Hot Best Seller

The Truth about Lies: The Illusion of Honesty and the Evolution of Deceit

Availability: Ready to download

Why do you believe what you believe? You've been lied to. Probably a lot. We're always stunned when we realize we've been deceived. We can't believe we were fooled: What was I thinking? How could I have believed that? We always wonder why we believed the lie. But have you ever wondered why you believe the truth? People tell you the truth all the time, and you believe them; a Why do you believe what you believe? You've been lied to. Probably a lot. We're always stunned when we realize we've been deceived. We can't believe we were fooled: What was I thinking? How could I have believed that? We always wonder why we believed the lie. But have you ever wondered why you believe the truth? People tell you the truth all the time, and you believe them; and if, at some later point, you're confronted with evidence that the story you believed was indeed true, you never wonder why you believed it in the first place. In this incisive and insightful taxonomy of lies and liars, New York Times bestselling author Aja Raden makes the surprising claim that maybe you should. Buttressed by history, psychology, and science, The Truth About Lies is both an eye-opening primer on con-artistry--from pyramid schemes to shell games, forgery to hoaxes--and also a telescopic view of society through the mechanics of belief: why we lie, why we believe, and how, if at all, the acts differ. Through wild tales of cons and marks, Raden examines not only how lies actually work, but also why they work, from the evolutionary function of deception to what it reveals about our own. In her previous book, Stoned, Raden asked, "What makes a thing valuable?" In The Truth About Lies, she asks "What makes a thing real?" With cutting wit and a deft touch, Raden untangles the relationship of truth to lie, belief to faith, and deception to propaganda. The Truth About Lies will change everything you thought you knew about what you know, and whether you ever really know it.


Compare

Why do you believe what you believe? You've been lied to. Probably a lot. We're always stunned when we realize we've been deceived. We can't believe we were fooled: What was I thinking? How could I have believed that? We always wonder why we believed the lie. But have you ever wondered why you believe the truth? People tell you the truth all the time, and you believe them; a Why do you believe what you believe? You've been lied to. Probably a lot. We're always stunned when we realize we've been deceived. We can't believe we were fooled: What was I thinking? How could I have believed that? We always wonder why we believed the lie. But have you ever wondered why you believe the truth? People tell you the truth all the time, and you believe them; and if, at some later point, you're confronted with evidence that the story you believed was indeed true, you never wonder why you believed it in the first place. In this incisive and insightful taxonomy of lies and liars, New York Times bestselling author Aja Raden makes the surprising claim that maybe you should. Buttressed by history, psychology, and science, The Truth About Lies is both an eye-opening primer on con-artistry--from pyramid schemes to shell games, forgery to hoaxes--and also a telescopic view of society through the mechanics of belief: why we lie, why we believe, and how, if at all, the acts differ. Through wild tales of cons and marks, Raden examines not only how lies actually work, but also why they work, from the evolutionary function of deception to what it reveals about our own. In her previous book, Stoned, Raden asked, "What makes a thing valuable?" In The Truth About Lies, she asks "What makes a thing real?" With cutting wit and a deft touch, Raden untangles the relationship of truth to lie, belief to faith, and deception to propaganda. The Truth About Lies will change everything you thought you knew about what you know, and whether you ever really know it.

30 review for The Truth about Lies: The Illusion of Honesty and the Evolution of Deceit

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Aja Raden, and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review. Everyone lies! Let’s get that out of the way before we get any further. Aja Raden sets out to explore the world of lies that seems to have woven its way into our moral fabric, offering the reader some insight in to why we lie, how it has become commonplace, and what lies have become supposed truths over the First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Aja Raden, and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review. Everyone lies! Let’s get that out of the way before we get any further. Aja Raden sets out to explore the world of lies that seems to have woven its way into our moral fabric, offering the reader some insight in to why we lie, how it has become commonplace, and what lies have become supposed truths over the centuries. While she attempts to divide the types of lies into three categories, she is able to show that some lies have turned to accepted truths, though many are oblivious to the fact that will is constantly being pulled over their eyes. With straightforward writing and insightful research, Raden provides the reader with a great exploration of how truth and lies are interconnected on so many levels. Raden uses the first part of the book to explore the world of lies and swindles that some have used to tell others. Her example of a man travelling from Europe to ‘settle’ a territory in the Americas, only to sell tracts to unwitting people shows that some people will believe something because it is so far-fetched that it must have a grain of reality. Raden hashes out how and why people believe these types of large-scale cons, explaining that the extravagance is too large to trick people, so it must be true. Yet, people fall for the cons each and every time because they are hard-wired to trust in others. Shell games, where someone is to guess the location of a pea under a shell, are also prime examples of putting trust in others. The expectation is that one of the shells will hold the sought after pea, while in reality, a sleight of hand means that none of the shells possesses the item in the long run. Trust and deception are intertwined here, providing the con artist the greatest advantage throughout. The book continues by exploring the large-scale world of deception of the masses through lies, deception, and guilt. Raden uses some wonderful examples, the greatest of which is the promotion of medications of all sorts. The reader learns of the origins of ‘snake oil salesman’ and how the masses are duped into trusting that their ailments can be cured with one item of another. Scientific studies show the effect of placebos to the individual, debunking the need for the miracle cure if the personal inherently trusts that what they are putting in their mouths (or elsewhere) is the cure all. This can be extrapolated to the world of televangelism, where the only path os the one used by the speaker on the television, whose needs to ‘save’ are wrapped in a pricy donation. People fall for this because they cannot see past the wonders of salvation or healing, however dubious or backwards it may look on the outside. Raden’s final section tackles the topic of lies on the grandest scale, the con, where it is society who is the targeted victim of falsehoods. Using platforms of media and mass information distribution, Raden shows how there are certain soapboxes that have been used to push an idea to the masses, all in the hopes of spreading a falsehood that is so vast that it seems real. While many readers may have lived through the time where #fakenews was a daily cry, Raden explores what it means and how it works, amongst other areas of societal duping. She also offers the reader insight into how to create a great con by insisting that lies can be used, brick by brick, to create a false truth that everyone seems to follow. Fascinating throughout and definitely perplexing when put in those terms. I do enjoy a mix in my reading, usually to keep me on my toes and my brain sharpened to some of the non-fiction topics of the day. Aja Raden did a masterful job presenting this piece as being one that is not only relevant, but also highly intriguing. The psychology, sociology, and plain history that emerges from the pages of this book are not over simplified, but used effectively to keep the reader learning at every page turn. With a strong narrative, peppered with some saltiness to lighten the mood, Raden offers a wonderfully relatable piece that will keep the rewards enthused and laughing in equal measure. Lies have a way of pulling people in, wanting to see where they were duped and how others fell for something so simplistic (in hindsight). Raden does this perfectly and kept me wanting to know more. Quite the book, sure to pique the interest of many. My only question...how much of it was true?! Kudos, Madam Raden, for a great piece. You had me hooked from the opening pages and I learned more than I thought I could on one (vast) topic. I cannot wait to get my hands on your other book, which I hope is just as informative. Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Donna Craig

