My My, Why Do We Lie?

By Kristen Johnson

The (Dis)Honesty Project is a super documentary about how we lie. It will make viewers a little uncomfortable, because absolutely everybody lies – no matter what we may tell ourselves.

What is most interesting about this film is the experiments Dan Ariely, a professor and researcher at Duke University, performed over many years with his team of researchers. The results were pretty shocking – people lie to earn money, to feel good about themselves, and most of all, because they can. It’s a very thoughtful, and thought-provoking, look into the world of deception.

In addition to Professor Ariely’s experiments, the film includes a number of interviews of well-known cheaters/liars – people convicted of a number of high-profile scandals. What I found the most interesting about every single one of these interviews was that all of them started out with just a “little” lie. Nobody set out intentionally to defraud people, cheat on professional sports by betting or doping, bilk people out of money, etc. It all seemed to start with a little lie here and there, followed by a little justification here and there, and the next thing they all knew – it had completely spiraled out of control. It’s interesting how little lies become big lies.

I think that this film should be family-viewing, because I think that children need to be aware of the consequences of seemingly “innocent” lies and where those lies can lead them. I also think it’s important for families to discuss the film – there is a “discussion” document for families on the film’s website which I think is a great idea. In addition, I believe the film would be a very good resource for high school and college students. It’s really quite good and the interviews of convicted felons are particularly hard-hitting.

It’s not easy to think about one’s own dishonesty, but it is certainly important. I am grateful to Professor Ariely for working so diligently on his research and for presenting it to the public. It’s an important reminder about our own behaviors.

Proverbs 12:22 (NRSV): Lying lips are an abomination to the Lordbut those who act faithfully are his delight.

Serve all with love.

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