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This story is about something called Radical Honesty. It may change your life. (But honestly, we don't really care.)
September 5, 2007 6:35 AM   Subscribe

I appreciate you for reading this article. I resent you for snarking in the thread without reading it.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (293 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
I feel it would be useless to comment in this thread without being radically honest.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:35 AM on September 5, 2007


Blanton pours himself another bourbon and water. He's got a wad of chewing tobacco in his cheek, and when he spits into the fireplace, the flames crackle louder.

"My boss says you sound like a dick," I say.

"Tell your boss he's a dick," he says.

"I'm glad you picked your nose just now," I say. "Because it was funny and disgusting, and it'll make a good detail for the article."

"That's fine. I'll pick my ass in a minute." Then he unleashes his deep Texan laugh: heh, heh, heh. (He also burps and farts throughout our conversation; he believes the one-cheek sneak is "a little deceitful.")

No topic is off-limits. "I've slept with more than five hundred women and about a half dozen men," he tells me. "I've had a whole bunch of threesomes" -- one of which involved a hermaphrodite prostitute equipped with dual organs.

What about animals?

Blanton thinks for a minute. "I let my dog lick my dick once."
I don't want to hear all that, really.
posted by delmoi at 6:37 AM on September 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


Delmoi posts too much.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 6:39 AM on September 5, 2007 [20 favorites]


I liked this article better when it was Simpson's episode number 1F05.
posted by DU at 6:40 AM on September 5, 2007


DU once pissed me off in a thread so badly that I still associate his name with mud.
posted by item at 6:42 AM on September 5, 2007


Also, even if this were a good idea and were possible (i.e. which of two vacillating, ambivalent opinions is the "truth"?), it still wouldn't work. A liar in the land of radical honesty would be king.
posted by DU at 6:45 AM on September 5, 2007


unfortunately, radical honesty would be wasted with people who weren't radically interesting

and most of us aren't
posted by pyramid termite at 6:48 AM on September 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


What about the lies that make me feel better? Can I still tell them?
posted by biffa at 6:50 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


"If you're having fantasies about your wife's sister, Blanton says to tell your wife and tell her sister."

Uh, do not do this. It just makes holidays awkward.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:54 AM on September 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


I think that radical honesty could be really good for people, but I'm not going to start today, since I'm working with a new client for the first time. And I'll probably think of another good reason for postponement tomorrow.
posted by dubold at 6:56 AM on September 5, 2007


Once again, I felt the thrill of inappropriate candor. And I felt something else, too. The paradoxical joy of being free from choice. I had no choice but to tell the truth. I didn't have to rack my brain figuring out how to hedge it, spin it, massage it.

The above caught my eye. I've been experimenting with radical honesty ever since a particularly bad drug experience a few years back, and it has its benefits and drawbacks. As liberating as it is--and it really is liberating, though it's not always a cakewalk--the hardest part is often figuring out when it is and isn't appropriate to volunteer information. Really, I guess mine's a modified version of radical honesty: occasionally keeping things to myself isn't off-limits, I just make a point of trying never to lie whenever I do give out information. That's not to say I have a perfect track record, but I still try.

Also, even if this were a good idea and were possible (i.e. which of two vacillating, ambivalent opinions is the "truth"?), it still wouldn't work. A liar in the land of radical honesty would be king.

Not true, because liars are pretty easy to spot, once you become better acquainted with the truth. Lies always eventually come unraveled anyway, because they require so much intentional effort to maintain. Truth is the path of least resistance.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:58 AM on September 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Revealing your every motive just seems like justification for being a jerk, while gaining the moral high ground. "Well, it's the truth! how dare you get annoyed at my honesty!".

perhaps a worthwhile change would be radical honesty with ourselves. keep the filter between brain and mouth, but admit to ourselves our motives for action.
posted by dubold at 7:00 AM on September 5, 2007 [15 favorites]


I got halfway through this article and came to the conclusion that the subject was a huckster and the author was a douche and then I quit reading.
posted by ND¢ at 7:02 AM on September 5, 2007 [7 favorites]


Radical Honesty: Psychotherapists who have been married five times and live in the wilderness in houses they built themselves and who run workshops involving a day of total nudity should never have their opinions given any merit, should never be taken seriously, have hurt countless more people it is even theoretically possible for them to have helped, and should probably just do the world a favor and kill themselves.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:03 AM on September 5, 2007 [9 favorites]


Lies always eventually come unraveled anyway...

We saw how that played out in the impeachment and eventual war crimes trials of Bush and Cheney.

But I was actually talking about smaller stuff. If everyone else is being radically honest and insulting someone and then I lie and say no, I don't think those shoes don't make you look fat, they are going to be putty in my hands.
posted by DU at 7:03 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wonderful.

Another excuse for grown men and women to act like toddlers.

Just what this country needs.
posted by jason's_planet at 7:03 AM on September 5, 2007 [11 favorites]


There's a difference between "lying all the time" and "not sharing every single thought that ever enters one's head."
posted by pineapple at 7:04 AM on September 5, 2007 [17 favorites]


I stuck my dick in the mashed potatoes.
posted by OmieWise at 7:04 AM on September 5, 2007 [9 favorites]


Seriously, the whole thing seems to misunderstand the premise of society.
posted by OmieWise at 7:04 AM on September 5, 2007 [6 favorites]


Lies, truth-- an asshole is still an asshole.
posted by No-sword at 7:04 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I thought this was an interesting article, but I don't have anything interesting to say about it.
posted by languagehat at 7:05 AM on September 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


I find your presentation a bit overtly gimmicky, and only clicked into the thread because we're friends. I opened the article to make sure I understood the joke, but did not read it.
posted by cortex at 7:06 AM on September 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


I stuck my dick in the mashed potatoes.

i buttered the mashed potatoes with butter from a herpes infected cow
posted by pyramid termite at 7:06 AM on September 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Seriously, the whole thing seems to misunderstand the premise of society.

