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Dyed All Hues

Thinker and Experimenter,

TEDCRED 30+

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If someone you knew was a pathological truth-teller; how would you react to this person?

Most of you have probably hear the term "pathological liar", meaning they lie all the time, from dusk til dawn. We all lie though, but too much lies can ruin any relationship. If there was no lies, but pure truth 24/7 360days a year for the rest of that persons' life, how would you react to this person?

Some have argued with me that we need lies to live for example, 'your best friends mother on her death bed asks you where her son is, and you couldn't tell her that her son has just died on an air plane that blew up just before landing, so you lie and tell her that his flight was cancelled and he says he loves you very much and you fill in the blanks with fond memories....now let's change that situation a bit....

Your best friend mother on her death bed asks for her son, but you know he just died on that exploding plane, so you give her the low down and tell her that his flight didn't make it here because his plane blew up, though he really loves you and he told me this before we got off the phone.

Two scenarios, both end the same, she passes away, but the details may be different depending on the individual.

A pathological truth-teller doesn't blurt things out though, like if they see something/someone they hate, they won't go I hate that thing over there and then proceed to tell the thing or person they hate it/them, though if they were asked to give an opinion they would tell the truth.

If you asked this person a question, they would answer you extremely truthfully and at times it might even seem offensive. For instance, you ask them "do I look good in this" and the pathological truth-teller says "it looks hideous on you, but you already tried all the clothes in this store and they all don't look good on you, so let's go to a store with a different style?".

How would you react to this person?

Update: This is a scenario of a world with pathological truth tellers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-H2dNfx-Uw

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Closing Statement from Dyed All Hues

All I could think of is "thank you for participating and hope the remnance of this discussion will shed light upon your life", though this topic is far from reaching any type of consensus; we can all strive to respect one another and live earnestly and honestly.

May you take positive leaps and bounds in your life.

  • Jul 2 2012: This isn't really a hypothetical situation. Ask any 5 year old a question, and you will get an honest answer.Be careful what you ask. You may not be ready to hear the truth.
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      Jul 2 2012: Haha, they say that children are imprints of their environment, without any filters for their information. Interesting concept though, so we were all pathological truth tellers in one points of our lives, but according to Pamela Meyer:How to spot a liar, says that we were all out-right liars at one points in our lives also, so truth and lies for a child might be similar in some ways? I'm just trying make sense of something, but not sure where I'm going....just a random thought.
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        Jul 3 2012: Hey Derek, With all due respect to Pamela, and even Dan Ariely in his new book, I am not convinced that we were all liars at one point in time. Some of your theories resonate with me. Harsh parenting can create 'truth tellers' just as it can create 'patholgical liars' - I think it depends on personality type and resiliancy- the less resiliant might choose truth when they are broken as a form of keeping clairty in their world view. This early breaking of the heart though, might be ultimately redeemed as a preferred life style which enables bonding, self reflection and even self-sacrifice.
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        Jul 3 2012: Myfanwy- I hope you find this as you had no reply button and thus no notification that I was responding to your question. And it is a good question. Rememnber that even though i have an MA in Social Personality Psych - these are just my own ideas off the top of my head.
        If a person is committed to a life of truth telling, self-sacrifice -in geater and lessor ways is part of it. IN order to tell the truth all the time one must be prepared to face the music in life, or the firing squad in corporations or be prepared for the poop to hit the fan. Corporations in my opinion are allergic to truth at the customer centric level. At the top they espouse it but like harsh parents, they often make lying far more rewarded and punish truth that they do not enjoy. If they blew it on a major account or city by denying the customer what they need by refusing to ship it into the country when the accounnt uses tons of a product and few others do, this is a defensible corporate position but they have to then realize that this loss of account was by their own choice and own up; Telling or reminding them of the truth is then quite unpopular. If you tell your friend about her huzbands affair you have to be prepared for the fall out (I sure would have appreciated a heads up and not shot the mesager but many others do shoot the messanger..
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      Jul 4 2012: Myfanwy, Self sacrifice for famiily members is de rigeur and most people of my aquaintance can managei to do it= I think of it as simply suirrendering ones self interest to a higher goodor higher level of self interest.
      Your point in your final paragraph is excellent. I call being successful at that being our 'best selves". If not for our loved ones. for whom would we do it? I love how charitable your final anlysis is. Yes, people get swamped and try to 'cope" which produces even more rubbish in the world. I like the way you framed that - it expands my way of thinkning. Thanks for that. Improper use of power is a perfect example, to my mind and at one time or other most people have done so..
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      Jul 6 2012: Great dialogue.
      We all self sacrifice in one way or another. Big or small, it happens.
      If one looks in the mirror everyday and really looks, it is hard not to want to be the best that you can be regardless of who is around.
  • Jun 29 2012: In today's world, particularly western society (but it is spreading in other kinds of cultures if it wasn't there already),
    I believe very strongly that too many people worship lies. First they were taught untruths, so that hearing the truth upsets them. If one were raised with the truth, my feeling or sense of it is that they would welcome it, deal with it and be grateful for it.

