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The Honest Truth About Dishonesty

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How We Lie to Everyone—Especially
Ourselves.

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 Israeli-American James B. Duke Professor of
Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke
University.
 Founder of The Cen...

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 "Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have
dominion over me.
Redeem me from the oppression of man, that I m...

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The Honest Truth About Dishonesty

  1. 1. How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves.
  2. 2.  Israeli-American James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University.  Founder of The Center for Advanced Hindsight  Co-founder of Kayma, BEworks, Timeful, Genie and Shapa.,  Chief Behavioral Economist of Qapital; Chief Behavioral Officer of Lemonade  Author of Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality, Dollars and Sense, Irrationally Yours, etc.
  3. 3.  "Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me. Redeem me from the oppression of man, that I may keep Your precepts. Make Your face shine upon Your servant, and teach me Your statutes. Rivers of water run down from my eyes, because men do not keep Your law. -Psalm 119: 133-136 God bless."
  4. 4.  Colossians 3:9-10 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.  Luke 16:10-12 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?
  5. 5.  Plus a billion other verses.
  6. 6.  Dan Weiss and the JFK Center for Performing Arts ◦ Why?
  7. 7.  Dan Weiss and the JFK Center for Performing Arts ◦ Why?  Simple Model of Rational Crime (SMORC)  3 Elements ◦ 1. The benefit you stand to gain from the crime/lie/sin ◦ 2. The probability of getting caught. ◦ 3. The expected punishment if caught. COMPARE & DECIDE!  How does it hold up in real life? ◦ Israeli Market (blind, not blind, tomatoes) ◦ Taxi (base rate, mileage rate)
  8. 8.  Study at MIT on cheating. $10 for 10 minutes of your time. ◦ Room with desks, sheet of paper with 20 matrices, find in each matrix 2 numbers that add up to 10. ◦ Same task, but 5 minutes to solve the 20, with $.50 extra per correct answer. (Based on experiment, time varied.) ◦ Started same, ended differently at time’s up
  9. 9.  One version, called “control,” you turn in your paper to the grader at the front and receive your score and money.  In another setup, called “shredder,” grader tells everyone that when they are finished, they need to remember how many correct answers they got, shred the paper at the back of the room, then come up front with the results.  Would you cheat? How much?  What happened?
  10. 10.  In the shredder condition, people claimed to have solved 6 matrices on average. In the control, 4 were solved on average.  Result came from lots of people cheating just a tiny bit.
  11. 11.  What if we increase the money?  Many more tests, with $0.25, $0.50, $1, $2, $5, and $10 per correct answer.  What do you think happened based on the change in $?
  12. 12.  Up with up, then down with up.  Why? Thoughts?  Like taking a pen to taking a stapler and all the pens.
  13. 13.  Shred half worksheet, shred whole, shred whole and self-pay.  What happens based on each condition?
  14. 14.  Cheating remained the same.
  15. 15.  Does fear of standing out matter?  Test takers told that the average person solves 8 out of 20. ◦ (Remember, average person solves only 4.) ◦ Test repeated.  What do you think happened then? How many did most people solve?
  16. 16.  Cheating remained the same. Folks reported solving just 6.  What does this show?  That it is not our own fear of standing out that influences our cheating, but that our sense of our own morality is connected to the amount of cheating we feel comfortable with.  AKA, most people cheat not on what they can get away with in the view of others, but rather what they can get away with while still retaining their self-image as being honest.
  17. 17.  Simple Model of Rational Crime (SMORC)  How does it hold up in real life?  Israeli Market (blind, not blind, tomatoes)  Taxi (base rate, mileage rate)
  18. 18.  Three Men in A Boat (to Say Nothing of the Dog)  I knew a young man once, he was a most conscientious fellow and, when he took to fly-fishing, he determined never to exaggerate his hauls by more than twenty-five per cent. “When I have caught forty fish,” said he, “then I will tell people that I have caught 50, and so on. But I will not lie any more than that, because it is sinful to lie.”
  19. 19.  Jimmy and the pencil.  Test the distance factor. Fridge, 6-pack vs 6 bills. ◦ What happened?  You might print off personal stuff at work, but you wouldn’t take $2 from petty cash to have it printed.  THE MATRIX AGAIN! Approach proctor, say “I finished X matrices, please give me X dollars.” OR “…X tokens.” Tokens then exchanged for cash later.  Token condition had a 200% increase in cheating.