    Thank you to Sara at St. Martin’s Press for my copy of this book. The Truth About Lies seeks to explain why we, as humans, fall for lies, hoaxes, and the like. The author uses historical examples of successful lies from small (the shell game) to huge (the housing bubble) to illustrate our vulnerability. She attempts to break down our responses to lies in psychological and sociological terms. You may think this book sounds too serious, but the author maintains a snarky sense of humor throughout t Thank you to Sara at St. Martin’s Press for my copy of this book. The Truth About Lies seeks to explain why we, as humans, fall for lies, hoaxes, and the like. The author uses historical examples of successful lies from small (the shell game) to huge (the housing bubble) to illustrate our vulnerability. She attempts to break down our responses to lies in psychological and sociological terms. You may think this book sounds too serious, but the author maintains a snarky sense of humor throughout the book. The sense of humor used in the book WAS really funny. The use of footnotes to add humorous asides to stories really did amuse me. I’m just not sure I was able to take the author, or her subject, seriously. In addition, frequent use of “f***” as a verb, adverb, and adjective detracted from the credibility of the book. The inclusion of political perspective didn’t help. An interesting topic and an easy, enjoyable writing style kept my interest. I was also surprised by several good points (such as the point about money). If you like social insight that isn’t dry and boring, you may want to give this book a look.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Aja Raden

    I, mean, thought it was pretty good.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Date reviewed/posted: March 11, 2021 Publication date: May 11th, 2021 When life for the entire galaxy and planet has turned on its end, you are continuing to #maskup and #lockdown to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #secondwave ( #thirdwave ?)is upon us, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange f Date reviewed/posted: March 11, 2021 Publication date: May 11th, 2021 When life for the entire galaxy and planet has turned on its end, you are continuing to #maskup and #lockdown to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #secondwave ( #thirdwave ?)is upon us, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. Why do you believe what you believe? You’ve been lied to. Probably a lot. We’re always stunned when we realize we’ve been deceived. We can’t believe we were fooled: What was I thinking? How could I have believed that? We always wonder why we believed the lie. But have you ever wondered why you believe the truth? People tell you the truth all the time, and you believe them; and if, at some later point, you’re confronted with evidence that the story you believed was indeed true, you never wonder why you believed it in the first place. In this incisive and insightful taxonomy of lies and liars, New York Times bestselling author Aja Raden makes the surprising claim that maybe you should. Buttressed by history, psychology, and science, The Truth About Lies is both an eye-opening primer on con-artistry—from pyramid schemes to shell games, forgery to hoaxes—and also a telescopic view of society through the mechanics of belief: why we lie, why we believe, and how, if at all, the acts differ. Through wild tales of cons and marks, Raden examines not only how lies actually work, but also why they work, from the evolutionary function of deception to what it reveals about our own. In her previous book, Stoned, Raden asked, “What makes a thing valuable?” In The Truth About Lies, she asks “What makes a thing real?” With cutting wit and a deft touch, Raden untangles the relationship of truth to lie, belief to faith, and deception to propaganda. The Truth About Lies will change everything you thought you knew about what you know, and whether you ever really know it. This was a fascinating read, I am not going to lie ...lol. Having just finished binge-watching season 3 of "Damages" (love Glenn Close and Rose Byrne!) we know the power of lies from that season alone ... never trust anyone, at least on that show! We get lied to all the time, and this book takes it to the nth level of understanding why we lie and why we are lied to. This is not a casual read but I will recommend it to friends, family, patrons and book clubs as there are a zillion conversations that can be held as a result of reading this book, trust me. (lol) Take this book to the beach (or your back yard, porch or balcony) and enjoy it - just wear a tonne of SPF110 as you will lose track of time as you read this. - If we are in the 3rd or 4th wave/mutation of COVID19 by then, stay inside: no tan is worth dying for. As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I simply adore emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/snowflakes / literally-like-overusers etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🏖️🏖️🏖️🏖️🏖️