    And it is very subtle. So much so that most cannot recognize it and resist seeing it. I have a friend who is owed a lot of money for work they did but the person who owes them has suddenly told them their work is no good and so, viola, a reason not to pay them. What they have done is worked out a deal to get only one sixth of what they are owed, by doing even more work, which adds up to working for nothing. When I told them what to do to get their money, they resisted, saying that if they did that, they wouldn't get any money and that would be the truth. But not getting paid is the lie and it is the lie they are settling for and accepting as the truth, when it is anything but.

    As things continue the way they are going, the only power and weapon the average citizen will have is the truth and it is very powerful but it has to be awakened, put into action and trusted. It is being buried too quickly and as one might imagine, you cannot cover up the truth with truths, you can only cover it up with lies.
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      Jun 29 2012: Hi again Random,

      It is very true! People accept non-truths/dishonesty as their reality and it becomes their own personal lie.

      I have seen too many times when people lie to themselves that they don't deserve better or that they don't have a better choice, and we all know there are usually more than one choice in any given situation. Some choices are obscure and some choices are the choices less taken, but are still these choices are there for a reason.

      I wonder if there is such a term as a pathological self-liar?
  • Jun 29 2012: Maybe the ones that have lost trust in others had abusive parents and the child had to lie to protect itself from mom and dad. When a child cannot trust their caregivers that pretty much sets up a child to be mistrustful.

    And you are right that if said person has a personal history of lying they are more likely to suspect the same in other people. Yes, it would take some special effort for that person to begin healing. A good therapist is invaluable and can point out the errors in a persons critical thinking skills. A highly skilled therapist. I do find though that most people only tell the truth when it does not hurt them. If lying is expedient, most (not all) people will indulge. That is why any business deal must be on paper.

    Hey, oddly enough I listened to a podcast on lying on How Stuff Works. Listen if you are interested.
    http://www.howstuffworks.com/podcasts/stuff-you-should-know.rss
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      Jun 29 2012: This is an interesting perspective and something i have been wondering about because I recently had to terminate a relationship which was important to me because the lies about unimportant stuff distorted my world.
      • Jun 29 2012: Good thing you terminated the relationship Debra. There are some people that just lie. Pathological liars. I have found that people that lie just for the heck of it are not to be trusted. Most of these people are quite gregarious - entertaining folks. Many of them will use you anyway they can and it will be a one way street. They will also steal from you if they get the chance. They talk about what they are going to do for you, but they never quite get around to it. They will even tell lies about you to other people if it serves their purpose. Next to murder perhaps pathological lying comes next on the list of misdeeds.

        Your insight about "unimportant stuff distorted my world" was very telling. Pathological liars are known for creating their own reality.
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          Jun 29 2012: Thanks for your helpfulness,Sandra.
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          Jun 30 2012: In addition to "pathological liars...create their own reality", they probably have no room for others in their reality but themselves. =/
  • Jun 29 2012: Being truthful and living a life of truth is not the easy way. Many prefer the easy way which could in a way mean being tactful or not saying the truth.

    In most cases the truth that is twisted or presented in tactful manner as they call is definitely not truth.
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      Jun 29 2012: I cannot agree that truth cannot be presented tactfully. I can say let's go brush our teeth, rather than your breath stinks, can't I?
      • Jun 30 2012: "let's go brush our teeth..." May smooth-over someone's fragile ego -- if they don't see the subtle switch. But if they do, then they know that you merely think them shallow. Now it may've been a long day and maybe there's a reason for stinky breath; maybe you could crinkle-up your nose, then ask them if your breath stinks too.

        "...your breath stinks," is fine if they know you really do care for them - and they have enough integrity to appreciate that care.
    • Steve C

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      Jun 30 2012: I think it's been said that the surest way to ruin the truth is to stretch it a little.
      Many do prefer the easy way, it seems. But perhaps they have their own hard choices.

      Truth that is "tactful" does not really seem like the truth - nor even the most important thing that could be said in a situation - "Your goldfish is dead," is useful knowledge; "I feel bad for you," may be more important.
      I think I'd appreciate a truth-teller. It only becomes pathological when they believe that the facts are more important than me.
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        Jun 30 2012: Ah! That does put a new spin to the topic, "It only becomes pathological when they believe that the facts are more important than me", I was glad to read this.
        • Jul 4 2012: (Thanks for the +1, hope this helps you)
          I'll restate "...are more important than me," means "...pathological when... facts are more important than an equality of openheartedness." I think.