  20. 20.  Jimmy and the pencil.  Test the distance factor. Fridge, 6-pack vs 6 bills. ◦ What happened?  You might print off personal stuff at work, but you wouldn’t take $2 from petty cash to have it printed.  THE MATRIX AGAIN! Approach proctor, say “I finished X matrices, please give me X dollars.” OR “…X tokens.” Tokens then exchanged for cash later.  Token condition had a 200% increase in cheating.
  21. 21.  When we understand how our dishonesty increases, we can better avoid it.
  22. 22.  450 participants.  ½ were told to recall the 10 Commandments, then tempted to cheat with the matrices.  Other ½ were told to recall 10 books they’d read, and then tempted to cheat with the matrices.  What was the difference?  0 vs widespread.  Joshua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but you shall meditate therein day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.”
  23. 23.  Moral reminders help.  (BTW about companies.)
  24. 24.  Moral reminders help. Can you name some? HUGE in Jewish society. (Jim’s lesson about being…) Jewish tzitzit…4 piece, knotted fringe.  (BTW about companies.)  The golfer, Bobby Jones, noticed that his ball moved ever so slightly as he prepared for his shot in the rough. No one saw, no one would ever have known, but he called the stroke on himself and went on to lose the match. When people discovered what he’d done and reporters began to flock to him, Jones famously asked them not to write about the event, saying “You might as well praise me for not robbing banks.”  Man versus himself.  (Fudge factor still: moving ball, club 23%, kick 14%,
  25. 25.  DENTISTS
  26. 26.  Pharma reps  They pay doctors to give lectures to other doctors about the drugs.  Why?
  27. 27.  Because of the doctor who is speaking.  Psychological studies show that we quickly and easily start believing whatever comes out of our own mouths, even when the original reason for expressing the opinion is no longer relevant (in the doctors’ case, that they were paid to say it). This is cognitive dissonance at play; doctors reason that if they are telling others about a drug, it must be good—and so their own beliefs change to correspond to their speech, and they start prescribing accordingly.  Isaiah 44:20 He feeds on washes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is
  28. 28.  Matrix Test. Write essay without x or z. Write essay without a or n. ◦ Standard vs tons.  If you wear down willpower, you have a harder time regulating your desires.  "But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness and prayed." (Luke 5:16)  Speaking of which…
  29. 29.  It has been suggested that decreased nature experience may help to explain the link between urbanization and mental illness.  "One mechanism [toward increased mental illness] might be the impact of nature exposure on rumination, a maladaptive pattern of self-referential thought that is associated with heightened risk for depression and other mental illnesses. Findings of the effects of a relatively brief nature experience suggest that feasible investments in access to natural environments could yield important benefits for the “mental capital” of cities and nations."  ^That's from just one scientific study (thanks Stanford http://www.pnas.org/content/112/28/8567 ) on how being outdoors helps improve your mental health. Their findings show that it changes the way the brain functions at a basic level, changing bloodflow, hormone levels, and altering our perceptions of life and ourselves. Parts of the brain that normally light up when we're having negative thoughts stay quiet when we're in the outdoors. In other words, being outside "benefits human cognitive function and mood."
  30. 30.  Sunglasses. Real Chole, vs knockoff.  Then matrices.  30% vs 71% (slick lie)  Or as Luke 16 notes, it's often true that "One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much."
  31. 31.  2 Timothy 3: 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom[a] you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[b] may be complete, equipped for every good work.
  32. 32.  Adding/matrix task:  People can usually solve 4. If able to cheat, will claim solved 6.  Cheating comes from everyone cheating a little, not one person cheating a lot.  If money involved, people will cheat a little more if it's a little. Will cheat 0 if it's a lot.  Told average person solves 8. (Fear of standing out.) How many solved? Still just 6. Not fear of standing out, but our own sense of
  33. 33.  SMORC-Israeli tests  The Fudge Factor-6 pack vs 6 dollars  Further Way from our Sins  -Give me X tokens vs X dollars...token had 200% more cheating  Understand how dishonesty increases, can avoid it.