Huh? It understands that lies are a basic premise of society, but it thinks society would be better off without them. Might be true, but we'll never know.
posted by languagehat at 7:06 AM on September 5, 2007


I didn't think the article was particularly interesting, and I think it might have been based on an episode of Seinfeld or some other similarly forgetful sitcom.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:07 AM on September 5, 2007


The idea is interesting but just a little too revolutionary for me. If I didn't lie I wouldn't be able to lead the life I wanted to!
posted by liquorice at 7:09 AM on September 5, 2007


I prefer the Dice Man.

But pretty interesting. Childlike truth, asshole truth and honesty.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:10 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


This article was really good! Great post!

I'm not sure if I really understood it, though.
posted by turaho at 7:11 AM on September 5, 2007


I walked away from that article chanting too long, didn't read; too long, didn't read.

But I came into the thread to snark anyway.

i buttered the mashed potatoes with butter from a herpes infected cow

I can't believe that's butter.
posted by geminus at 7:12 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Radical honesty is impossible as long as people use sloppy or inaccurate language.

Monju-bosatsu, it was your phrase 'similarly forgetful sitcom' which prompted this comment. While I have no reason to slight you, it would be dishonest of me to conceal my irritation at your confusion of 'forgetful' for 'forgetable'.
posted by MinPin at 7:13 AM on September 5, 2007


I just wee'd a little in my pants.
posted by Jofus at 7:13 AM on September 5, 2007


Metafilter: The thrill of inappropriate candor.
posted by localroger at 7:13 AM on September 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


MinPin can't spell 'forgettable'.
posted by MinPin at 7:15 AM on September 5, 2007


I enjoyed the article. Sometimes I do the radical honesty thing, it is one of the reasons people think I am an asshole.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:16 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


After I post a comment that I think people will like, I keep hitting refresh to see if someone's favorited it.
posted by billysumday at 7:16 AM on September 5, 2007 [24 favorites]


I stuck my dick in the mashed potatoes.

"Do the mashed potato" always confused me as a lyric. The scales have fallen from my eyes.
posted by vbfg at 7:16 AM on September 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


I think (bearing in mind that I only got halfway through this article) that this philosophy is based on the idea that one's self is so important and valuable that it just has to be shared with everyone. The fact of the matter is that about 90% of the thoughts that I have everyday are pretty much worthless to anyone but myself and there is no need to share them. The idea that we are all special snowflakes with incredibly interesting and vibrant interior lives that just must be shared is bullshit. Here is my truth movement: you are a goddamn adult. You can decide for yourself when you should share something and when you shouldn't.
posted by ND¢ at 7:18 AM on September 5, 2007 [8 favorites]


Is there anything duller or more boorish than someone who tells the truth all the time? And, by "truth," I mean expresses whatever insipid, subjective, and highly creepy thought is currently prancing around at the very tippy top of their alcohol-soaked gray matter?

There's a question we ask in journalism, which is, does the need to know outweigh the damage it might cause? Does the need to know outweight the violation of privacy it would cause? For the most part, my need to know is not outweighed by the fact that I, for the most part, don't care what some babbling prick thinks the truth is.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:18 AM on September 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


I enjoyed the article. Sometimes I do the radical honesty thing, it is one of the reasons people think I am an asshole.

I think it's considerably more common for people to do the radical asshole thing and have it mistaken for honesty.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:18 AM on September 5, 2007 [7 favorites]


Honesty is impossible because the only truths in life are ineffable.
There, I've said it.
posted by Abiezer at 7:21 AM on September 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


I fell off my chair laughing about halfway through. Honestly. Radically. It's funny because it's true.
posted by rokusan at 7:23 AM on September 5, 2007


I think, like a lot of these radical ideas, that the basis of these is an irritation with a trend in society. Only fruitcakes have the courage to say it out loud but, being fruitcakes, take it too far and are easily attacked whilst ignoring the central premise.

The trend that annoys me that struck a chord here is 'fake' people. They irritate the living shit out of me. The sort of people that always tell you what they want to here, or behave how they think you want them to, or never say anything because they are worried that you won't like them. They'll lie about themselves so as to not offend you. They'll modify and lie about their personality for an 'easy life'. They'll also worry while they do it way too much.

People need backbone. People need to be themselves a bit more, and will (in my unhumble I'M FUCKING RIGHT opinion) be better people, and happier for it.

People that worry about what other people think the whole time shouldn't have to be. The pussy footing method of societal interaction (that is epitomised, to me, by the 'little white lie' aspect of society) is something that we would well do without.

So. In summary. Basic concept of being more honest? Good. People that know me already know how much I prescribe to that.

Honesty at all costs? No. Too far the other way. If I had to be totally honest, no girl would ever sleep with me, as I am so bastard perfect I find fault with everyone. Dammit. And I want my bits and pieces to continue getting wet as much as the next man.
posted by Brockles at 7:24 AM on September 5, 2007 [6 favorites]


I thought the article was amusing. I think that the guy is obviously a shyster, but an amusing one and I have a begrudging admiration for him. Whilst quite a few people that I know think that I can be brutally honest in truth I'm too much of a wimp to practice this kind of honesty in everyday life.
posted by ob at 7:25 AM on September 5, 2007


The sort of people that always tell you what they want to here

Damn this lack of an edit (allied with my total inability to proof read, even with a preview pane that a one eyed retard could spot)

Should be 'The sort of people that always tell you what they think you want to hear'.

