TED Conversations

Seigi Karasaki

Organizer @ TEDxTodai, TEDxTodai


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Do people deserve to know the truth, even if it isn't in their best interest?

Is truth always the best choice of action? In "On the Decay of the Art of Lying," Mark Twain argues:

"Lying is universal--we all do it; we all must do it. Therefore, the wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for others' advantage, and not our own; to lie healingly, charitably, humanely, not cruelly, hurtfully, maliciously; to lie gracefully and graciously, not awkwardly and clumsily; to lie firmly, frankly, squarely, with head erect, not haltingly, tortuously, with pusillanimous mien, as being ashamed of our high calling. Then shall we be rid of the rank and pestilent truth that is rotting the land; then shall we be great and good and beautiful, and worthy dwellers in a world where even benign Nature habitually lies, except when she promises execrable weather. "

What are your thoughts?


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  • Mar 16 2013: This question can be illuminated by the inverse: Do people deserve to be lied to, misled and deceived on an everyday basis by people who have pledged, vowed and promised to be on their side?

    To that, the answer is definitively no.
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      Mar 16 2013: I think that what you say is true, Rand, but you limited the parameters of the question quite a bit by throwing in words like 'everyday basis' and 'pledged, vowed, and promised to be on their side'.. the original did not imply any sort of established relationship.
      • Mar 16 2013: Well. Do people deserve to be lied to?

        I read the question again and must ask: who determines what someone's best interest is? According to economic science, only the individual can determine his or her best interest. Not an external decision maker.

        So do people want to be lied to?
    • Mar 16 2013: There are times in life when telling someone "the truth" is not the kind thing to do. What you define as "the truth" may not be reality, you sometimes can only see things from your own perspective. What you see as the truth could really be a lie.
    • Mar 16 2013: Sometimes "you can't handle the truth." We can not presume to think that everyone wants to hear the truth and I agree with those that say: don't give your opinion unless it's asked for. Even when giving your friend want you think the truth is...say in a kind way, because sometimes we all make mistakes. You can tell someone that my opinion is or this is what I think is true, you can agree or disagree with me. Never believe that you know what the truth is...nothing in life is so black and white.

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