  34. 34.  The 10 Commandments at UCLA  450, 1/2 10 command, 1/2 books as kid. 0 cheating with 10.  Blinded by motivations...dentists. Doctors.  Worn down willpower. Write essay without x or z, without a or n.  Real vs fake.  Sunglasses. Then matrix text. 30 vs 71%.
  35. 35.  The dot task and cheating.
  36. 36.  The dot task and cheating.  Same as matrix. Lots of people cheating by just a little.  People wearing fake sunglasses cheated “at full throttle.”  Cheating threshold. Opportunity many, many times.  Amount of cheating increases as experiment goes on.
  37. 37.  Gal 5:16-23 Keep in Step with the Spirit  16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do[e] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 2
  38. 38.  Gal 5:7-9 Keep in Step with the Spirit  7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
  39. 39.  Behave the same as we do on diets.  Once you start violating your own standards…
  40. 40.  Sunglasses again, but this time, they got to evaluate how often people might be…bad. (With many questions thrown in that were irrelevant and not face-valid.)
  41. 41.  Sunglasses again, but this time, they got to evaluate how often people might be…bad. (With many questions thrown in that were irrelevant and not face-valid.)
  42. 42.  Sunglasses again, but this time, they got to evaluate how often people might be…bad. (With many questions thrown in that were irrelevant and not face-valid.)
  43. 43.  Sunglasses again, but this time, they got to evaluate how often people might be…bad. (With many questions thrown in that were irrelevant and not face-valid.)
  44. 44.  What were the results?  If you wore the glasses you thought were fake, you were more likely to believe that A.) people will behave dishonestly, B.) common excuses are lies to hide the truth, and C.) people will be shady to maximize their own gain.  Fakes cause us not only to be more dishonest, but to view others as being less honest, too.
  45. 45.  Kenneth Keiser, COO of Pepsi and Marilee Jones, author of “Less Stress, More Success…” who advocated being yourself in order to be successful, and was MIT’s Dean of Admissions  What do they have in common?  “Fake it til you make it” can become “just a fake” over time.
  46. 46.  Dan Ariely and his own self-deception. Summer of ‘89.  The line at check-in was long for the JFK-LHR flight.  A solution…  …some problems…  And a complaint to Air India!
  47. 47.  Can we believe our own lies?  Fake IQ test.  One where it was graded and blank.  The other had an answer key so that test taker could “check their work afterward.”  People cheated a little a lot.
  48. 48.  After taking the test, asked to predict how well they would do on the next, bigger test, where you will be asked to hand it in, as it takes some time to grade.  People who cheated expected that they would perform BETTER on the second test.  What if you PAID them if their prediction was fairly accurate? Say $20 if they were
  49. 49.  Self-deception beats out money.  We also convince ourselves that we’re retroactively right.  Ask question before giving the answer because, “I knew it all along.”  “The Center for Advanced Hindsight.”
  50. 50.  Lying publicly tends to act as a touchstone. (Dan Rather.)  Math test certificate test.  Follow-up to math score prediction but with a computer and mouse hover.  Side note: Dunning-Kruger
  51. 51.  When a lie is not meant to increase our own self-interest.  Dan Ariely and the Dr.  Your wife and how she looks.
  52. 52.  Richard Feynman  “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.”  Conflict: desire to lie with desire to see ourselves as good.
  53. 53.  Corpus Callosum Patient.  Buying a new car with decision survey.  Found out I needed a…Ford Taurus!  We often don’t chose based on explicit preferences. Instead, we have a gut feeling and go through mental gymnastics to get what we want while feeling that we were most rational.
  54. 54.  Coin Logic.  A lack of creativity and lying.  Choose adjectives.  Results?
  55. 55.  Intelligence vs creativity.  You take an online survey first.  Logic vs intuition.
  56. 56.  Next, a verbal test. Basically figuring out which words are most closely matched with different definitions.  Then you come in to take 3 tests: ◦ The matrix test. ◦ The dot test. (If you cheated every time, you’d get $10 total.) ◦ Multiple choice trivia, such as the capital of Italy and how far a kangaroo can jump. (Each correct answer is 10 cents, and you can
  57. 57.  On the last test, the bubble sheet has erasure marks over the correct answers. You can cheat without getting caught. You knew that the capital of Switzerland was Zurich, right? (Just kidding, it’s Bern!)  Turns out, intelligence isn’t linked to lying, but creativity is.