Bah.
posted by Brockles at 7:27 AM on September 5, 2007


I skipped around until I understood what the article was about. Then I popped in here, looked at the first couple of comments to see if anyone had been honest about doing the same as I did, and skipped down here to this box and wrote this.
posted by poppo at 7:27 AM on September 5, 2007


I like pie. A lot. Like, so much that I think about pie when I'm fucking my pets.
posted by Mister_A at 7:28 AM on September 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


Dostoyevsky did this years ago, and in a much more interesting way, in his novel The Idiot.
posted by Postroad at 7:29 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


The truth of our lives is increasingly being exposed, both voluntarily (MySpace pages, transparent business transactions) and involuntarily.

So, Myspace, that website where old geezers pretend to be young Marines, housewives take the identity of their daughters to have online affairs and policemen pretend to be children sending nude pictures of themselves to catch predators is radically honest? C'mon. And, transparent business transactions? C'mon.
posted by micayetoca at 7:29 AM on September 5, 2007


I liked this article better when it was Three's Company episode number 102.
posted by papercake at 7:31 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


What? You were all lying all this time? I feel like a fool.
posted by srboisvert at 7:34 AM on September 5, 2007


I can't smack my own ass and I didn't read the whole article cause there is just waaaay too much stuff on the net to read!
posted by doctorschlock at 7:34 AM on September 5, 2007


Another excuse for grown men and women to act like toddlers.

Maybe that isn't too bad of an idea. At least with my step-children, they speak their mind. And the thrill, as Blanton describes it, comes from watching their minds formulate their view of this world. Or at least the world they are living in.

Kindergarten can teach the rest of us a lot.

Too bad we forgot what it was like to be a child once.
posted by coachfortner at 7:38 AM on September 5, 2007


"If you think it, say it."

Funny, I often notice people who act this way, albeit unconsciously. Mostly packs of fifteen-year-olds on the subway and the occasional coworker. Is this so radical?

Living without the burden of any unexpressed thoughts seems exhausting to me. The ability to lie out loud and to myself provides no end of rest and mercy in my life-- most of which made necessary from having to suffer so many loud obnoxious people. I LIKE having private mental space, and will lie my ass off to keep it, if that's what it takes.
posted by hermitosis at 7:41 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I make semi-amusing comments in hopes people will favorite me thus giving me my only positive feedback for an otherwise pathetic life.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:41 AM on September 5, 2007 [11 favorites]


People need to be themselves a bit more, and will (in my unhumble I'M FUCKING RIGHT opinion) be better people, and happier for it.

People don't need to be themselves. That would be a disaster. They need to be the person that I tell them they should be.

I should be able to tell everybody else their faults, but nobody better tell me anything about mine -- not that I have any, of course.

And that 'how I make you feel' thing?

Can it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:42 AM on September 5, 2007


This isn't just about being honest though, this goes way beyond that. You can be honest and not say everything that pops into your head. Omitting the truth isn't lying, it's just keeping your damn mouth shut once in a while.

Like, right now, I could tell you guys that I think most of you are a bunch of middle-aged farts who need favourites to feel validated and get off on feeling superior to the rest of the internets. But I won't because I'm nice.
posted by liquorice at 7:42 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I got through the first paragraph before I got bored. Douchebags and assholes have been using "keepin' it real/tellin' it like it is" to justify their bigmouthed stupidity for decades. This hack isn't bringing anything new to the table, and like dubold said, the world'd be a better place if those twats were honest with themselves first and realized no one gives a shit.

Also:
Homer: Heh heh heh, from now on, I'm gonna be just like Krusty and tell it like it is. Marge, you're getting a little fat around the old thighs!
Bart: Dad!
Homer: You too, Bart!
Marge: Oh, knock it off, Homer, you're the fattest one in the car!
Homer: [shocked, hurt] You didn't have to tell it like it is, Marge!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:44 AM on September 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


The "Radical Honesty" movement as portrayed in the article smacks of a "look at me!" mentality, and I think society would be better served if people shut the fuck up once in awhile.
posted by desjardins at 7:44 AM on September 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Kindergarten can teach the rest of us a lot.

Too bad we forgot what it was like to be a child once.


I completely agree with the exact opposite of this.
posted by ND¢ at 7:46 AM on September 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


Like, right now, I could tell you guys that I think most of you are a bunch of middle-aged farts who need favourites to feel validated and get off on feeling superior to the rest of the internets. But I won't because I'm nice.

I won't because it doesn't gain me anything.
posted by desjardins at 7:46 AM on September 5, 2007


Lame article, genuine "radical honesty" would see you incarcerated and charged with felonies - not a visit to yet another backwoods new age shill to talk about ass picking, as it were. Radical embodies such novelty as a framing device in this masturbatory exposition and little more. To paraphrase:

1. I desire uninterrupted positive sequences of events that support my lifestyle decisions.
1A. I desire the capacity to fuck everything possible without incurring terms defined in the next section.
2. I desire to avoid negative events or repercussions related to any of my actions.


That's far from a "radical" thought process, even for a goddamn caveman.
posted by prostyle at 7:47 AM on September 5, 2007


This is crap for the following reasons:

1. RH gives people power over you. They can demand your more private details and openly insult you. It will easily be turned into a game with the socially savvy having free reign over everyone else except those they target will not have any defenses.