          Perhaps the pathological truth-teller is the "heads" to the "tails" of a pathological liar. Both may give a lot, but withhold what really matters.
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    Jun 26 2012: Doesn't it just come down to the way the truth is told? What may seem kind to one person might be a slap in the face for another. Just because we're being considerate of another person's stance doesn't mean we have ot lie. I just think it strange that when we hear "the truth" we think it has to be bold, harsh and uncaring.
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      Jun 26 2012: Aha! That is something new to think about. Why do we associate truths with bold, harsh and uncaring things or are truths or "honesty" just that bold, harsh and uncaring?

      I think we associate truths with bold, harsh and uncaring things is because it is often times something we don't want to hear about. Like when the reality is that someone is born disfigured, people usually try to be kind and tell the child they are special and beautiful, but the truth would be that the child looks abnormal from the common person. I have also considered that when we see something "abnormal", people think fix the abnormality by surgery and such....what if these abnormalities are evolutionary traits for us to survive, but they look abnormal or disfigured to us...that is another topic I suppose...

      I think that brings in another point I have yet to mention. A pathological truth teller is placed in a setting of social situations, but in professional situations, I believe, the truth teller would excel in life, though frowned upon in social situations; hence, awkwardness from this pathological individual being in these social situations.
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        Jun 26 2012: Could this, though, not just be the case of children not being taught to speak the truth in respect to others, and having enforced in them the importance of tone? I for one think tone is the absolute fundamental in communication rather than the literal word.

        I find that Western culture does not enough take into account how words are spoken. For example, I detest how court-rooms read out words in a neutral tone and totally take away from the vocal emphasis of what was said. A man could say sarcastically to his wife "I'm divorcing you", yet be read out in court as if he said seriously to her "I'm divorcing you." I find we've become very clinical in how we speak. We've substituted the grace of Oscar Wilde for the bluntness of Judge Judy.

        I think in the case of social awkwardness that comes down to the others, not the pathological truth-teller. So then "should" the pathological truth teller even be concerned for other people's actions?
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      Jun 26 2012: I don't think anyone is assuming that "the truth" is bold, harsh, and uncaring! The way the question was posed, asking how we would feel about a pathological truth teller, in is natural to think of the cases in which a problem might arise rather than the vast majority of cases that raise no problem.

      I would guess that most people tell the truth almost all the time and depart from that standard only with little white lies when someone's feelings might be hurt.

      I would further guess that most of the lack of truthfulness in daily life is in the technically-true-but-misleading category rather than the lying category. A case that comes to mind is releasing an unpopular decision and saying it was run by a specific person everyone trusts. The claim suggests but doesn't explicitly say that that trusted person lent his support to the position. The whole truth- perhaps not expedient- would have been to say it was run by the person but he opposed it.

      It's hard to feel proud of that kind of truth telling if that is ones practice.
  • Jun 25 2012: In my opinion, always saying what your believe is true in each moment is a childish and oversimplified view of honesty.

    Quite often the full truth is just too much to communicate. Our interactions are limited by time and the primary concern is always going to be objective based.

    Besides, even the classic example is flawed because we communicate on multiple levels.

    When someone asks "do I look good in this?" they are likely to take the answer to be a comment on their physical appearance rather than their appearance specifically in the outfit they are wearing.

    If you know from experience that they are going to take it as a comment on them rather than the outfit then saying that it looks good when the outfit specifically looks bad can be a truthful answer.

    You could try to be specific and say well you look great but the outfit looks terrible but some people are stubborn and determined to take things in a specific way, the other party may still take offense and assume that you're insulting them or their fashion sense.

    The problem with telling the truth is unintended implications. When you encounter someone that is determined to take negative implications, you can spend hours backpedaling and getting nowhere.

    This may sound like I'm talking about someone that is neurotically sensitive about their appearance but you can encounter the same sort of determined combative attitude with sensitive social issues like genderism or racism.

    The bottom line is that truth takes a back seat to practicality for a good reason. There are people that do not want or cannot handle being told the truth and fighting against that is just bashing your head against a wall for no reason.
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    Jun 25 2012: Derek, Tough question. Answers from fall in love to mnoral and ethical issues. Is there one among us without sin? Linda Taylor appears to be such a person but calls it bending the truth. Bending, gray, white lies, etc ... all say the same thing. Not the whole truth such as the pathological truth teller of your question who does not or cannot see gray.

    By defination pathological indicate a disease or disorder is present. By defination this person would be submitted for treatment in the same manner as the pathological lier. Both being equally offensive to society.

    I respect truth and honesty but fail to be totally (100%) truthful and honest. I would enjoy this person for a while and then as would most of us tire of the company.

    All the best. Bob.
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      Jun 25 2012: Whew, at least I am not pathological. Do you mind telling my kids that?

      I really think it is how you classify lying. If you think lying is telling an untruth that is one thing. But if you think lying includes partial truth and refusing to answer, then it is a broader definition. I do not speak untruth. Not out of some philosophical or religious lofty ideals. Really, it just simplifies relationships.

