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: Seigi, I try to not lie. I have, but never with the intent of hurting someone. I have also posted some things on TED that I later found were untrue. That taught me to do better research.

    Quick story: I arrived at a accident scene where a camper had been hit by a train. I seated the woman away from the scene with minor cuts and bruises .... She asked about her husband ... I directed the ambulance crew to take her for eval at the local hospital. The husband had been thrown and the camper shell landed on his head. I sent her away knowing this. My purpose was to not have the last image of her husband like this. She said at the hospital that she deserved to see him and I denied her that right. Yep, she is right. She said she would never forgive me. I hope that when she recalls her husband he is young, strong, and smiling. I can live with that lie and wish her well.

    There is no universal rule. No absolutes. Time and circumstances dictate our actions. In my case .... can you live with the decision. She probally still hates me ... but I lied to her as a act of love ..... I can live with it.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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      Mar 16 2013: Bob,

      I found this to be incredibly emotional and moving. Thank you for sharing. What a hard decision to make it must have been..
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      Mar 21 2013: Hi Bob,

      Your story fascinates me. I agree with Seigi's comment, but now I am interested in someone with the same experience making the other decision. Thank you for sharing with us Bob.

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