2. Politeness and lies keep conflict down.

3. RH happens all the time, usually by drunks, with typical results.

4. Even the father of RH is too much of a coward to pay his taxes to speak truth to power. He cannot use RH to authority figures in the government but compels us to use it on the authority figures in our lives. Coward and a hypocrite.

5. Getting things off your chest is nice, but there's a real vanity to candor. RH might be, as the author guessed, just a clever mating tactic and scam.

6. There's a real difference between lies and privacy. Not to mention blurting out random things like we're robots pretending to be human. "I LIFE ORANGES AND WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH YOUR SISTER. BEEP BEEP."

To be fair, its an interesting social experiment and opens ones eyes to what its like living in a human society, but as a cure-all and as a new mode of communication, its pretty lacking.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:47 AM on September 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


If RH were to take root and be thoroughly enforced, I believe that both the murder rate and prison populations would skyrocket for several years, and we'd eventually be left with a society composed of nothing but Ned Flanderses.

Sounds like a vision of hell to me.

And by the way, your ass does look fat in those pants.
posted by psmealey at 7:50 AM on September 5, 2007


I liked this article better when it was City of Truth.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:56 AM on September 5, 2007


I believe that both the murder rate and prison populations would skyrocket for several years

I'd like to think (to paraphrase some comment re: telepathy that I can no longer source) that we'd see an uptick of bloody noses and then everyone would grow a thicker skin and we'd be back at equilibrium pretty quickly.
posted by cortex at 7:59 AM on September 5, 2007


I really hate when people comment with only one sentence per paragraph, or maybe two short ones. It's monopolizing the space in the thread; very seldom is what you have to say worth more than one paragraph. I think you're doing it because you're just either (1) trying to be dramatic, (2) assuming that we can't understand your point if you don't put blue space between the sentences so we can think hard about them, or (3) a high school journalism student. Also, I went back on preview and deleted three curse words to tone down my rhetoric. I don't want anyone to get mad at me, or at least not anyone whose opinion I care about.

Does my ass make me look fat?
posted by goatdog at 8:01 AM on September 5, 2007


Didn't the Thermians already try this idea, with DISASTEROUS results?!

A few random notes:
"Honesty without compassion is cruelty" - some smart guy who I can't be bothered to google ATM.

This man is an expert on how to maintain marriages that have all the longevity of a house fly.
posted by eurasian at 8:02 AM on September 5, 2007


A few thoughts:

1) I have no problem with people who are honest with their opinions when I ask for their opinions, or when I have direct interactions with them. Bein radically honest with strangers for no reason is just being a jerk.

2) I've met people who strive to be like this guy, and the thing is, they get off on saying things that other people normally wouldn't. It starts to snowball, and pretty soon they're self-censoring anything that sounds half-way normal: everything out of their mouth has to be a soundbite: "This coffee tastes like SHIT!" No, no it really doesn't. It's just weak coffee. You're exaggerating again, because you think people expect it, or you like doing it.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:02 AM on September 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


Also, may I note, for the sake of Radical Honesty, that I'm exactly the type of person Brockles described. Basically Wormtongue without the bad hair.

I feel so liberated!
posted by eurasian at 8:03 AM on September 5, 2007


I liked this article better when it was a crappy Jim Carrey movie.

And by the way, your ass does look fat in those pants.

"Honey, do these pants make me look fat?"

"No your big butt makes you look fat"

I think I will pass on the radical honesty thing.
posted by TedW at 8:04 AM on September 5, 2007


I found the article enjoyable. I liked the writer's style.

I found the subject amusing but also somewhat thought provoking.

I have been living a "lite" version of this philosophy practically my entire adult life. Close to what some of you above are saying: being honest, but muting some of the stream of consciousness stuff. But not a lot.

Basically, I believe in being honest all of the time, but not purposefully offensive or hurtful. Responding to someone's question about their clothes with "No, I really don't like that blouse" is perfectly honest, but it doesn't require "That blouse makes you look like a prostitute catering to migrant farm workers". One is honest and possibly helpful, the other is being an asshole and needlessly hurtful.

I think that's what many of you in this thread are confusing... you can be honest without, necessarily, being an asshole. Sentiment and intent goes a very, very long way.

I have someone at least once a week tell me I am the most open and honest person they've ever known. That makes me proud, probably more proud than it should, and encourages me to continue to be open and honest.

People who like it tend to gravitate towards me, and I form real relationships with those people.

People who are gladhanders and fakes, they can't stand open honesty like that, they scatter like cockroaches from the kitchen light, and, thankfully, I don't have to interact with them much.

And to answer the question looming, yes, I am this way at work as well. It has resulted in me becoming chief executive at the last two companies I have worked for. And I don't feel guilty writing this at work, considering I am just now eating my now cold breakfast at my desk, will probably not take lunch, and I will be here till about 7pm tonight. I give much more than I get to the company, even though I am only accountable to a board that meets infrequently and whose members have virtually no idea of what I do. And yet I still overwork and over-personally-invest. And I don't really know why, as it runs completely counter to my advice to most other people.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:04 AM on September 5, 2007 [11 favorites]


Seems refreshing to me. His bit about the alienation of modern life seemed to hit home. What good is company if it doesn't seem true?

I agree with comments above that RH wouldn't mean license to speak every thought that comes to mind, but disagree with the opinion that RH gives other people power over you, by forcing you to disclose. Couldn't you simply say: "I don't want to tell you that?"

Again, the alienation piece, this sense that it's not possible to really get to know people, because they aren't being honest with you (or really, themselves). Honesty with self would be a start, but it's hard to live with that tension, if you aren't allowing honesty with others.