  58. 58.  On the last test, the bubble sheet has erasure marks over the correct answers. You can cheat without getting caught. You knew that the capital of Switzerland was Zurich, right? (Just kidding, it’s Bern!)  Turns out, intelligence isn’t linked to lying, but creativity is.
  59. 59.  Romans 12:17-19  17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
  60. 60.  Daniel asked coffee shop patrons to participate in a five-minute task in return for $5. When they agreed, he handed them ten sheets of paper covered with random letters and asked them to find as many identical adjacent letters as they could and circle them with a pencil. After they finished, he returned to their table, collected their sheets, handed them a small stack of bills, and told them, “Here is your $5, please count the money, sign the receipt, and leave it on the table. I’ll be back later to collect it.”  But he gave them $9 rather than 5.
  61. 61.  In the “annoyance” condition, Daniel would pretend to answer a phone call while talking to the testers. He’d fake a 12-second conversation.
  62. 62.  In no-annoyance, 45% of people returned the extra money.  When annoyed, only 14% of people returned the extra money.
  63. 63.  The Matrix test, again.  But now let’s throw in Bernie Madoff.  He completes the test in an impossibly short time. He then shreds his test, takes all the money, and leaves.  What happens to cheating?
  64. 64.  Instead of solving the average of 7 (for this test, out of 20), people claimed to solve an average of 15!  1 Cor 15: 32 If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.
  65. 65.  Same test, but David only asks, “Doesn’t this make it possible to cheat? What happens if I cheat like crazy?” The proctor answers lazily, “You can do whatever you want,” and goes back to her book.  David then proceeds to not cheat.  Now we can tell if the cheating was due to David, or due to knowing that they
  66. 66.  Cheating actually went down to LOWER than if David had cheated, and lower even than the “shredder condition.”  When we are made to look dishonesty in the eye, out in the open, we tend to become more honest. The importance of asking hard questions, then, is important.
  67. 67.  Cheating actually went down to LOWER than if David had cheated, and lower even than the “shredder condition.”  When we are made to look dishonesty in the eye, out in the open, we tend to become more honest. The importance of asking hard questions, then, is important.  Note: if the person who is the Madoff is from a rival group, this also increases our honesty.
  68. 68.  The Broken Windows Theory  The Bible often talks about this.  2 Tim 3 [16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.  Joshua 7-9 and Achan’s theft.
  69. 69.  Few aggressive cheaters.  Many small-time cheaters. ◦ Common in business.  Cheaters cause cheating to spread.  Aggressive cheaters cause other people to become aggressive cheaters.
  70. 70.  Which culture cheated most?  The Israelis, the Americans, the Chinese, the Italians, or the British?  Who cheats more, bankers or junior politicians?
  71. 71.  From confessing to Yom Kippur to Sabbath.  Eccl 4: 9 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10 For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
  72. 72.  Do preferences drive our behaviors, or vice versa?  Do we do it because we like it, or do we like it because we are doing it?  Like building something.  Involvement increases investment.  In Sanhedrin 105b, a Jewish rabbinical text, there is deep appreciation of the self- signaling feedback loop: “A person should always engage in Torah and its precepts even if not with sincerity, because insincere behavior leads to sincere behavior.”
  73. 73.  Conducting experiments are in the Bible.  For example, in Judges 6, Gideon tries to answer the question, “How can I know for sure that something’s true— that I’m not just believing what I want to believe?”* Gideon’s experiment was to test whether it was indeed God who spoke to him and wanted him to lead a rebellion, or whether it was just a voice in his head. On the first night Gideon was contemplating this question, he asked God to make the morning dew land only on a piece of wool fleece and not on the ground around it. The next night, he wanted to make sure that this dew-falling pattern of data was not due to chance or particular weather conditions. So he set a control condition, and asked God to do the exact opposite: keep the fleece dry, but surround it with dewy ground. When he saw both patterns of data confirmed, he was satisfied that God was indeed on his side, and the rebellion started.