      I think the reason I only consider lying as speaking untruth is because I speak more than one language. Lying is not generalized like that in all languages.
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    Jul 21 2012: IN MY VIEW:
    Too much of anything is bad. I would also feel sorry for a such a person as the one seems to be trapped in a prison created by nature itself
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    Jul 6 2012: Great Question.
    It would seem a "truth blurter" would be one of those people that in whatever situation they say exactly whatever is on their mind regardless of the outcome. If one was listening to this person, would 100% of what they were "blurting" out be truth? Truth and opinions are two different things.

    "Do I look good in this" is subjective. You could look amazing in something and ask the pathological truth teller and because they have to pee real bad or have something in their contact, they say whatever you want to hear. For that moment, that is their truth.

    Sitting in counseling with someone that you trust and you might have been working on an issue that until this moment has alluded you. Today is the day that you hear the truth. Today is the day you put all the puzzle pieces together and are able to hear it.

    Kids/babies are the only pathological truth tellers, that is until someone has told them to see the world differently. When a baby cries when it is being held by a stranger and stops crying when held by its mother, that is truth. We lose that ability and are told its rude.

    Religions have their truths. They may not be the truths of everyone.
    Truth of Evolution vs Creationism.

    As we get older our truths become more opinions rather than truth.
  • Jul 4 2012: This would be a great person to be around because if I want his honest opinion he'll give it,
    if i don't want his opinion I won't ask him and i'll believe what I want.
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      Jul 6 2012: Truth and opinion, same thing?
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        Jul 13 2012: I don't think truth and opinion are the same thing sarah, but after this whole discussion I have come to my own conclusion that truth is something perceivable or "just is" like the truth of the matter is I had a hair cut, but others honest opinions differ from person to person.

        Hope that made sense sarah. =)
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    Jul 4 2012: Hi Debra!

    I wasn't sure where to respond to your comment, so I will start this comment for your comments already made in the conversation, recently that is. =P

    I found that many others in this conversation have used the term "truth" loosely as I did and I believe I should replace my use of truth with honest/y/ies, though truth seems to fall in place for my topic somehow, so I am not certain that I found a consensus in my judgement for what is "truth" and a "pathological truth teller". May I have some assisstance from you to bring my mind to a consensus?

    Truth is, as James says, is something that exists; a pathological truth teller is more of a constantly honest person?

    I am discovering new things about me as this conversation unfolds, so please bare with me on this journey into my mind. =P
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      Jul 4 2012: HI Back to you! Good morning!
      I too am being wonderfully challenged to think and re-examine my thoughts. I love some of your theoretical work and would add that I had such strict parents that a directive to tell the truth meant -tell everything you know including the colour of your underwear. It took me sometime to realize that my thoughts belong to me and that I choose when and where to share them.
      Part of what you seem to be discussing is perseveration which is common in prefrontal head injury.In Some cases people simply speak before their brain is in gear and comment relentlessly on whatever they observe. Quiet is an anathma to these fearful people.
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    Jul 1 2012: I think the point here is not to find whether the truth is universal or different among the people but to talk about how we react to the people who tells the truth(opposite word to lie in this context) even though the situation is not appropriate for the truth. In my case, If I meet the person who pathologically lie without caring other people's feeling or being aware of the atmosphere in the situation where the person belong, I will think about what makes him or her behave that way. Maybe it might be due to the dysfunction in some part of the brain if the word "pathological" is concerned, but repeating in telling the truth does not neccessarily mean it is "pathological". I am not sure if the question here concens about only the pathological truth teller, but if not, I think I will try to understand that person as much as I can rather than reacting passively to what he or she behaved. In other words, I will focus on his or her bahavior rather than focusing on mine.
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      Jul 1 2012: That is the ultimate form of empathy. I think we could learn a lot and help many people if we try understand the other persons behaviours and personality. Thank you for your thoughts JaeHun! =)
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      Jul 3 2012: JaeHun, Thank you for this comment. I agree. Did you know that damage to the front of your head ([pefrontal lobes where thought and emotion are integrated) might be involved with lying?
  • Jun 30 2012: Probably nothing, but if they got really annoying or I found their truth telling to be hurtful, I'd lay down a paradox on them or something and watch their head explode.
  • Jun 30 2012: Unless that person was a mind reader, just laugh
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    Jun 30 2012: If I was to meet someone that always tell the truth I think I would buy them lunch and study them. At least ask them a lot of questions. As I move about business and social circles I want to be as truthful as possible, But the holdup is not the concept of dishonesty in lying. It is the tactfulness in truth. Truth can be brazen but it can also be tactful. I think a lot of us need to learn the skill of being tactful. I will often use the example of Will Smith. He has a jovial easy going attitude that comes across as truth telling but with a caring attitude. Think of him in MIB when he has to comment on the car or something.... its funny, appears to be his honest feelings, but said in a way that fits his personality and comes across more tactful than brazenly stating the car is terrible. So if my wife asks "how does this look?" Do I answer with brutal and mean honesty "That looks like ugly" or do we ( I mean me) learn to be truthful but tactful in a way that blends well with our personality ...."hmm. I do not think it suits you. It seems to be designed for a different type of woman"