Dishonesty feels like an enabler for our own low views of self. "If I told the truth, no one would want to be with/sleep with me." It seems more likely that truth telling would mean some/many people wouldn't want to be with me, but certain people would love being with me. And isn't that what we want anyways?
posted by bullitt 5 at 8:05 AM on September 5, 2007


Lastly, this is about as anti-intellectual as you can get. Essentially youre telling people to let their id be in control. RH happens all the time, we usually call it right-wing AM radio.

"We gotta do something about those thieving (insert minority here)."

"I'm angry and we should drop some bombs on them."

"We should lock up the fags, jews, protestants, etc etc"

"Burning the flag should be a capital crime!"

Imagine those voices times 300 million. Think they'll sit and listen your your logic and context? RH would create a society of angry little children expressing their basest desires. Not a superhuman truth telling contest. The government buildings would burn first then the universities.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:05 AM on September 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


"That blouse makes you look like a prostitute catering to migrant farm workers".

Am I the only one that think this sounds super hot?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:06 AM on September 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


I just pictured someone with a fruit hat, like Carmen Miranda.

[PROBABLY RACIST].
posted by ND¢ at 8:08 AM on September 5, 2007


I really hate when people comment with only one sentence per paragraph, or maybe two short ones.

I really hate when people comment on other people's commenting styles. It suggests a limited intellect. Or small penis.
posted by psmealey at 8:08 AM on September 5, 2007


In the land of the Radical Truth Tellers, the man who can lie and keep secrets is King.
posted by chimaera at 8:09 AM on September 5, 2007


I read the article very carefully because it was interesting and funny.

I pretty much just skimmed the comments in this thread.
posted by felix betachat at 8:10 AM on September 5, 2007


I liked this article better when it was a minor subplot in a forgotten novel by an obscure nineteenth-century European author whose name you pretend to find familiar but in fact you've never heard before.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:15 AM on September 5, 2007


Everyone who's ever done mushrooms has come up with the exact same theory.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:15 AM on September 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


I read the whole thing, becoming increasingly convinced that both the author and the subject were tiresome in doses longer than about three sentences. I then felt rather smug that my two-line philosophy on human interaction is far superior, even if I'm too much of a pussy to follow it all the time.

1) Shut the fuck up, nobody cares.
2) If it's important, fucking say it.

I hate, hate, did I mention hate? hate the smarmy political passive voice "mistakes were made" cockshite that infests most interactions. Tell me I'm an asshole who screwed up, I'll fix it and we can all move on. But no, instead we have to go six hours in three meetings without anyone actually saying what's going on because someone might be fucking offended.
posted by Skorgu at 8:15 AM on September 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


L’Étranger by Albert Camus

This whole line of comments and my life in particular is absurd.
posted by coachfortner at 8:15 AM on September 5, 2007


thanks for the post. I've been trying for years to convince people to be honest at least on occasion and have been able to draw out quite a few things that I thought a lot of people believed but would never say. But in the end it always stops once they return to dealing with others. Myself I take a stance from somewhere in the article that I don't feel like going back and finding (something about Anne Frank and Nazis and stuff)...I'm honest up to the point where it threatens my or someone else's safety or freedom. And I think if I ever was in one of those situations where, say a child was dying and asked if there was a God, I'd probably lie there too since nothing positive comes of telling the truth. But I pull no punches when it comes to cracking down on offending people.

One part I didn't see if it said he proposed or not but I expect is not part of his ideal, once you've started being honest, next you should learn to fix the characteristics and opinions in yourself that are wrong instead of just stopping at admitting them. Seems obvious but I get this notion it's not there.
posted by kigpig at 8:18 AM on September 5, 2007


At an impressionable age, my first girlfriend gave me a copy of The Fountainhead and spouted the same type of stuff. She dumped me and I kinda took up her point-of-view because it seemed to be the most well thought out one I'd ever known. If you've ever argued with an objectivist, it's tough. I submitted slowly, but I did. It was so rational, I couldn't see how to deny it. It's taken me years to clean that from my system.

A few weeks ago she was on the phone with me talking about how her relationship was going bad. "He hurt my feelings when he was siding with the other person in this story I was telling. I was feeling vulnerable. I resented him a bit for that" was a close neighbor with "Well, I said what I said, if he got hurt that's his fault. He shouldn't be so sensitive. I was being honest."

I made her go back and forth from Comment One to Comment Two until she realized that total honesty creates a situation where everybody has to be on their guard at all times, lest an insulting comment come their way. And that a life time of living this way has lead to isolation and lack of connection. That being honest isn't about being strong, it's about being weak. So weak you can't even care about somebody else. So weak you can't even throw your figurative self on the figurative grenade that is your dislike of their new haircut. She gasped, because it was so obvious and she had been so oblivious.

To be honest, it felt like a victory I'd been waiting for for years.
posted by Brainy at 8:22 AM on September 5, 2007 [7 favorites]


Radical Honesty is a praxis. It doesn't have a value in itself (a mental disorder could cause such honesty). Radical Honesty just gets rid of any moral debate with a rule. But everytime that someone ponders whether he/she should tell the truth, that person must consider what value is linked with the act about to be done : telling the truth or lying. Which one is linked to the highest value in a given situation ?
Nobody needs a recipe to know when to lie or to tell the truth. That's what morality is about.
posted by nicolin at 8:23 AM on September 5, 2007


Also, the reason over-the-top truth telling probably gets women into bed is some combination of flattery and confidence/bravado. You know, in case that wasn't totally obvious.
posted by Brainy at 8:24 AM on September 5, 2007


I really hate when people comment with only one sentence per paragraph, or maybe two short ones.

