Lying Book Summary - Lying Book explained in key points
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Lying summary

Sam Harris

Why we need to stop lying and start telling the truth

3.8 (587 ratings)
9 mins

Brief summary

Lying by Sam Harris is a thought-provoking book that explores the moral and practical implications of dishonesty.
It challenges readers to examine their own attitudes towards lying and offers compelling arguments for why honesty should be valued above all else.

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    Summary of 4 key ideas

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    There are two types of lie; neither should be told.

    Remember being told never to tell lies as a child? No one wants to be dubbed a liar, and while most people wouldn’t dare tell a monumental lie, many often tell little lies that they perceive to be insignificant.

    The majority of people avoid big lies because of the disastrous effects they can have. Such lies can end careers or result in jail time, can ruin a person’s life or even throw entire societies into disarray.

    Despite the detrimental effects of big lies, governments and the wider media continue to spread them. This has created a general feeling of distrust toward world leaders on a global scale. For instance, justification for the Iraq War hinged, in large part, on a lie; the Bush administration claimed that the country was hiding weapons of mass destruction – a claim that turned out to be untrue. This blatant deception caused many people to become skeptical of foreign policy in the United States.

    Funnily enough, little lies are usually not regarded with the same moral rectitude. In fact, people generally think such lies are okay, since they’re often used to spare the feelings of others. But white lies do damage, too.

    Imagine a family getting ready to host guests for a week. Prior to the guests’ arrival, the husband says to his wife in the presence of their young daughter that he wishes they weren’t coming to stay. The guests arrive and thank the man for his hospitality, and he chirpily responds that he’s happy to see them – but his daughter pipes up and repeats what he said earlier.

    This clearly puts the man in an awkward position. He can’t say that he’s not happy to see his guests; however, denying what he previously said also sets a bad example for his child. If he had welcomed his guests in more ambiguous terms – by say something like “That’s why we have guest rooms!” – this whole situation could have been avoided.

    Little lies may have less of an impact than big lies, but, in the long run, they can also have devastating results.

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    What is Lying about?

    Lying (2011) explains why the act of telling lies is so dangerous. And that means all lies, from the tiny lies that people tell on a daily basis to the massive lies sometimes told on the world stage. All in all, it’s always better to tell the truth.

    Lying Review

    Lying (2011) by Sam Harris explores the moral and practical implications of dishonesty, making it a thought-provoking read. Here's why this book is worth picking up:

    • With clear, persuasive arguments, the book challenges our beliefs about lying, forcing us to reexamine the reasons behind our dishonesty.
    • The author presents compelling case studies and real-life examples, making the book relatable and relevant to our everyday lives.
    • Through candid, conversational prose, Harris manages to engage readers in a topic that is often dismissed as mundane, ensuring that boredom is not a possibility.

    Best quote from Lying

    Every lie is an assault on the autonomy of those we lie to.

    —Sam Harris
    example alt text

    Who should read Lying?

    • Anyone who’s ever told a lie
    • Psychology students  
    • People interested in politics

    About the Author

    Sam Harris’s books have been translated into more than 20 languages. His other titles include The End of Faith and Free Will. Five of his books have made the New York Times’s best-seller list. He is also the host of the podcast Waking Up, which discusses spirituality.

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    Lying FAQs 

    What is the main message of Lying?

    The main message of Lying is the importance of honesty, even in situations where telling the truth might be difficult or uncomfortable.

    How long does it take to read Lying?

    The reading time for Lying varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in about 15 minutes.

    Is Lying a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Lying is a thought-provoking book that challenges your perception of honesty. It's definitely worth reading for its insightful perspective.

    Who is the author of Lying?

    Sam Harris is the author of Lying.

    What to read after Lying?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Lying, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
    • Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom
    • The Big Picture by Sean Carroll
    • Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark
    • Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway
    • Power Play by Tim Higgins
    • Human Compatible by Stuart Russell
    • Making Sense by Sam Harris
    • Knowledge by Jennifer Nagel
    • Behave by Robert Sapolsky