  5. 5 out of 5

    Linda Robinson

    Once again, Aja Raden needs a 12 star rating system. Propelled by what she shared with us in Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession, and How Desire Shapes the World, she now takes a cliff dive into the world of hoaxes, schemes and charming scalliwags. And cons. Long cons, short cons, skinny cons, cons that climb on rocks. You will be amazed to discover that the label Snake Oil salesman began with a guy who sold snake oil. We are treated to a longer look at the diamond industry and those 2 women at NW Ayers wh Once again, Aja Raden needs a 12 star rating system. Propelled by what she shared with us in Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession, and How Desire Shapes the World, she now takes a cliff dive into the world of hoaxes, schemes and charming scalliwags. And cons. Long cons, short cons, skinny cons, cons that climb on rocks. You will be amazed to discover that the label Snake Oil salesman began with a guy who sold snake oil. We are treated to a longer look at the diamond industry and those 2 women at NW Ayers who lied their butts off for DeBeers diamonds, creating rarity, need and big moolah out of thin air for decades. I still hope they got paid a bunch of money, but I still doubt it. The truth is not necessarily true, and we all agree to that, because otherwise our monetary system would fall flat on its Long Con ass. We learn our brain is itself a con artist (it lies to you all the time), and needs to be, so we can walk around on the planet without going bonkers questioning everything we see, hear or touch. You get the fact that your mother punished you for lying, but in fact - because she is human - she lied, too. (So you can stop winding yourself up trying to never lie.) Humans require lies to continue on the top of the food chain, and for society to function in whatever way society functions. I now don't have to think of my siblings who got the day of John F. Kennedy's funeral all wrong as people who just were not paying attention. 5 people - 5 different rememberings. Because none of them used my brain for processing - each has their own version. Also true.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Michelle

    Great. Googly. Moogly. What a book. We are all hardwired to lie. Who knew? And apparently, we are all hardwired to believe a lie [or of a certain perception], no matter what it might be [think the "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast]. Filled with facts and told with often biting humor, the author tackles a difficult subject and breaks down just how all of this affects all of us. But don't take my word for it - go and read. And be in awe as I am of just how mind-blowing this subject is. Thank you Great. Googly. Moogly. What a book. We are all hardwired to lie. Who knew? And apparently, we are all hardwired to believe a lie [or of a certain perception], no matter what it might be [think the "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast]. Filled with facts and told with often biting humor, the author tackles a difficult subject and breaks down just how all of this affects all of us. But don't take my word for it - go and read. And be in awe as I am of just how mind-blowing this subject is. Thank you to NetGalley, Aja Raden, and St. Martin's Press for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review. ** SIDE NOTE: The author narrates this book, and I really think that helped this book come alive for me. To hear the snarky sarcasm and humor really put things into perspective and made this subject even easier to digest. I HIGHLY recommend listening to this book!!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Maureen M

    The Truth About Lies by Aja Raden Aja Raden’s book is well-timed, with election conspiracy theories still echoing across the country. As frustrated partisans glare at each other across the divide, Raden steps in to explain how people can believe such different truths and refuse to budge despite the facts compiled to move them. The truth is, Raden says, we can’t handle the truth. She combines history and behavioral science to delightful effect to show us that lying is simply part of the human cond The Truth About Lies by Aja Raden Aja Raden’s book is well-timed, with election conspiracy theories still echoing across the country. As frustrated partisans glare at each other across the divide, Raden steps in to explain how people can believe such different truths and refuse to budge despite the facts compiled to move them. The truth is, Raden says, we can’t handle the truth. She combines history and behavioral science to delightful effect to show us that lying is simply part of the human condition. So is believing lies -- the bigger the lie, the better. Raden travels through time to show the patterns repeating: how Rasputin conned a desperate tsarina in the early 20th Century and how Bernie Madoff built a better Ponzi scheme a hundred years later. No matter how much more sophisticated we get, the cons keep coming. “Whether they’re the lies we tell each other or the subtler and more complicated lies we tell ourselves, deceit and belief are two halves of one whole,” Raden says. “Society cannot function without both.” Her study of “the evolution of deceit” covers politics, religion, business and medicine. Jaw-dropping examples lay out the Big Lie, the Long Con and more ways to exploit our healthy default of believing what people tell us. Yes, there will be snake oil. The results can be funny -- Orson Welles’ Martian hoax, for example -- until they’re not. Readers likely will think of the deadly assault on the Capitol built on false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. This book is too new to get into that, but Raden does make a reference to President Trump and his one-time “guru” Steve Bannon to show how the rich and powerful can figure in. It’s serious stuff, but Raden’s humor makes even the bitterest pills palatable. Take Bitcoin, an example of a financial instrument as tempting as it is impossible to quantify. “Sure, you can use it to buy things, in certain venues,” she says, “though the same is true of live chickens.” In Raden’s sure hands, the madness of the mortgage meltdown becomes more understandable, and art masterpieces less so. The takeaway is: There are facts, there are lies and they are not opposites. A lie can become your truth. And beware, beware the conventional wisdom. In “The Truth About Lies,” Raden joins the ranks of gifted commentators such as Dan Ariely (“Predictably Irrational”), Malcolm Gladwell (“Talking to Strangers”) and Shankar Vedantum (“Hidden Brain”), who help us make sense of our senseless behavior. She lays out lots to ponder here, promising her book a long shelf life. “When you fall for lies, as you have, as you will again, it doesn’t mean you’re stupid or there’s something wrong with you,” she reassures. “Quite the contrary, it means that everything is working exactly the way it’s designed to.”

