NOTE: This comment posted for Mohsen by Ron using cut and paste from an email message

    We are who we are, and to a large extent we stay that way, though, certain traits stay stable into old age, perhaps the winds of time-wear away characteristic attributes of our lifetime.
    “WHY WE LIE” OR “DO WE LIE”?
    Is there a difference between Lying & Deceit?, Who Lies & Who doesn’t Lie, Is the Brain the culprit of Lying & Deceit? Is lying Genetic or Nature & Nurture.
    To the “Retired Mens Book Club” members & friends, Thank you for reading & sharing your views of “Why We Lie”…..I would like to share the following phrases as my life guidance to abide by.
    1) THE UTMOST SIN,……………………….FEAR
    2) THE UTMOST JOY,………………………WORK
    3) THE UTMOST CRIME,………………….NO HOPE
    4) THE UTMOST BRAVERY,……………….PATIENCE
    5)THE UTMOST TEACHER,……………….EXPERIENCE
    6) THE UTMOST WISH,……………………DEATH
    7) THE UTMOST PRIDE,…………………..ASSURANCE
    \8) THE UTMOST PRIZE,…………………GOOD CHILDREN
    9) THE UTMOST GIFT,……………………FORGIVENESS
    10) THE UTMOST INVESTMENT,………TRUST
    THAT- THAT BRINGS SATISFACTION & JUSTICE,..PATIENCE
    THAT- THAT GIVES CALMNESS TO ONE,…………..WORK
    THAT- THAT GETS BETTER WITH AGE,…………….FRIENDSHIP
    THAT- THAT IS BETTER THAT EDUCATION,………KNOWLEDGE
    THAT- THAT BRINGS SHAME TO ONE,…………….WORRY
    THAT- THAT KILLS BEFORE DEATH,………………..NO HOPE
    WHEN ONE DOES NOT SHOW APPRECIATION,….LIFE
    WHEN TOO LITTLE IS TOO MUCH,……………………ENEMY
    WHEN EVEN TOO MUCH IS NOT ENOUGH,…FAITH & OBEDIENCE
    Whether, we are:
    Analytical Thinker (logical, rational, objective, factual, or skeptical),
    Structuaral Thinker, (practical, cautious, predictable or methodical),
    Social Thinker, (sympathetic, connected, socialy aware or intuitive),
    Conceptual Thinker, (imaginitive, creative, innovative or visionary).
    We tell deliberate Lies while genuinely believing in them, to ignor any fact that has become inconvenient, and when it becomes necessary again. We attribute through Expressiveness, Assertiveness & Flexibility mastering Deceit & Lie.

  2. Ron Boothe says:

    I really liked this book. As a psychologist, it has been fascinating to watch the recent resurgence of interest in Freud’s ideas. During the bulk of the 20th Century, Freud’s ideas were mostly ignored by academic psychologists, at least by those of us approaching psychology as a science. This was for two reasons.

    First, behaviorism, as first espoused by Watson and later championed by Skinner became the dominant theoretical perspective in academic psychology. Behaviorism attempted to turn psychology into an objective science of behavior, and worked hard to purge psychology of theories such as Freud’s that were based on subjective (even worse, unconscious) forces operating within the psyche.

    Second, by the time the influence of behaviorism began to wane in the latter decades of the 20th Century, Freud’s ideas had been largely “hijacked” by academics in the humanities. Academics in departments such as “French literature”, and “Philosophy”, and “Cultural Studies”, who know less about the scientific discipline of psychology than my grandmother, were suddenly spouting Freud’s ideas, along with those of Marx, as part of an anti-science, post-modernist, deconstructionist agenda. Academic psychologists such as myself who identify as scientists did not want to associate ourselves with that style of thinking, so we basically ignored Freud.

    Besides, we were busy with trying to keep up with the exciting new theoretical approaches that propelled the science of psychology into the 21st Century, Evolutionary Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience. Both of these emerging approaches were heavily influenced by the ideas of a contemporary of Freud, Darwin. Now that we are well into the new Century, some are stepping back to ask if we, perhaps, threw out the baby with the bathwater when we neglected Freud. A careful reading of Freud reveals that he was in fact much influenced by the ideas of Darwin. In fact, some are now suggesting/arguing that many of Freud’s original ideas are compatible (at a deep level even if not when read superficially) with modern perspectives of evolutionary psychology. David Livingston Smith, in his book “Why We Lie: The Evolutionary Roots of Deception and the Unconscious Mind” is one such advocate. It is hard to predict how this attempt at integrating Freud back into the fold of academic psychology will work over the long run. But there is no doubt that Smith has whetted my appetite for at least chewing on these ideas for a while.
    Ron

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