A Primer On Honesty: Are You A Better Liar Than The Chairman?

Tyler Durden's picture

Human beings basically try to do two things at the same time; on the one hand we want to be able to look in the mirror and feel good about ourselves - ego motivation from honesty, and on the other hand we want to benefit from dishonesty. It would seem at first glance that we could only do one (honesty or dishonesty) but thanks to our 'flexible cognitive psychology' and our ability to 'rationalize our actions', we can in fact do both. Nowhere is this more clearly equivocated than in Bernanke's entirely disingenuous commentary and justification for QEternity last week. He is of course rationalizing his actions (via empirical studies or Woodford's paper), knowing full well the implications, but remaining an 'honest and wonderful' asset to society in his own mind. This outstanding clip from Dan Ariely on The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty will provide much food for thought about whether you are more honest than Bernanke, Draghi, or Juncker and at the same time what motivates their self-effacing dishonesty.


Honest or Dishonest...


Honest AND Dishonest - thru rationalization...


The enture clip is well worth watching as the last 2-3 minutes bring his thoughts very much back in line with the 'emperor's new clothes' dilemma we face and the driver behind mortgage fraud and bank regulation...



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Yen Cross's picture

 And Now everyone understands the " Rationality" behind the " Wizard of the Fed".

  Tin men, tornadoes, and stuft Lions!~

old naughty's picture

Mario: "Ball in your court, Ben".

lineskis's picture

What? It all boils down to incentives and conflict of interests? Who could have thought that...

rfaze's picture

And the moral to the story is---------

"Everyone has their price"

Which is how people who have a price rationalize their actions. 


Yen Cross's picture

A smart man you are! portugal/ has been Spains step child for 2 weeks, when it comes to "ECB", concessions!

Careless Whisper's picture

The Careless Whisper Evening Diversion & Threadjacking

Study: Monsanto (MON 91.16; +2.10)  Genetically Modified Corn Causes Tumors; No Comment From Board Member Bill Gates


PIC OF THE DAY: Lady Gaga Adds 50 LBS.; Concert Last Night In Amsterdam


VIDEO: How To Be A Crook (Warning: It Doesn't End Well)



DeadFred's picture

Warning: Clicking on the Gaga link can be hazardous to your digestion.

PersonalResponsibility's picture

I guess she has enough fiat now.


Even my ass is looking better.  I need a raise.

neidermeyer's picture

Not surprised on the rats tumors ,, doesn't Monsanto's GM corn basically produces the same chemical as "roundup" ? My question is "Is this a valid test if that is the only food given the rats?" after all dosages would be MUCH smaller if they had a varied diet.

Urban Redneck's picture

The search for the Wizard behind the Curtain distracts from the search for the Ghost in the Machine.

Skynet has existed longer than vaccuum tubes.

roadsnbridges's picture

"I made money in the Market today!"

What did I win?

LMAOLORI's picture



A look at the Danish Cartoon that Tyler wouldn't show earlier (and screw you to the down voting Commies who want to take away all your rights)

Pic Of The Day: French Magazine’s Naked Mohammed Cartoons…

akak's picture

Merci pour ca!

"Mahomet: une etoile est nee".  LOL!


One must stand in perverse awe at the outrage that such silly and inconsequential cartoons have inspired.  Every one of those who would condemn the author to death actually deserve death themselves for their brutal, positively insane arrogance and intolerance.

Kitler's picture

That's nothing.



Honduras has unveiled a radical free-market plan to establish three "charter cities" in the violence-racked Central American nation.


The government this week signed an agreement with US developers MKG group to begin building the cities – complete with their own governments, laws, courts, police forces and tax systems – from scratch early next year.

blunderdog's picture

That one frame must be Photoshopped, because it looks like he was circumsized...

Melin's picture

Human beings don't want to benefit from being dishonest; some individual human beings want to benefit from being dishonest.

stop with the collectivist philosophy already



Yen Cross's picture

Melin, I commend you for having, the honesty to make that statemant!  Just remember one thing! Dishonesty isn't a " 1%" issue!

Melin's picture

Assigning percentages is a collectivist game in this context. 

I come from the benevolent universe side of the equation and think most people want to happily live their lives, play nicely with others and be left alone but find themselves having to continuously swat aside those who wish to control them.  Which brings us back to the collectivists.

Anusocracy's picture

The socializing brain looks at others as objects to be manipulated or controlled.

The systemizing brain looks at objects to be manipulated or controlled.