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Fohl

    I wore out a highlighter on this one. I read and listen to a ton of content covering critical thinking, skepticism, myths, and cons. So I was concerned this book would be a lot of stuff I've already come across. I was pleasantly surprised, repeatedly, by stories of cons and lies I had never heard of. The writing is clear, with a light irreverent tone. The book's structure, a chapter on each of the nine types of lies, is brilliant and makes for fun reading. My favorite moments are when the author I wore out a highlighter on this one. I read and listen to a ton of content covering critical thinking, skepticism, myths, and cons. So I was concerned this book would be a lot of stuff I've already come across. I was pleasantly surprised, repeatedly, by stories of cons and lies I had never heard of. The writing is clear, with a light irreverent tone. The book's structure, a chapter on each of the nine types of lies, is brilliant and makes for fun reading. My favorite moments are when the author philosophizes on the human condition. Why we need lies. Truth vs fact. How we construct reality. My only quibble would be the findings of some psychology experiments are given too much weight. I can now better discover and avoid the lies around me, and I also have a good idea for a new con if I ever have to go to the Dark Side. This isn't just another science book. It is more. One I'd be happy to read again. "Its one thing to make up a girlfriend who lives in Canada. But who makes up Canada?" "Incompetence is a powerful motive to fear the future." "You never know who is swimming naked until the tide goes out." - Warren Buffett "The Truth about lies is that they're not only contagious-they're almost impossible to cure." "Some lies become so necessary that we not only avoid confronting them but actively work to securitize them against exposure. The lie has become not merely too big but, in fact, too real to fail." Things I learned: The mosquito coast is named after the Miskito Amerindians not the insect. Soapy Smith ran a telegraph to nowhere in Alaska profitably, for a year! The placebo effect doesn't work on Alzheimer's patients. Without the ability to remember the past or anticipate the future, priming doesn't work. Coca-Cola removed the cocaine from their soda because of a backlash when Black people were able to buy it. Michelangelo gained fame as a forger. Years before the "War of the World" radio program; England had a similar panic inducing fake broadcast about a revolution in London.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Matt Kelland

    I was given a review copy by the publisher. I will admit, I was hesitant to read this. After the last few years of being bombarded by "fake news" and social media propaganda, the constant daily list of lies from You-Know-Who, and the growing acceptance of the "post-truth society", I really didn't want to think about this topic. Can't we just try being honest with each other? Well, as it turns out, no. We're hard-wired, almost literally from birth, to deceive each other. The only questions are how I was given a review copy by the publisher. I will admit, I was hesitant to read this. After the last few years of being bombarded by "fake news" and social media propaganda, the constant daily list of lies from You-Know-Who, and the growing acceptance of the "post-truth society", I really didn't want to think about this topic. Can't we just try being honest with each other? Well, as it turns out, no. We're hard-wired, almost literally from birth, to deceive each other. The only questions are how much we're going to do it and whether we're going to get caught. (Short answers, more than we like to admit, and, eventually, yes, but it it may not matter.) Raden delves into the different types of deceit, from the Big Lie, the Shell Game, and the Bait and Switch to the Long Con. She goes from small-scale grifters to massive civilization-wide cons such as the value of diamonds or the mortgage market, and even religion. She doesn't just tell stories, though, she addresses philosophical questions like what it takes for a lie to be accepted as fact, or why we refuse to accept it when we're told we've been lied to. (And although Raden mostly stays away from contemporary politics, the implications for how we're going to rebuild our world are horrifying.) What really hooked me was the easy-going and conversational writing style. It was fun to read, and I read most of the book in one sitting. (Though if you're offended by f-bombs, you should probably stay clear of this - personally, I like them, because they made the writing feel authentic.) It was a great mixture of stories, psychology and philosophy, combining humor and shock with fascinating information. If you enjoy shows like Hustle or Lupin, you'll enjoy this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of The Truth About Lies. This was a fascinating, informative (sometimes hilarious) read about dishonesty, deceit, and the illusion of honesty. Lying is essential to the human species. We lie because we can. We lie to survive. We lie to deceive. We lie to achieve. We lie to succeed. But, why do we lie? How do people fall for it? The author breaks it down for the readers, the psychological and behavioral and cognitive factors behind why we lie, how so many people Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of The Truth About Lies. This was a fascinating, informative (sometimes hilarious) read about dishonesty, deceit, and the illusion of honesty. Lying is essential to the human species. We lie because we can. We lie to survive. We lie to deceive. We lie to achieve. We lie to succeed. But, why do we lie? How do people fall for it? The author breaks it down for the readers, the psychological and behavioral and cognitive factors behind why we lie, how so many people are suckers and get suckered in, and why con games are an enduring part of capitalism. The writing is great; straightforward, blunt, no fancy words, some cussing which adds levity with a hint of dark humor to the topic. I highly recommend this book. It might not make you smarter, but it might prevent you from falling for a business proposition that sounds just a tad bit too good to be true.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Viktor Lototskyi

    Great non-fiction, a mix of psychology talking about truth-lie biases and stories on how humanity was deceived by those.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tilly Wark

    The truth is I would be lying if I said this book kept my interest. The Truth About Lies had an interesting premise, however, I didn't much care for the author's execution. She would start off on a story that was genuinely interesting, and then have a few "squirrel" moments where she'd go off on a side tangent about a handful of other things, and then come back to the story she started with. That was a tad irksome. There were also quips and asides aplenty- some added value to the chapter, but man The truth is I would be lying if I said this book kept my interest. The Truth About Lies had an interesting premise, however, I didn't much care for the author's execution. She would start off on a story that was genuinely interesting, and then have a few "squirrel" moments where she'd go off on a side tangent about a handful of other things, and then come back to the story she started with. That was a tad irksome. There were also quips and asides aplenty- some added value to the chapter, but many didn't, which was also annoying. About halfway through the book I started to become bored. I found myself trying not to fall asleep on many occasions, and the last third of this book was an absolute slog to get through. I found that there started to be repetition, and that it wasn't keeping me engaged. Perhaps if there was less repetition, and fewer "squirrel" moments, I would have enjoyed this more. It's a shame, really. I was genuinely intrigued by the prospect of this book. It just failed to deliver for me (meanwhile my mum gave it a 5-star rating... to each her own). On the list of subjects I did like in this book: the fake country, the fake mine, and the statement "who would lie about Canada?".