    So If i met that truthful person..... I would like to ask them how they do socially, in business, with loved one or children. What methods do they use to tell the truth and incorporate tact. How do they demur a question. or do they consider that in itself lying. etc
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      Jun 30 2012: I like your comment Leo,

      But the only problem (which is normally reoccurring) is that everyone usually assumes that the scenario in the clothes store is a girl, but I challenge the idea to say it is a guy. =P

      I often ask other people, usually, if what I wear looks decent. Just my honesty. =)
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        Jul 1 2012: I can live with that. I usually do the same when I ask my wife about what I am wearing.
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      Jul 3 2012: If you want your wife to be putty in your hands - a man learns quickly to tell her what he likes on her. It is pretty simple in most cases. IF asked tell her- she will do cartwheels to look good to you. Last weekend i had a date and it was an important occasion for him. I wanted to look appropriate so I laid out four outfits and asked him to choose his preference and he put together a fifth that turned out to be perfect (who knew he would have such a sense of it or care enough to do so?) I felt beautiful all night, and the outfit was perfect for the occassion - fairly reserved, quote feminine and comfy.
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      Jun 30 2012: Ah, thank you for that insight Ed.

      Could you elaborate a bit more about attained being, egoic mind, and Eckhard Tolle?

      Also, someone in this conversation that said something about truth being relative to the individual and the better term may be honesty. Possibly that indvidual tells nothing but their honest answer, as far as their knowledge can stretch?
  • Jun 30 2012: I think people tend to calibrate their reactions to individuals, as they get to know them.

    For example: A blunt statement will be perceived differently depending on whether its delivered by a typically tactful person, or a typically blunt person.

    For me, the topic question doesn't seem hypothetical. For the past 27 years, I've known a person who I believe fits your description of "Pathological truth teller".

    She wouldn't have told the woman her son was dead, but she typically made a terrible first impression on new people she met.

    The first time I met her, I thought she was very rude. But, people who had known her for a long time seemed completely comfortable around her, and unphased by her apparent rudeness.

    As I got to know her, I too became very comfortable around her. She wasn't malicious. She didn't have hidden agendas. You didn't have to watch your back around her. You always knew where you stood. She was very trustworthy. She loved her family and we loved her.
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      Jun 30 2012: So, she is the type of person that would tell you "I don't think I like you very much after that specific comment you just made", or she makes comments like that after you ask her "where do I stand on your list of likeability?"?

      There was an insightful comment made that I would like to note made by Steve C (below).

      "It only becomes pathological when they believe that the facts are more important than me."

      So, your friend probably takes some consideration of your feelings, but is generally really blunt?
      • Jul 1 2012: I don't think feelings were much of a consideration, not because she didn't care about people, or because she believed the truth was more important than the person. Feelings weren't much of a consideration because I don't think she understood feelings very well; even her own.

        Regarding your first paragraph, she wouldn't have made the first comment and I would never have had reason to ask the second.
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          Jul 2 2012: Her personality sounds like it is an aquired taste, but I am interested in meeting this person, or someone similar, someday.

          Thanks for the clarification John. =)
  • Jun 30 2012: Since this is a strictly hypothetical question with a very broad range of possible scenarios, I don't think there is any absolute answer. Also, I think any answers to this question would be situation-specific. For example, the variability of "truth" may have a very large range when the truth-teller is asked for, say, an opinion. How can you possibly measure "truth" here?
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      Jun 30 2012: Very True Myra,

      I definitely agree with your comment.

      In addition, I would llike to add that, being prepared for the unknown is the best way for preventing something bad from happening. Sometimes discussing something hypothetical, but still realistic, will prepare you for the worst. It is like saying that "hypothetical disasters aren't important to prepare for", but if disaster hits, then preparing for it will help most, unless you make really great split second choices.
  • Jun 29 2012: This reminds me of a "Would you rather" question - would you rather be able to be invisible or be able to read people's minds?
    Could I "handle the truth" from reading people's minds? As a teenager, I don't think I could, but I'd value the total honesty from being able to do so if I could now.
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      Jun 29 2012: Sometimes, the most childish and elementary questions are the most pure, potent, and impactful. I grew up with parents that said I questioned too much, and other adults during my academic years also told me I asked too many questions. Now I still ask too many questions regardless what some people say, though I ask it at a more timely manner now. =)
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      Jun 29 2012: I have learned from one of my high school teachers that all you need is to ask the right questions, and in my english class in college I learned how to ask these hard questions. =)
      • Jun 29 2012: I bet you'd be a great Socratic Dialogue type of teacher, Derek.
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          Jun 29 2012: Ah, shucks. Never had anyone told me that before. Thanks Jim! =)
  • Jun 27 2012: As you said, their remarks can be hurtful.
    Even though they are not liars, we can't be sure that they are truly 'truthful'.