Mentalism and Mechanism - the twin modes of human cognition by Christopher Badcock


"Much the same applies to mentalistic and mechanistic cognition. Each has its appropriate context. Essentially, what I have proposed is that values of an ethical, aesthetic, political, legal or religious kind have a proper place in mentalistic cognition, which is rightly applied in the humanities; is voluntaristic in its mode of explanation; relates peculiarly to psychological subjectivity; is the basis of mental culture; and is particularistic in the sense that mental life is individually- or socially- determined and culturally-relative. Material facts, on the other hand, relate to mechanistic cognition, which is properly applied in technology and the sciences; is deterministic in its mode of explanation; relates peculiarly to physical objectivity; is the basis of material culture; and is universalistic in the sense that scientific and technological truths are equally valid in all cultural contexts.

What I have tried to do here is to show that the fact/value problem is part of this much larger picture and finds new and unexpected insights in the study of autism and paranoia, as well as in normal sex differences in cognition. Essentially, I have argued that human cognition employs two distinct, non-commensurate and in many ways incompatible modes, each appropriate and reliable in its specific domain, but prone to fallacious or unreliable outputs if employed in the other. If I have succeeded in clarifying the differences between what I have termed mentalism and mechanism for want of better terms, I hope that I will have thereby contributed something - however small - to the avoidance of confusion between them in the future.

One virtue of this way of looking at things is that it would discourage religious, political and moral credulity, bigotry and fanaticism of all kinds by cutting mentalism down to size, so to speak. This is because all such reactions are quintessentially mentalistic, and according to this analysis, mentalism is just another human adaptation: the psychological equivalent of something like striding bipedalism, rather than some god-given, specially- created or necessarily-evolved spiritual superiority. (To use one of the few good analogies in another species, you might see mentalism as a means of communication and interaction as peculiar to our species and as quaint in its symbolism as the waggle-dance is to bees.)

Seeing culture as essentially mentalistic would also reduce literary and artistic snobbery and elitism, and would help to counter emotive, phobic and irrational reactions to scientific and technological innovation. Finally, understanding and accepting the mentalistic deficits of mechanistic thinking would also help to limit social exclusion, prejudice and misunderstanding of autistics of all kinds. Indeed, such a change in attitude might confer a new and special esteem on those who, like William Hamilton, have arguably contributed the most of lasting worth to our species as a whole through their work in engineering, technology, and science."

blunderdog's picture

He mentioned experimental data if you could spare the 11 mins for the video.  12 people were full-on thieves and got away with $150.  Over $10 each!

But about 18,000 people thought, "it's no big deal to take just this tiny bit" and ended up walking off with $36,000.

Acet's picture

This is actually from some Behavioural Economists that conducted experiments on people's decision-making. There's a lot about this already in the book "Predictably Irrational" (my review: http://www.informed-people.com/archives/57).

The results of their experiments on cheating were surprising to them (for example: it turns out that even when given a chance to get away with cheating a lot, most people only cheat a bit) so I guess they did further and bigger experiments and the results came on a new book and this video relates to it.

In myself, through introversion, I can glimpse sometimes those same mechanisms in action. I've also seen it in others often enough.

As for the rationalizing of bad deeds thing, you can see it all over the place: nobody is bad in their own mind (too much Cognitive Dissonance), everybody always has "good" reasons for actions that hurt others, usually something around "defending myself" or "protecting my people" or "I had no other option" or "the were going to attack us" or maybe tagging the "enemy" as sub-human.


roadsnbridges's picture

'Chloe - you can't fake that feeling"

Not from what I've seen of her.

(about 2:28 in, in the background)  Chloe rocks.  +1000000 for having the mention.


Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"By the way it's not as if we have a lot of big cheaters, we have a lot of little cheaters."

That includes you and me folks. And we rationalize it all away by saying "Yeah, but I would never do <fill in the blank>."

It's not a matter of IF we lie, cheat and steal, but rather how much and how often.

roadsnbridges's picture

I vote for once and a lot.  But I don't have the opportunity, so I will satisfy my revenge with movie downloads from Usenet.  Bite me.

I hate feeling impotent..

Yen Cross's picture

C/D we just do our best. Video cameras and drones will never do away with "Human Nature". No matter how big your heart is, or how hard you try to divvy the "proverbial pie", " You BUILT and ANSWER for IT"!

     The people that be, have your address, and bank account #'s.   As my accountant says," Just work harder"!

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"C/D we just do our best."

I agree. The first step is awareness. The second step is overcoming the denial of our awareness. Unfortunately we seem to repeat these steps over and over again.

(Honest) progress, not perfection is all we can ask of ourselves.


Careless Whisper's picture

How about a little honesty from whoever posted this garbage? The RSA is the Royal Society of Arts. Headed by Princess Anne. pfffftt. bullshit. -- Go after the shoplifters because the central bankers don't steal that much. WTF

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I agree with your sentiment.

But recognizing someone else's dishonesty doesn't excuse my own. All I can do is work on myself and be totally responsible to myself.

In my opinion that is the true meaning behind personal sovereignty.