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pritam Chattopadhyay

    It wasn’t that long back when I was reviewing ‘The Devil Wins: A History of Lying from the Garden of Eden to the Enlightenment’ by Dallas G. Denery. Upon the second reading of the tome, prior to effecting my review, I felt that this book was unique in its subject matter and presentation. I was wrong though. The premise of Denery’s book was something like this: Is it ever good enough to lie? This question plays an astonishingly imperative function in the story of Europe's transition from medieval It wasn’t that long back when I was reviewing ‘The Devil Wins: A History of Lying from the Garden of Eden to the Enlightenment’ by Dallas G. Denery. Upon the second reading of the tome, prior to effecting my review, I felt that this book was unique in its subject matter and presentation. I was wrong though. The premise of Denery’s book was something like this: Is it ever good enough to lie? This question plays an astonishingly imperative function in the story of Europe's transition from medieval to modern society. In keeping with numerous historians, Europe became modern when Europeans began to lie--that is, when they began to argue that it is sometimes acceptable to lie. This popular account offers a clear trajectory of historical progression from a medieval world of faith, in which every lie is sinful, to a more worldly early modern society in which lying becomes a permissible strategy for self-defense and self-advancement. Upon the second reading of the Denery’s tome, prior to effecting my review, I felt that this book was exclusive in its subject matter and presentation. I was wrong though. I had the contentment of reading the recently published tome ‘The Truth About Lies’ by Aja Raden. It is a wonderful wonderful book. Raden’s hypothesis is just an overturn of Denery’s. As the blurb declares the book is ‘both an eye-opening primer on con-artistry—from pyramid schemes to shell games, forgery to hoaxes—and also a telescopic view of society through the mechanics of belief: why we lie, why we believe, and how, if at all, the acts differ.’ Organized in three parts: 1) Lies We Tell Each Other, 2) Lies We Tell Ourselves, and 3) Lies We All Agree to Believe, ‘The Truth About Lies’ scrutinizes the affiliation of truth to lie, conviction to trust, and dishonesty to misinformation using neurological, historical, sociological, and psychological insights and examples. The book proposes that some of our most cherished institutions are fundamentally enormous versions of those self-same, very old cons and also complicate the vision we have of both the habitual liar and the classic “sucker.” Why do people believe what they believe? Ask yourself: What are you sure of? We can start simple; let’s just talk about basic facts. How many facts are you certain you know? Quite a few of them, probably. You know your ABCs, you know state capitals, you know water molecules are composed of two hydrogen atoms bonded to one oxygen atom. You know that the earth is round, right? Are you sure? How did you come by this certainty? Surely you didn’t do the calculations yourself. The odds are, if you tried to right now, you wouldn’t be able to, because you don’t even know exactly which geometric calculations were used, thousands of years ago, to determine that fact in the first place. And even if you did know what they were, your math skills probably aren’t that strong. Raden’s point is not to convince you that the earth is flat—of course it’s not. Her point is to show you how many truths you accept without ever considering why you believe them to be true. She doesn’t want you to question whether or not the earth is round; she just wants you to realize that you never really did. We blindly rely upon certain facts: things we’re taught, things we can observe or reason. And once we “know” these things, we never really question them again. But often we also deem things to be fact basically because we’re presented with them. Neurologists refer to this tendency as an ‘honesty bias’. It’s how we know almost everything that we know: someone else told us. Or someone showed us, or we read it in a book. And though honesty bias may sound too stupid to be true, in a strange, roundabout way, it’s what makes us all—as a group—so compellingly intellectual. This book looks at nine basic cons from several angles, among those: the swindlers who worked them, the lies they told, and the people who were taken in. Each chapter tells the contemptible story of a classic con and illustrates the mechanism by which it works, using both current and historical examples. From the story of a fake Martian invasion that started a very real riot, twice, to the modern madness of Twitter; from a Wild West diamond scam so vast it made fools (and in some cases criminals) of the well-heeled investors of 1872 (including Charles Tiffany) to the tale of that same bait-and-switch scam dressed up in a new investment opportunity called mortgage-backed securities, which nearly toppled the world banking system in 2008. This book examines the Pyramid Schemes you’ve heard of, the ones you haven’t, and the ones we’ve all bought into without even realizing. More important, each chapter examines mechanisms of faith and the unrelenting—and maybe primary—role that too-good-to-be-true and faith-based deals have played in human history. Is the twisted tale of selling Snake Oil, which started the craze for so-called patent medicines and led to America’s first Victorian opioid crisis and the subsequent crackdown by the newly formed FDA, really about gullibility, or does the strange science of placebos tell us more about the biology of belief than we realize? Grab a copy as soon as possible. You’d love it almost certainly.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shirley

    Wild and entertaining truth about lies! My favorite is the long con that is the diamond engagement ring. I'm an Aja Raden fan. I was so thrilled to discover she narrated the audiobook that I must listen to it immediately! I love her voice and how she adds color a drama to the storytelling with her reading. Love it loveit love it🥰 Wild and entertaining truth about lies! My favorite is the long con that is the diamond engagement ring. I'm an Aja Raden fan. I was so thrilled to discover she narrated the audiobook that I must listen to it immediately! I love her voice and how she adds color a drama to the storytelling with her reading. Love it loveit love it🥰

  15. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    Extraordinarily provocative. Aja Raden writes with stunning clarity and command; the scope of her knowledge is breathtaking; she is convincing, captivating and ridiculously funny and refreshingly irreverent, and has thoroughly tapped into the zeitgeist. It's so brilliant and memorable that you'll want to highlight every paragraph. This is a must-read. Extraordinarily provocative. Aja Raden writes with stunning clarity and command; the scope of her knowledge is breathtaking; she is convincing, captivating and ridiculously funny and refreshingly irreverent, and has thoroughly tapped into the zeitgeist. It's so brilliant and memorable that you'll want to highlight every paragraph. This is a must-read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Matthew J.