    Maybe their way of saying can be a bit blunt and too straight-forward(it can also be shallow).

    But the thing is... I don't think they are good people in a way that they only tell the truth to other people.
    It's just their kinda unique attitude. You know, they could have used more polite way of saying(such as euphemism)....If they had considered the feelings that their friends had.

    Real truth-teller is more profoundly honest.

    Sometimes a pathological truth-teller can be a liar when they really need to be brave.

    Hope this makes sense. :)
  • Jun 26 2012: The person that said "it looks hideous on you" may be telling the truth, but it is certainly not a helpful statement. Indeed, it is a hurtful comment. A more kind approach would have been "I don't think this store caters to your particular style." Let's go to Dilliards where the clothing is more to your taste. The person has told the truth and her friend's feelings are not hurt. I have to wonder about people that feel they must tell the brazen truth.
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      Jun 26 2012: What are your thoughts on people who tell brazen truths? Are they damaged, crazy, or is it just their nature of being?
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    Jun 26 2012: My ex husband once told me that I was "terminally honest' - so honest it will kill me. He might be right but as i said below, I try never to use truth as a weapon.
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      Jun 26 2012: That's funny Debra, I was just thinking today if someone interested in using truth as leverage, do politicians and criminals use truths as leverage and at the end gaining status/rank in the world?
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        Jun 27 2012: If it is ever truth in their cases it must only be a partial truth. It is interesting to note that even a little bit of lying undermines all the trust you might have built up. It is important to assertain a person's motivations because some people may not be great at sticking to the facts.
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          Jun 27 2012: I think you are talking about informational spin, but I meant that some politicians and criminals use someones "truth" or secret to motivate another person through fear. That lead me to think that, do most powerful or just successful politicians and criminals capitolize on other peoples "truths"? The answer seems like a 'yes', to me, and I was thinking, "what if the other person didn't hold their secret to be the "truth", so they would just be able to tell the world of their "truths", I think?
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        Jun 27 2012: Derek, YES! I think that there was a TED talk not long ago by an expert who said that only the criminals need your name on a bank card - so they can usse your info against you. In a case like mine, if I am willing to be transparent, life is easier. i have nothing to worry about if i do not have to worry about exposure because the threat has been eliminated through life style.

        PS, I did get your point wrong- thanks for helping me understand. I appreciate the patience you have shown me.
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          Jun 27 2012: It takes two to do the tango of patience my fair lady. =)

          I give big thank you back. =)
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        Jun 28 2012: I find it ridiculously helpful and meaningful to me, especially now, to experience such kindness from TEDdies. Thank you. It made my day and it took me a whole day to try to respond but it made for a great day.
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          Jun 28 2012: *Warning: Generic Response Activated*

          Ditto to your above comment. =P

          You, and others like you, make my day as well, and also gives me great hope and drives me to continue pursuing my life passions. =)
  • Jun 26 2012: It may be a bit late to jump into this but:

    isn't anyone who is pathological already somewhat maladaptive, compulsive and habitual in their person? Thus, they really couldn't be "truthful" because there is some ulterior motive, disease, phobia or twisted understanding of the world, reality, in which they live?

    I don't see how honesty, as one poster suggested, "is often more about making excuses for or justifying egoic speech..reactions, judgements, strong opinions, fear anger outrage etc." Honesty is not being deceptive or fraudulent. I do however think that Western culture not only gives too much power to words (as do many cultures, or all of them), that they should no longer have, but also listens very carefully to how something is said. Western culture is neurotic in this regard and the entire Western culture now believes it is wise and makes sense to second guess every and anything another says, thus preparing the truth and honesty to be torn to shreds and destroyed, all in the Western worship of lies.

    None of this conversation seems to include first raising a child with a balanced ego as opposed to just accepting that we will all have an ego that is out of control in our adult years, i.e. Sensitive, suspicious, conniving, deceptive and self-deceptive.

    I personally believe that it is possible to speak honestly and truthfully about things that may be considered judgmental, but to speak them non-judgmentally. How another takes those words, is then strictly up to them and not the speaker's concern. Lying by the way, is not wrong, immoral or really harmful, unless it is done to children and this is something more and more parents are doing according to recent surveys in the last few years. I propose that lying is the main cause of mental illness in children, other than real organic causes, and this is what many if not most parents have been doing during the last 70 years or more. Try using real honesty, truth and love, along with building trust first.
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      Jun 26 2012: Hi Random!

      It is never too late to join a conversation and a timed conversation seems a bit intimidating, never thought of that.