Yen Cross's picture

 Let's not "Major in minor shit" ,Gentlemen!

sunaJ's picture

Ariely hits on an important point on how normal people work, and I truly believe most people, including bankers, are normal (Would you, given the opportunity, make tens of millions of dollars if you just had to get people to sign up for loans you knew they could not afford?).  ZHers would do well to remember this when they are tempted to succumb to their own black/white way of thinking.  However, now that the deed has been done, there is another force that is completely bypassed in his theory.  It is the need for disruption and consequence. Big lies are made to cover up smaller lies, which is also how the vortex of dishonesty works.  Since Ariely draws upon the religious practice of confession, there is another religious practice that he ignores, and that is retribution. 

If I remember my Sunday School lessons well enough, there must be a stop to the sin before you can ask forgiveness.  There has been no cessation or asking for forgiveness, and that is the huge difference in this, our real world.  If the bankers and government officials were coming to the people, hats in hand as in the cartoon, then perhaps that would make sense that we learn how to escape the cognitive dissonance that dishonesty reaps.  But we are not living in the world of the cartoon.  The horse has run out of the barn and it is continuing to run.  The 'to hell with it' people are still in charge and they are running at full speed with the wagon of society hitched to them into the abyss.  When I see a repentant banker or government official, or once the public have seized control of the horse, THEN I would be willing to contemplate a fix to the rationalization of dishonesty, but Ariely has skipped the entire step of ENTERING THE CONFESSIONAL.   As Jesus said, as we are keeping with a religious tone here, there must be a separation of the wheat and the tares.  The Lord cometh, most assuredly, and the time of REPENTANCE is here.  So far, I see none, so you reach a point where you either have to shoot the horse, let him destroy society, or gain control (rebellion).  How the horse responds to the confrontation - which hasn't taken place yet - will determine how these toads are dealt with.  My guess is that until the "halt" is achieved, you will have those that will fight you all the way.  Society demands consequences, and Ariely speaks only as how we should build our new system ALONGSIDE THOSE THAT ARE REPENTANT, not how we should cease or mete out consequences of the old. 

Vlad Tepid's picture

As I understand it, this was ripped from a Dan Ariely TED Talk.  But I didn't see any attribution at all, soooooo....

Acet's picture

I think there is also the effect that modern society has empowered the biggest cheaters to get into positions where they can do huge damage.

I was thinking about something related just this morning because of somebody I know that tends put on a fake (cheerful and trying to impress) persona and how it is self-defeating:

- As people we have finely tuned instincts to detect deceit. Even without having noticed it at a rational level, we tend to believe less those who do not feel genuine, we don't give them our trust as much, we don't respect them as much and certainly we don't get inspired by or admire them

- I think that these instincts are the result of milenia of "conflict" between the small percentage of people with sociopatic tendencies and the majority which knows that cooperation with individuals that cooperate back is a net gain but cooperation with individuals that don't cooperate back is a net loss. It is a very, very beneficial trait for an individual to be good at spotting that the person on the other side is unikelly to hold on to their side of the bargain.

The thing is, in modern society, most interactions with "leaders" is not face-to-face: things are too big, there are too many people, so we "know" them through TV, Newspapers, Magazines. The problem is that our instincts don't work nowhere near as well when outside of face-to-face situations where one has some control (for example, to ask your own questions). Think how many "Top CEOs", at one point celebrated in the press as heroes, later ended up severelly damaging the companies they managed.

I think that this has made it easier for the untrustworthy and even sociopatic types to get themselves in those positions.

That's my theory. Comments pls!!!

Shatmadim's picture

Maslow has something to say about motivation.

Arbysauce's picture

So the cartoonist can't lie to other people and 'feel good about himself' ? That's why he's a cartoonist and other people run the show.

WAMO556's picture

What a bunch of cynics. A thief thinks others are thieves and a coward thinks others are cowards. You know the saying that momma used to tell you: "it takes one to know one". Just saying.

roadsnbridges's picture

How would this change if Corzine was wearing orange?

roadsnbridges's picture

Oh look!  A Lib luvs Corzine!

Color me shocked.

DormRoom's picture

I stopped trusting in fiat currencies when the world's reserve currency (USD | QE3), and the  two alternative reserve currencies (EURO & YEN) are being printed with reckless abandoned.  pause, and think about that.  All three major world currencies are being diluted without limit. And it is now policy to do so.

adr's picture

I am honest and it has nothing to do with looking myself in the mirror. I am honest because I believe it is right.

I have had the opportunity to profit from dishonesty many times, but never did. However, those opportunities did show me just how dishonest most people in business are today.

Big business in the USA is about 98% corrupt and dishonest. The things I see that go on make me want to head into the nearest belltower with a rifle.

tickhound's picture

'I always tell the truth,.. even when I lie'

JuliaS's picture

I'm with the gold standard solution under full reserve banking - elimination of the ability to cheat through credit and deficit manipulation. Desire to abuse the system will always be there. Psychological incentives work for some people some of the time and that is simply not good enough when it comes to choosing a monetary unit upon which the entire economy rests.