I really hate when people comment on other people's commenting styles. It suggests a limited intellect. Or small penis.


I hate when people bitch about "taking up too much space" in a medium that is both essentially free and infinite. I also suspend this belief when it comes to Ethereal Bligh, since that guy could talk (type) the smile off of a crocodile. I sometimes think he's being paid by the word.

I also hate when people assign every grievance to having a small penis. My penis is on the small side, yet I have no difficulty sleeping repeatedly with most other guys' wives. Wanna know who is radically honest? A cheating wife... she will tell you things about her fucktard husband that make you absolutely cringe.

I also have lied somewhere in this post, but I get more utility from letting it go unknown than explicitly saying where.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:27 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Kindergarten can teach the rest of us a lot.

Everything worthwhile I learned in Kindergarten. That's why I am now a professional finger-painter. This one's a moo-cow.
posted by Sparx at 8:29 AM on September 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


So, in summation, Get Off My Lawn.
posted by ninjew at 8:33 AM on September 5, 2007


6. There's a real difference between lies and privacy. Not to mention blurting out random things like we're robots pretending to be human. "I LIFE ORANGES AND WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH YOUR SISTER. BEEP BEEP."

To me, this gets right to the heart of it. Keeping things to oneself is not inherently dishonest, as no one is in anyway obligated (unless by virtue of playing a particular role in society with special obligations) to divulge everything they might think or do. However, I've found that only offering honest information (to the best of my ability) whenever I do choose to offer information has been a huge psychological relief. It's also allowed me to see first hand the corrupting effects of even petty dishonesty.

Lies always eventually come unraveled anyway...

We saw how that played out in the impeachment and eventual war crimes trials of Bush and Cheney.


Impeachment and war crimes trials, while nice, would ultimately just be another layer of human artifice, a largely formal gesture. The reality of the sociological and historical consequences of Bush and Cheney's lies can't be evaded. There will be a hell of a lot more political turmoil, bloodshed and social unrest over the coming years as a direct consequence of their lies. I didn't say that the truth necessarily imposes some kind of cosmic justice on liars, just that the lies always come unraveled.

There are adepts who know how to lie and forestall or avoid the personal consequences of those lies. But they're the exception. And they have to work their lying asses off to do it. So why not just keep things simple in the first place? For example, if you lie and tell your girlfriend you still love her to spare her feelings, eventually, you'll hurt her feelings at least as much or more as the resentment you feel toward her grows over time, so you haven't really accomplished anything by lying other than to postpone the reality (okay, maybe you manage to get laid a couple more times, too).

Liars hinder our ability to correctly apprehend reality, essentially denying us the freedom to act according to our own best interests; and since reality can be dangerous, even fatal, if incorrectly apprehended, liars do us all harm. Not to mention, when lying becomes too commonplace, cracks start to open in the foundation of trust needed to maintain a functioning, sustainable society and paranoia becomes rampant.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:36 AM on September 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


There's something sociopathic about this, and manipulative, but I can't put my finger on it.
posted by craniac at 8:41 AM on September 5, 2007


There are adepts who know how to lie and forestall or avoid the personal consequences of those lies. But they're the exception.

But it's an easy skill to learn. And it's a skill that's massively valorized in our culture. And there don't need to be all that many of them to really make life hell for the rest of us.

The problem with RH is that it's so easily subverted by liars. Think about it: If everyone is supposedly RH, then anyone who lies has an instant and substantial advantage in any contest of wits. They just have to know how to use it.

Anyway, I've never met anyone that I thought was an honest practitioner of RH. They all seemed to me to be narcissists who enjoyed justifying their self-obsession by claiming it was normal. Brainy's comparison to Objectivism is very apt in that regard.
posted by lodurr at 8:43 AM on September 5, 2007


People that know me already know how much I prescribe to that.

Um, Mr. Bastard Perfect, sir? I think you mean 'subscribe' there. I'm just sayin'.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:45 AM on September 5, 2007


I really liked Blanton's first book.
"Today's liberating insight is tomorrow's prison of bullshit."

I even went to his one-day workshop when he strolled into town, years ago. Less cultish than your average real-estate seminar, apart from one session of what seemed like group hypnosis. (He likes Werner Erhard.) There was, of course, some urging near the end to go to the next, longer, and pricier workshop, but not a hard sell.

That came later, when his second book came out, and he urged everyone on the mailing list to go out and buy multiple copies of it so the bookstores would mistake it for a best-seller.
That seemed to me.. I dunno, duplicitous? Less than honest?

It's hard to deny that having to keep one eye on your cover story all the time is exhausting, but I'm not sure it's the primary source of all human misery, as Blanton claims, or that he's really figured a way out. I'd put him in the category of "sincere charlatan": peddling a brand of bullshit that does actually help some people.

Maybe the only really remarkable thing about him is that he doesn't live and work in California.
posted by Paddle to Sea at 8:45 AM on September 5, 2007


One of my friends instituted a policy at their office where they would only laugh at things that were actually funny. No polite laughter. It lasted about a day.
posted by true at 8:46 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't know why, but when I pictured Blanton in my mind, I kept seeing him as Hunter S. Thompson.