    (I received a digital ARC version of this book). A fascinating and sometimes depressing look at lies. From biological imperatives (survival features like camouflage & mimicry) to ubiquitous pyramid schemes (like MLMs, the stock market & religion) to con jobs and forgeries, Raden looks at how we lie, why we lie, what it even means to lie and how it is an inherent element of our lives without which we would not survive, much less thrive. Multiple stories from history up to the present explore the n (I received a digital ARC version of this book). A fascinating and sometimes depressing look at lies. From biological imperatives (survival features like camouflage & mimicry) to ubiquitous pyramid schemes (like MLMs, the stock market & religion) to con jobs and forgeries, Raden looks at how we lie, why we lie, what it even means to lie and how it is an inherent element of our lives without which we would not survive, much less thrive. Multiple stories from history up to the present explore the nature of lies and truth. She looks at how we're taken in by things, and how our ability to be taken in is the very same ability that allows us to function and carry on civilization. She looks at how our brain works by fudging perception because it can't process everything all the time, so it just cheats, and how sleight of hand exploits that cheat. Interesting characters, scoundrels and entrepreneurs, hucksters and heroes populate the book, many of whom deserve their own book (many of whom have their own books). There's lots of good stuff in here, and it will make you look at things a bit more critically. Will you still fall for lies? Yes. It's how we're built. But maybe you can avoid the most destructive...or try to extract yourself from the most toxic lies you're already wrapped in.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Whitney

    Humans love to be lied to. Well, we don’t like the consequences of lies, but that doesn’t seem to slow us down on stumbling into cons throughout the centuries. Raden takes us through a laugh out loud history of the con. And while the players may change, the outcomes stay exactly the same. Structured into nine sections, Raden explores everything from the Big Lies, such as making up a country, pyramid schemes and the 2008 financial crisis, to illusions, shell games, and counterfeit masterpieces. (F Humans love to be lied to. Well, we don’t like the consequences of lies, but that doesn’t seem to slow us down on stumbling into cons throughout the centuries. Raden takes us through a laugh out loud history of the con. And while the players may change, the outcomes stay exactly the same. Structured into nine sections, Raden explores everything from the Big Lies, such as making up a country, pyramid schemes and the 2008 financial crisis, to illusions, shell games, and counterfeit masterpieces. (Fun fact of today, 20-30% of the art in every museum is actually counterfeit.) What takes these lessons beyond the history books is Raden’s humor and psychological grounding. She explains how our trusting nature as humans allowed us to become the world dominating species we are today - due to collective intelligence. She discusses biases, the need for confirmation, and even lapses of memory - all which prime us to be conned. I loved how she delved into what distinguishes a fact from truth, and how our perception isn’t as grounded as we’d want to believe. For anyone looking to understand lying, social psychology, and a slice of human nature - you can find no better guide.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Konet

    I felt some of this book was quite compelling. I liked how to the author divided the book and then broke down segment and went in depth with each. The author obviously cares about honesty and lies in the larger picture. However, I really did not learn anything new or mind blowing and there was not much of a bibliography. Seriously?! Like 70% of the book was your own original thoughts and observations? Plagiarism, anyone? Maybe that is part of "the lies." Just ok for me and still recommended for o I felt some of this book was quite compelling. I liked how to the author divided the book and then broke down segment and went in depth with each. The author obviously cares about honesty and lies in the larger picture. However, I really did not learn anything new or mind blowing and there was not much of a bibliography. Seriously?! Like 70% of the book was your own original thoughts and observations? Plagiarism, anyone? Maybe that is part of "the lies." Just ok for me and still recommended for other people into psychology and truth/lies. Thanks to Netgalley, Aja Raden and St Martin's Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Available: 5/11/21

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ted

    Overall I enjoyed the book as it explores notions of truth and lies. She offers many interesting historical events to illustrate the many types of lies and deception humans engage in. She takes a very broad definition of lying - in evolution both predators and prey have developed sometimes elaborate means to deceive each other and so have many species in their mating games, so 'lying' is part of nature. Because of human intellect and use of language, humans have been able to create many new ways Overall I enjoyed the book as it explores notions of truth and lies. She offers many interesting historical events to illustrate the many types of lies and deception humans engage in. She takes a very broad definition of lying - in evolution both predators and prey have developed sometimes elaborate means to deceive each other and so have many species in their mating games, so 'lying' is part of nature. Because of human intellect and use of language, humans have been able to create many new ways to deceive each other and she explores these in interesting ways. Our brains have evolved to process information quickly which has helped make humans quite successful in spreading across the planet. Our brains don't have to deal with everything by personal trial and error for we can learn lesson that we apply to many new and varied situations. We have culture which creates social memory which helps us negotiate our world and relationships even quicker. But it is this trait - the ability to understand the world and new situations which is also a certain weakness which is what liars and frauds take advantage of. Many common 'magic' tricks are really slight of hand which takes advantage of how our brains anticipate things so we miss what is in front of us because our brains are expecting something else. This is the basis of many types of crimes involving deception. But I think Raden at times creates her own con when she CONfuses the difference between lies and truth in social situations. She points out that money has no 'real' value and is really a social CONstruct. We socially agree that money has value and this speeds up many of our transactions (which is just humans using their brains). Counterfeiters create fake money, but Raden says as long as we continue to use their $100 bills as real money we are just following one 'lie' or another (for real money has no value except what we give it). So she concludes all money is a lie because it isn't based in things of actual value (like gold). But for me even gold only has the value we socially construct for it. Money is a social CONvienience and is not a lie. Counterfeit money is a lie because it isn't part of the social construct and social trust we need to function as a society. Counterfeit aims to deceive whereas real money does not. I think she broadens out the definition of a lie so much as to empty it of value and thus creates her own lie.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Kelley