Giving the cheaters another chance? Well, I'm willing to negotiate a 3 strikes and you're out rule, or something like that. In case of the Fed it's 3 QE's and you're going up the fucking tree with a rope around your neck. How's that for an incentive?

Atomizer's picture



UN peacekeeping forces who receive US taxpayer aid, destabilize new globalization zones to keep Bernank QE3 kicking the can down the road. Wash, rinse and repeat. 

Darfur Genocide Documentary-2007 

Central Planning bullet point is to create global growth in poverty stricken zones. Forecast projections run off the charts for S&P characters borrowing money under the QE3 pretext.

The Battle of Globality 

One day, a light bulb will go off. You’ll have figured out the monetary illusion held since December 23, 1913. Using December 21, 2012 is going to be used as a defensive mechanism to raise fear by remaining in complete control.  


That's the script, no smoke & mirrors. Enjoy

zorba THE GREEK's picture

I have believed for some time now that the vast majority of politicians in government

have the mindset that they are a benefit to society and a force for good, while they are

bought and paid for by every corrupt entity on the face of the earth. Many start out with

high ideals and morals like the VP JB, but after many years in the political system, are

gradually corrupted without ever becoming aware of it. There are those, of course, who

were corrupt from the get-go and only got into politics to reap the benefits. I know that

many younger people on this site think all politicians are crooks and evil, but many 

didn't start out that way. When the system crashes and implodes, and no doubt it will,

hopefully we will be enlightened enough, by the experience, to rebuild a government that

doesn't corrupt good men. The first change would have to be term limits and lobbying

controls. Donations need to be limited to $10.00 per person and $100 per business.

etc...etc...etc... you get the picture, Zorba is no brain trust, but it doesn't take one

to get the big picture.

Elliott Eldrich's picture

Zorba, I have an alternative idea for reforming our political system: Simply make it illegal to spend any more than a bare minimum amount of money on any political campaign, with a strict spending limit set to a truly tiny amount of cash. Instead, a prospective public servant goes out and personally collects a number of signatures backing their candidacy, and once that has been accomplished they get access to their own individual .gov website. They use that website to upload whatever pictures, videos, position papers etc. they wish to make their case, without spending more than a truly minimal amount of money in the process.

Once this is set up, then any citizen who wants to see what any candidate has to say can go to the .gov election website. Debates could be done using video conferencing such as Skype, and saved for later downloading by anyone interested to see what was said. This would eliminate the need for candidates to spend the majority of their time raising campaign funds, freeing them to instead work on things like developing policy positions and proposals for legislation.

Raymond Reason's picture

Catholic confession comes from the tradition of the early church, which was to confess sins publicly, in front of all parishioners...eventually it was changed (out of pity?).  Confessing to a priest is a humiliating experience.  I can only imagine the pain of confessing in front of all of your friends and acquaintances.  Either way, confession is a deterrent, and a wonderful relief.   

zorba THE GREEK's picture

Raymond, Most catholic churches have removed the confessionals, because many priests

were using them to molest young people. The Catholic Church has been covering up abuse

by priests for over a 1000 years. The cover-up has been far more detrimental to society

than the crimes, as it has allowed individual priests to molest hundreds of children for many years.

As a former Catholic educator, I have come to the conclusion, after much investigation and

meditation, that the Catholic Church is corrupt beyond repair and needs to be abandoned.

Raymond Reason's picture

I'm Orthodox and we've been doing confession since the apostle's time. Its done hushed tones with the priest in the corner, in front of all the parishioners.    It is an essential part of being Christian.   But you are Greek, so i'm sure you are familiar with this.  When you say they have done away with the confessional, you mean the booth, i presume?  Not the actual sacrament of confession. 

In a lot of ways i agree with you about the Catholic Church.  I'm not crazy about the Protestants either. 

zorba THE GREEK's picture

Raymond, I am Orthodox also. In the Greek Orthodox Church, one confesses face to face with a priest.

Because Greek Orthodox priests are allowed to marry before they are ordained, they have far fewer problems

with sexual abuse. I married a Roman Catholic and we both were active in the church. We sent our children to

Catholic schools and our only son was molested by priests. The school had a group of molesters in it including

the principal. 25 years later, our son and over 140 others sued the Diocese. He received over a million dollars.

A billion dollars could not compensate for the damage that was done to him mentally and spiritually. He has 

forgiven them, I have not. If it was in my power, I would destroy the the Catholic Church for what they have

done to my son and many others. My faith in God has not been shaken, nor has my wife's. WE just now

realize that God is not in charge of the Catholic Church, Satan is.