Anybody else?
posted by Afroblanco at 8:48 AM on September 5, 2007


I am totally, way-the-fuck-out of my intellectual league on metafilter, but I like to come here to pat people much smarter than me, who share my views, on the back.
posted by tehloki at 8:51 AM on September 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Wow, I'm almost the complete opposite of this. My public identity is basically a web of lies. I don't think there's anyone in my life whose knowledge of me is more than sixty to seventy percent based on the truth. It's quite lonely.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 8:52 AM on September 5, 2007


I write short but have a fattie!
posted by doctorschlock at 8:57 AM on September 5, 2007


I farted while reading this thread looking for fart jokes.
posted by Mcable at 8:57 AM on September 5, 2007


I also really, really wish I could favorite Mcable up there, but, you know.
posted by tehloki at 9:00 AM on September 5, 2007


Um, Mr. Bastard Perfect, sir? I think you mean 'subscribe' there. I'm just sayin'.

Not really. It still works. Just makes me a touch more dictatorial. Which is fine by me.

prescribe (GIVE RULE) Show phonetics
verb [T] FORMAL
to tell someone what they must have or do; to give something as a rule:
Penalties for not paying taxes are prescribed by law.
[+ that] The law prescribes that all children must go to school.
[+ question word] Grammatical rules prescribe how words may be used together.


That was a lucky escape, eh? Imagine if I'd fucked up and said 'imbibe' or something. Then I'd be royally screwed and no mistake.

So I'm still perfect then. Good-oh.

/oblivious to any faults that he can't wriggle out of
posted by Brockles at 9:02 AM on September 5, 2007


"We gotta do something about those thieving (insert minority here)."

"I'm angry and we should drop some bombs on them."

"We should lock up the fags, jews, protestants, etc etc"

"Burning the flag should be a capital crime!"


Aren't you confusing honesty with over-simplification here?
posted by biffa at 9:03 AM on September 5, 2007


You're highly reactive, you're combustible, and your electrons are unpaired. On the other hand, your homolytic cleavage is mesmerizing.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:06 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I read the article and then tried to think of something funny to say when commenting.

I considered saying that I was pinching my nipples, but then rejected it because, after all, I wasn't pinching my nipples.
posted by jasper411 at 9:06 AM on September 5, 2007


I would like to have tea and bourbon with Ms. Manners and Mr. Blanton.
posted by kozad at 9:09 AM on September 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Most people cannot possibly both be honest and say whatever's on their mind all the time, since so many of their thoughts are not honest.

To thine own self be true.
posted by sfenders at 9:10 AM on September 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


I liked the writer's style and the first paragraph, as well as the section where he describes not liking to leave the house. I empathized with that.

I have no intention of being radically honest because I think the word "radical" is there as a pretense to allow people to be total asshats and then use, "Hey, I'm just being honest!" as an excuse.

I am almost certain that someone on Metafilter will come along and once again question my intelligence because he or she disagrees with what I have just written, and even if I think that person is a complete moron, I will feel worse about myself afterward.
posted by misha at 9:11 AM on September 5, 2007


A small derail:
Kindergarten can teach the rest of us a lot.

That isn't kindergarten anymore, that's preschool. My daughter started kindergarten and the whole pecking order thing starts in kindergarten now, it's making me sick.

I just kept wondering about kindness. It isn't necessary to lie to be kind. (most of the time) You just choose carefully what you say (not your ass looks fat in those pants, but maybe chartreuse stovepipe trousers with raspberry horizontal stripes are really hard to pull off). And truly my husband tells me after a particularly intense discussion "I am out of words." Doesn't bother me, he has fewer of them than I do in general. Doesn't mean he doesn't find what I'm saying important, just that he can't listen anymore, his head is full.

Blanton is gratuitously harsh. It's unnecessary. I much prefer Emily Post. I would rather care for other's feelings first. You can have integrity AND be kind.
posted by pywacket at 9:15 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just keep your mouth shut most of the time.

Problem solved.
posted by milarepa at 9:16 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


This sort of reminds me of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, or has someone already mentioned that?

We could all use a dose of this from time to time but a straight diet would be as soul killing as constantly lying.
posted by ranchocalamari at 9:16 AM on September 5, 2007


damn dirty ape:

You're claiming that right wing radio opinions are people telling the truth which I can't prove but based on their web of lies about studies and facts I sincerely doubt. However, undoubtedly a lot of them have horrific beliefs. I think if they were forced to defend why they have them by other truth tellers they'd be quickly shot down. If they continued to hold them they would be ignored.

the liars:

note that next time you argue with someone here, all they need to do is point back at this thread as evidence that you are implicating yourself as a liar and your remarks can be summarily dismissed as probable lies. Not that I suspect liars care about this sort of thing.

no one in particular:

It is functionally impossible to say everything on our mind due to finite time considerations so if that is what this guy is after he's an idiot. I grant that he could just be an idiot, but giving the benefit of the doubt that he's not, there's clearly a censor of what is important to say. I suspect based on the suggestions that it revolves around the things that we prevent ourselves from saying since we feel it will make others feel bad or will not benefit us.

There's a few problems with refraining from saying these. One, take that heading "I think you're fat". Well clearly there's a different problem here. Thinking someone is fat doesn't have any inherent value judgment. But in reality they will probably be treated to some degree worse than others, they will be less likely to find mates, they will be invited to less social engagements. Now there's bad people who will admit this and still treat them worse anyway. But these people already have little problem saying "I think you're fat". It's the rest of the assholes who deny that they judge people because of their looks that will claim righteousness while partaking in the very problem. So for instance I can admit, I don't find overweight people attractive. Yet I can realize a lot of others don't too and a moral response is to deliberately go out of my way to bias my interactions against this.
posted by kigpig at 9:19 AM on September 5, 2007


I love metafilter dearly and it has inspired me to knit gifts for my friends. I have fears that my head is too big and misshapen to knit myself any hats, though.