    This was an interesting and informative read and I would rate it at 4 1/2 stars. According to the author learning to lie is an early developmental milestone that children have to reach on the road to normal development. She goes on to describe the lie and the many ways we lie either by voice or by actions . It starts out with a quote from one of the evilest people in history Adolf Hitler when he said "The great mass of people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small lie". There This was an interesting and informative read and I would rate it at 4 1/2 stars. According to the author learning to lie is an early developmental milestone that children have to reach on the road to normal development. She goes on to describe the lie and the many ways we lie either by voice or by actions . It starts out with a quote from one of the evilest people in history Adolf Hitler when he said "The great mass of people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small lie". There are many forms of lying, they can be a verbal lie, an action like three card monty or the shell game that you find on big city street corners. Do you realize the actions of an illusionist is a form of a lie or really a deception and it is interesting to learn how our minds aid the illusionist. There what the author calls Guru cons people that maybe a Guru, Politician, or a televangelists just to name just a few. There is detailed section that explains how Rasputin was able to pull his con on the Russian family. Did you know it is easier to convince someone to believe a lie than it is to convince that person that they have been lied to once they've come to believe the lie. This even covers what maybe the biggest con of all the diamond industry and the engagement ring. After seeing many of things taking place today this book should give you some insight on why some individuals think the way they do and how they or we can be manipulated.

  21. 4 out of 5

    David

    The Truth about Lies: The Illusion of Honesty and the Evolution of Deceit by Aja Raden Imagine you’re sitting in a bar nursing an afternoon cocktail and a person takes the stool next to you. It’s a lady with raven-colored hair and an enigmatic smile. She begins telling you in colorful, bar-type language about many of the ways people have been deceived, lied to, and otherwise led to believe in a variety of dodges and gimmicks that never end in their favor. In The Truth about Lies: The Illusion of H The Truth about Lies: The Illusion of Honesty and the Evolution of Deceit by Aja Raden Imagine you’re sitting in a bar nursing an afternoon cocktail and a person takes the stool next to you. It’s a lady with raven-colored hair and an enigmatic smile. She begins telling you in colorful, bar-type language about many of the ways people have been deceived, lied to, and otherwise led to believe in a variety of dodges and gimmicks that never end in their favor. In The Truth about Lies: The Illusion of Honesty and the Evolution of Deceit by Aja Raden I felt exactly like that. I was entertained, educated and often amused by Raden’s story of lies and the myriad ways that unethical people have taken advantage of the unsuspecting, the greedy, or merely foolish victims. Raden describes the various ploys, including the simple shell game, Ponzi schemes, forgeries, and the “long con” that people fall prey to and have for centuries. What was most illuminating was that the reason many of the deceptions were so successful was that they took advantage of the human brain and its receptors operating just as they should. Raden has assembled an impressive source list and then presented it in an off-hand, fun, but comprehensive way. The sad thing is that after reading it, like Diogenes, you’ll be left looking for an honest man. Thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book for review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chris Boutté

    This was such a great book, and I’m so glad I came across Aja Raden’s work. First off, she’s an incredible writer, and I’m surprised I’m just now learning about her books. I picked up a copy of this book because I’ve been diving deep into books on the psychology of why and how we trust. I’m usually a fan of books that are more science-based and not so much stories, but when I find a great writer, it keeps me engaged, and that’s what Aja did. In the first part of the book, she breaks down some of This was such a great book, and I’m so glad I came across Aja Raden’s work. First off, she’s an incredible writer, and I’m surprised I’m just now learning about her books. I picked up a copy of this book because I’ve been diving deep into books on the psychology of why and how we trust. I’m usually a fan of books that are more science-based and not so much stories, but when I find a great writer, it keeps me engaged, and that’s what Aja did. In the first part of the book, she breaks down some of the famous cons and lies like the “big lie”, the shell game, and the bait and switch. In these chapters, she not only breaks down some of the psychology but uses stories as an example. Then, she writes about ways we deceive ourselves and the psychology of the placebo effect, but I also really enjoyed the third part of the book where it gets a bit philosophical with the lies we agree to believe. This was a very well-rounded book that educates while also entertains with stories of famous cons. I highly recommend you check this book out, and now I’m going to go buy her other book Stoned because it seems really interesting as well.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Thought Provoking, But Could Have Used More Documentation. This is a very thought provoking book that looks at lies and how we deceive both ourselves and others, using scams from prehistory all the way through the 2010s. In its examinations of how we deceive both ourselves and each other, it seems to this reader to be very well reasoned, very well thought out, and very well written. Lots of education, a fair degree of humor, and (warning to those "sensitive" to it), a few F-bombs to boot. Indeed Thought Provoking, But Could Have Used More Documentation. This is a very thought provoking book that looks at lies and how we deceive both ourselves and others, using scams from prehistory all the way through the 2010s. In its examinations of how we deceive both ourselves and each other, it seems to this reader to be very well reasoned, very well thought out, and very well written. Lots of education, a fair degree of humor, and (warning to those "sensitive" to it), a few F-bombs to boot. Indeed, the one main weakness here is the dearth of its bibliography - coming it at just 6% ish of the text rather than the more common 25-30% of well-documented nonfiction texts. Also, the cover - I don't believe Washington and the (very likely apocryphal, and thus... a lie) story of his childhood cherry tree is ever mentioned in the text. So the cover lies... which may be the point. ;) Overall a superb book, but the bibliography issue knocks it down a star. Very much recommended.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Ever got taken in by a hoax or a really good lie? If you're like most people, you tend to believe the things you hear. But why is that? Aja Raden takes an in-depth look at why we're built to believe the lies people tell us (no matter how insane they may sound). This book is non-fiction but it was so insanely captivating that I couldn't stop reading. I love the psychology behind why we act the way we do, and this was a great way to get educated without being bored even one bit. With fascinating e Ever got taken in by a hoax or a really good lie? If you're like most people, you tend to believe the things you hear. But why is that? Aja Raden takes an in-depth look at why we're built to believe the lies people tell us (no matter how insane they may sound). This book is non-fiction but it was so insanely captivating that I couldn't stop reading. I love the psychology behind why we act the way we do, and this was a great way to get educated without being bored even one bit. With fascinating examples ranging from the War of the Worlds hoax to Bernie Madoff, there's so much to learn here - and I certainly feel like my eyes have been opened about the lies I've tended to believe in the past. I'll definitely be recommending this read to everyone and will greatly anticipate whatever Raden writes next! Free ARC provided by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review