  74. 74.  Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar created a conflict of interest among the Jews. He took the best and brightest (including Daniel) and brought them to the palace, using incentives to shift their loyalty.  Pharma reps do this. Lobbyists do it. Men who like hot women do it. Gifts change our perceptions and make us want to reciprocate. (Recall that people preferred art from the gallery which was indirectly
  75. 75.  Daniel and 3 of his friends were tops, but refused the things that the king tried to lavish on them.  From this, we learn to try as hard as we can not to accept things which can sway our judgment.  Exodus 23:8 “Take no bribes, for a bribe makes you ignore something that you clearly see. A bribe makes even a
  76. 76.  Is there a thing as too much honesty?  There are many competing values— honesty, preservation of life, peace in the family. Sometimes they may seem incompatible.  In Judaism, sometimes one value was seen as trumping another. This is in opposition to, say, 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant’s view.
  77. 77.  Kant famously put forward the idea that one should never compromise when it comes to honesty. Kant believed that honesty was a mark of rationality, and that rationality was the foundation of human dignity. One critique challenges Kant’s premise with the following scenario: Imagine that somebody wants to murder your friend, and you’ve hidden your friend in your house. The would- be murderer asks you whether your friend is hiding in your house. Even then, Kant says,
  78. 78.  Exo 20:16 says not to bear false witness.  Not just about lying.  Later on, in Deuteronomy 19:15–21, there is a description of a scene in which the judges start to doubt a witness. In such a case, the text instructs, the judges should make a thorough investigation of the witness’s testimony, and if they find the witness to be lying: “then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party. You must purge the evil from among you. The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an
  79. 79.  Why such a strong stance?  Because false testimony can have a devastating effect on innocent people.  But as we learned from the “bad apple” experiment, one outright cheater/liar in public can cause a plague of dishonesty.  It also interferes with good governance.
  80. 80.  Restore your moral energy.  Rules and self-control, too. The more decisions we have to make, the less our self control.  In this case, the decisions are made for you.  Studies performed showed that smokers had less cravings on the Sabbath.
  81. 81.  Good moral rules need to be simple. (AA, 10 C)  They need to be precise.  They have to link back to a larger meaning.  If the rule is set in an arbitrary way (exercise for thirty minutes, three times a week; eat two pieces of fruit and up to two thousand calories a day), the rule itself, and breaking it, is going to be relatively meaningless. But if the rules link us to other people (we are all doing this together), to some other larger purpose (this is what good people do), or to a deep belief (God’s commandments), breaking the rule is more difficult and less likely to happen. In AA, for example, everything is linked to a sense of surrender to a “higher power.”
  82. 82.  There are many stories in the Bible that relate to the questions raised in this book. There is the story of Zacchaeus and how forgiveness gave him the opportunity to start fresh (related to Part 1); the question of the fudge factor and Abraham’s not-so- white lies (Part 2); of how Daniel and his friends resolved their conflict of interest (Part 3); of how the Sabbath helps us keep other commandments (Part 4); of Rahab the prostitute possibly changing the course of her life with one act of goodness that led to other kind acts (Part 5); of self-deception and idolatry (Part 6); of King Solomon’s creativity and social connections leading him to cheat more and more (Part 7 and 8); of Jacob and Rebekah’s collaborative cheating (Part 9); and many, many more.
  83. 83.  Honesty and timelines—the period before, during, and after cheating.  Which is the best time to prevent it?  Our society relies on after-effects.  But remember, we found out that the SMORC isn’t what happens in real life, so rationally considering punitive things doesn’t happen.
  84. 84.  In contrast, the general approach of Christianity is to deal directly with the period before we cheat and the period in which we have the opportunity to cheat. First, Christianity attempts to influence our mind- set before we are tempted, by creating moral education and—let’s not forget—guilt. The basic understanding is that if we want to curb dishonesty, we need to think about education and calibrating the moral compass, rather than threatening punishment after the fact
  85. 85.  Second, Christianity attempts to influence our mind-sets in the moment of temptation by incorporating different moral reminders into our environment. Here, the basic idea is that once we have a moral compass, it’s a good idea to keep it in good working order, with appropriate adjustments in real time, if we expect it to operate at full capacity.

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