      You also bring up a fresh perspective to this conversation. Let me first direct you to one of Fritzie Reisner's comment:

      http://www.ted.com/conversations/12241/if_someone_you_knew_was_a_path.html?c=484566

      I quote her: "There is a difference between not lying and conveying the truth openly. "

      So what if the person just constantly conveyed the truth openly, instead of a pathological truth teller, how would your response change, in respect that this is my original intent of my topic?
      • Jun 27 2012: Hi
        I can only think of various experiences I have had, meaning my reactions or responses.
        My last girlfriend and I never fought, but one evening, as we were going over bills and who owed what, she suddenly said that she got the feeling I was feeling like she was trying to f**k me over.
        It came out as a direct question. I told her that my ego felt that way, but I was all right with it, and suddenly the tension was gone.

        Five years ago I stopped believing in a god. While in conversation with a Christian, he suddenly asked me if I knew what God was. Well, I knew what I knew. I knew what I believed, and I felt comfortable and capable of not only defending myself (if need be) but also tearing apart an attack, if that is what was coming. In a blazingly fast, split second, all my responses, proof, etc. rushed through my mind, and then they were followed by the recognition that I didn't need to do that or go there, and that some voice said to me, "why don't you just listen?" So, said, "what is God?", and he told me. In a flash, I knew what he meant, and I agreed. He next told me never to tell another human being what he just told me, and I haven't.

        It seems to me that respect was present in both instances. Respect for myself and respect for the other. The only way to learn to trust others is in trusting yourself not to hurt another. It starts within each person and is given outward to another. If one already has it, then there is no need to demand it, expect it or need it. But it will be given.

        So, I don't know. Sorry. But, take for instance Eckhart Tolle. I cannot read more than a sentence or two, at a time, of his words. There is so much power, truth, simplicity and wisdom in what he says, conveying truth openly, and yet there are many who try to tear down his reputation, his ideas, his position, etc. without really grasping what he is saying and conveying.

        So I don't really know. I'll post a poem.
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          Jun 29 2012: Thank you for the honour of reading such heartfelt words. They do my heart good.
      • Jun 27 2012: Here's my poem.

        It is still.
        The Truth.
        But at times, the Truth,
        Can be so ruthless,
        At times, it appears truthless.
        But it is still the Truth.
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    Jun 25 2012: speaking truth is never pathological ( and never involves or asserts the egoic)
    • Gord G 50+

      • +1
      Jun 25 2012: Lindsay, I had to respond to your comment regarding ego and truth. It's a familiar philosophical stance that has never felt comfortable to me.

      I believe it's impossible to disengage the state of mind defined as ego when responding to other individuals, since our very awareness of ego is ego driven. I think it's important we recognize the inaccessibility of truth, and the fallibility of awareness so we maintain an open mind. I also believe this fosters compassion.

      Some people may consider this doublethink, and that what I stated is essentially what is meant by disengaging the ego. But I think believing we can deny our ego is a quick way to self-righteousness. When what we really need to do is be in a state of openness, which often means suspending our incredulity long enough to explore the unfamiliar… or explore what our egos believe is not an egoless truth.

      Truth is a precept that removes personal responsibility for our thoughts and actions. Honesty requires vigilant introspection...we must take ownership of it.
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        Jun 25 2012: Gord..we are venturing into semantics here I think..I believe we are on the same page.

        To me the word "ego" is what we carry around as our broken defective operating system..we know ego is speaking or listening when we are judgmental, needy, reactive, controlling opinionated..I think it is impossible to speak truth or hear truth when in an egoic mode.

        When I use the word "truth" I mean a clarity, a transparency that is beyond mere facts or verifiable observations...something beyond opinion, ideology, or even belief systems.

        when we are thinking, speaking, listening beyond the egoic broken operating system mode, we take conscious responsibility for our thoughts, our words our deeds with an intent of clarity of transparency.

        "Honesty" is not the same coin of the realm and in my dictionary can include a disposition that does not take responsibility for our thoughts, our words, our actions, our listening. To me, the word "honesty" is often more about making excuses for or justifying egoic speech..reactions, judgements, strong opinions, fear anger outrage etc. Your example of extreme rudeness is an example of the pitfalls of "just being honest" and it co- entanglement with ego.

        so speaking truth can ever be pathological

        but

        hopefully with a lot of practice and mindful intention it can become fruitfully


        habitual.
        • Jun 26 2012: Lindsay, Yes I believe we're essentially of like mind regarding mindful intention.

          My concern is with the abstract concept of truth, and how it has been usurped throughout history to promote various ideological agendas. In theory it's impossible to deny there are universal truths, but in practice there's little consensus on the topic. The lack of consensus and the resulting objectification of subjective truth , allows people to easily disassociate themselves from any consequences.

          Honesty, though pedestrian and flawed, does not allow the individual to disassociate. They can only plead ignorance.

          But that's three ticks...so thanks for the food for thought, and I'll do my best to remain openminded about your comments. :-)
  • Gord G 50+

    • +1
    Jun 25 2012: Truth is a philosophical debate that scholars and philosophers haven't resolved. I believe people can only be honest. And I believe honesty, though harsh at times, is the best way to live an authentic life.