  25. 5 out of 5

    DeAnna Knippling

    A book about how liars use different tricks to fool our brains. The beginning of this book was a lot of fun! The author's research into the subject was insightful, well written, and well structured. However, as the book went on, it because more disorganized and meandering. Still interesting, but overall the book didn't seem to back up its larger, society-level claims or come to a final conclusion other than "gosh we all lie a lot." Which, although true, felt a bit obvious. So a fun read on the su A book about how liars use different tricks to fool our brains. The beginning of this book was a lot of fun! The author's research into the subject was insightful, well written, and well structured. However, as the book went on, it because more disorganized and meandering. Still interesting, but overall the book didn't seem to back up its larger, society-level claims or come to a final conclusion other than "gosh we all lie a lot." Which, although true, felt a bit obvious. So a fun read on the subject, but it didn't quite live up to its potential, given the beginning. I received an ARC copy of this book, though, so that may have been handled later. Recommended if you're interested in points where psychology, history, and crime intersect.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    I was fortunate to have received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway; thanks to St. Martin's Press. Everyone lies. Everyone believes they are smart enough not to fall for a lie. This book reviews some of history’s biggest lies and schemes, the people who perpetrated them and those who went along, even when all signs contradicted the stories that were being told. From Ponzi schemes to shell games, from days long ago to recent headlines, the author breaks down the how and the why with wit a I was fortunate to have received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway; thanks to St. Martin's Press. Everyone lies. Everyone believes they are smart enough not to fall for a lie. This book reviews some of history’s biggest lies and schemes, the people who perpetrated them and those who went along, even when all signs contradicted the stories that were being told. From Ponzi schemes to shell games, from days long ago to recent headlines, the author breaks down the how and the why with wit and humour that was both informative and entertaining. This book is definitely worth the read. Full five stars.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    I was underwhelmed by this book. The concept is intriguing and there were a few nuggets of historical examples that were interesting. However, the style was distracting. I felt the manner (and expletives) of writing detracted from the underlying points of the stories. To be clear, I can be as foul-mouthed as they come, but the inclusion of such in this writing left me feeling like I was reading the ramblings of an "internet Karen", almost instantly removing any credibility the author may actuall I was underwhelmed by this book. The concept is intriguing and there were a few nuggets of historical examples that were interesting. However, the style was distracting. I felt the manner (and expletives) of writing detracted from the underlying points of the stories. To be clear, I can be as foul-mouthed as they come, but the inclusion of such in this writing left me feeling like I was reading the ramblings of an "internet Karen", almost instantly removing any credibility the author may actually have.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kedijik

    It has been a while since i read a nonfiction covering familiar that had non-trivial insight. Although I instinctively understand what kind of a big lie would work and why, i never saw it articulated as well as it is in this book. Although you might get that 'you love being lied to' really none of us actually get our own part in being lied to. Great book, good humour and very valuable insights. Unfortunately just like someone who has lied, I also lost some faith in the truth by the time I finish It has been a while since i read a nonfiction covering familiar that had non-trivial insight. Although I instinctively understand what kind of a big lie would work and why, i never saw it articulated as well as it is in this book. Although you might get that 'you love being lied to' really none of us actually get our own part in being lied to. Great book, good humour and very valuable insights. Unfortunately just like someone who has lied, I also lost some faith in the truth by the time I finished it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jessi

    This is an incredibly readable nonfiction book that looks at the lies people tell and why we believe them. Raden discusses several stories that actually overlap with another book on lies that I read recently but comes at them differently. The stories themselves are interwoven with information about why it is so easy to believe them, even when we see proof of "the truth" right in front of our own eyes. And more startling, even when people come out and SAY that they've been lying, people will refu This is an incredibly readable nonfiction book that looks at the lies people tell and why we believe them. Raden discusses several stories that actually overlap with another book on lies that I read recently but comes at them differently. The stories themselves are interwoven with information about why it is so easy to believe them, even when we see proof of "the truth" right in front of our own eyes. And more startling, even when people come out and SAY that they've been lying, people will refuse to believe it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    If you read only one more book this year, this should be it. The author does an excellent job describing lies that we come to believe as truth, simply because someone or some group crafted them that way. It goes a long way toward explaining the turmoil that we are recently experiencing. And the author is a good writer. It's an excellent example of the craft of creative nonfiction called New Journalism. It will keep you engaged to the very end. If you read only one more book this year, this should be it. The author does an excellent job describing lies that we come to believe as truth, simply because someone or some group crafted them that way. It goes a long way toward explaining the turmoil that we are recently experiencing. And the author is a good writer. It's an excellent example of the craft of creative nonfiction called New Journalism. It will keep you engaged to the very end.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...