    As I often state, I'm being honest but I may not be speaking the truth. Everything is open to debate. It's the gap between honesty and truth that inspires insights that help us grow as individuals.

    That said, I wouldn't be honest if I didn't state that I occasionally shade my statements when I feel the information is painful with no apparent benefit to the person. But even then, I tend not to lie, and simply choose not to comment.
  • Jun 24 2012: The pathological truth-teller belongs to ideal Kantian philosophy and many have moved beyond this philosophy.
    This question is the same as "how would you react to Kant if you met him?" and there are accounts of his interactions in society. If you are truly interested in the reality of such a matter then I suggest browsing the philosophy literature covering Kant.

    Here is a good philosophy lecture series (free from Harvard) that includes a spot on Kant:
    http://www.justiceharvard.org/2011/02/episode-06/#watch
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      Jun 24 2012: I believe I viewed this video briefly before and it is really interesting. It is difficult to find what's right and wrong, but the gray is so gray that your moral compass begins to malfunction and that is when we as individuals have to make those "hard descisions" in life.
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      Jun 25 2012: How in the world did you associate truth-telling with Kant? All philosophies address truth.
      • Jun 26 2012: Kant's is a peculiar application of the concept of "pathological truth-telling". The Kantian perspective is to treat a person as an end in oneself and never as a means to an end. The case is not the same for other philosophies such as Utilitarianism.

        To lie to a person is to treat a person as a means to an end.
        Here is another discussion with real examples for contrast:
        http://www.justiceharvard.org/2011/06/bbc-torture-and-human-dignity-professor-michael-sandel-video/

        (it is certain that a person who does not admit lying is a person that has not experienced the difficult situations that are pondered in some philosophical thinking)
        Would you lie to keep a dear friend from being murdered by a vicious gang at your front door?
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          Jun 27 2012: Ah, the old lying under threat of severe harm argument. In all honesty, i still do not think I would lie because I use something liars do not - silence.

          However, back to Kant. First there was the church and God that said it was morally wrong to lie. Kant came along and said it is morally wrong to lie and you can figure it out without the church. After that, most schools of philosophy say it is morally wrong to lie with some notable exceptions. The objectivists say it's ok to lie if someone's life is at risk. The utilitarians say it's ok to lie if it is for the greater good. The relativists say it's ok to lie relative to the situation. etc etc What all these exceptions have done over time is convince us that its ok to lie.

          What you have to understand is that all these schools of philosophy think it is morally wrong to lie (or right to lie) based on the effects on other people.

          I do not lie for purely selfish reasons. Not some moral imperative. I am a busy person and I don't want to take the time and energy it takes to float a bunch of lies. I hate it. It annoys me no end and so therefore I do not do it.

          I do not think I am morally superior to others as Mr. Winner implicates, I do not care if you think I am trustworthy.

          I do not lie because it makes my life easier.

          (Sorry couldn't make it through the video. It is done at Harvard pace and I have trouble going that slow.)
      • Jul 3 2012: We only learn a lesson when ready or thrust upon us. If any one was tortured, I find it very hard to believe that such person would sit silent until death.
        BTW the example video is BBC TV for public viewing - not something at a Harvard pace that you refer to:
        I am SO sorry that I have referred to the dregs of scholars. I will try to reference myself only and give only self-aggrandising statements with no value to others in my future replies.
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    Jun 24 2012: As offensive it might get, if people were like this, it would solve a lot of problems in the world.
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    Jun 24 2012: My ideas are partially based on this movie. The scenarios playing similar to this movie in my mind. Also, it is a really funny/realistic movie.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-H2dNfx-Uw
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    Jun 24 2012: Sometimes the truth about our attitude and actions hurts. Sometimes the world loves the convinient(even if they are lies); sometimes the world prefers false hopes and well-presented lies, to truth. That is why sweet-tongued politicians get red carpet treatments for their lies, and the sweet-tongued(even if he's insincere) boy usually gets the girl.
    The world as it is will not be very friendly with the 'pathological truth-teller', because well-presented lies are always comforting to hear.
    Sincerely, I will not always like the words of this truth-teller.
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      Jun 24 2012: I don't think I understood your stance with the presented topic. I think you wouldn't like a pathological truth-teller?
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        Jun 24 2012: It is easier to point to the wrong deeds of other people. But do we easily take responsibility for our wrong actions and choices? It is easy to find fault in other people. But are not usually blind to our own faults? Dont we try hard to defend or give excuses for our failings while being intolerant of others' failings?
        It is human nature to profess to love the truth; but when we come face to face with certain truths about ourselves we become uncomfortable.
        I am sure that I would love the pathological truth-teller; but I will not always accept his words about me with enthusiasm.
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          Jun 24 2012: I see, we must learn to accept imperfections as the new perfection, to a certain extent. We must learn to have a deeper self analysis before we can find fault in others. Accept the faults of yourself and I the world may be easier upon you. May those who accept self error be role models to their onlookers.