[sigh]

There. I said it.
posted by cowbellemoo at 9:19 AM on September 5, 2007


i have a fish. in my pants. i once let Ynoxas lick it.
posted by quonsar at 9:20 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I read the article and I liked it, but I'm annoyed that the whole sentence was a hyperlink. Whole-sentence hyperlinks are unattractive. And I still think that single links do not make for the best FPPs, even though this one is better than many multi-link FPPs.

Also, I read about five of the comments on this thread, then decided I didn't care what any of you had to say. I just came in here to talk a bunch of nonsense.

I have more to say, but it's wisest to keep your mouth shut sometimes -- see, not lying, just not saying anything -- and besides, none of you lot would listen anyway.
posted by brina at 9:21 AM on September 5, 2007


you can see more Blanton in episode 5 of season 1 of This American Life. while you're at it, watch the rest of the season because it's such a phenomenally great show.
posted by mcsweetie at 9:23 AM on September 5, 2007


I too want to be in this loooong thread, but alas I have nothing really really important to say, or anything of relevance, so I'll hum the rest...Tra la la la (no that's singing)
Hmmmmmmmmmm!
posted by doctorschlock at 9:24 AM on September 5, 2007


I'm not convinced that not saying something is actually honest; a sin of omission rather than commission.
posted by biffa at 9:24 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I read the article. In its entirety, waiting for it to show something unpredictable (my bad).

But (heh) got bored halfway through the comment thread.
posted by ikebowen at 9:28 AM on September 5, 2007


I was once on a date with someone I really liked. Really liked. The first time I met him, he was drunk in a jazz bar. Very drunk. I ignored him that night, but I looked past it and agreed to date him later, because I could see he would be a decent guy when sober. Which he really was. What attracted me was his honesty.

One night, we're canoodling and laughing about how drunk he was when we met, that he was just out of his mind. I was teasing him about it and about how I was trying to avoid him that night because he kept saying inappropriate things and was clearly completely plastered. Then he said, "I know. You know why? You know what I thought?" I said no. He said, "I thought you were a prostitute."

Yeah, so that took the fun edge off of the date in record time.

There's a difference between being honest and rudeness. Honesty shouldn't mean you throw manners aside & that other people's opinions of you don't matter. He kept saying, "Oh, jesus. I shouldn't have told you that. Man, people just shouldn't be honest. I'm so sorry. Please don't hate me." But it really broke my opinion of him & my comfort with him when he said that, because it made him seem really skeezy to me.

I love honesty when it serves a purpose to open up communication with others. But to just use it as an excuse to be able to get away with saying rude shit to other people without them being allowed to get mad? That's wrong.

And yes, I charged him $300 for the date. (I knew someone was going to go there so I'm nipping it in the bud.)
posted by miss lynnster at 9:30 AM on September 5, 2007


I'm better known than I let on.

In a perfect world, I'd have regular sexual relations with other men.

Pussy makes me feel even more like a superhero than I already do. (Can I say pussy here? Well, whatever it is that you call what I call pussy then. Because whatever it is, it's so great that everytime I happen upon some, it's as if I re-discovered God and quantum physics and Saturday morning television and rap music and good white chocolate candy combined.)

The Deej is funnier - like by far - than anyone else here on MeFi [though what Armitage Shanks said after what delmoi said had me crying...] but he's probably not as fastforward in real life, and he's compensating, but I hope I'm wrong.
posted by humannaire at 9:32 AM on September 5, 2007


I learned that being honest (not volunteering TMI, just basic fundamental honesty) is the best way to go about things back in grammar school. Is this really so groundbreaking -- or more importantly, is honesty really so rare?

I've often looked at it like corporations look at sustainability; you could claim you're doing it for altruistic reasons, but nobody would believe you anyway. You're doing it to (a) make money, and (b) make sure you still have a market for your product and the materials to make your product down the road. Similarly, I don't tell the truth because I'm a saint; I do it because (a) it's much easier than trying to remember the lies you've told, and (b) I've always been rewarded for it, because my underlying motives are generally good.

Of course, this could all be a lie -- you Skeptical McUntrustingsons must figure that out on your own.
posted by davejay at 9:35 AM on September 5, 2007


Skeptic McDontBelieve?
posted by davejay at 9:37 AM on September 5, 2007


I don't think I'd like hanging around folks who practice Radical Honesty... but they can invite me to their poker night anytime.
posted by Pufferish at 9:38 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


PlayedOut McMemeIsDead?

since we're being radically honest and all
posted by pineapple at 9:39 AM on September 5, 2007


...The crude commercialism of America, its materialising spirit, its indifference to the poetical side of things, and its lack of imagination and of high unattainable ideals, are entirely due to that country having adopted for its national hero a man who, according to his own confession, was incapable of telling a lie, and it is not too much to say that the story of George Washington and the cherry-tree has done more harm, and in a shorter space of time, than any other moral tale in the whole of literature.

— The inimitable Oscar, of course.

Honesty is not synonymous with truth.
posted by Haruspex at 9:40 AM on September 5, 2007


I feel it would be useless to comment in this thread without being radically honest.

I appreciate your posting this article. Most of the posts on MeFi are crap I don't want to read, and those are the good ones; the others are crap I don't want to WATCH. I resent people who throw fifteen youtube links at me and don't tell me why I should watch an hour of TV, something I'd be unlikely to do otherwise.

The more I manage to live my life like this guy Blanton, the happier I become. The best part of it is that when people really get to understand what I like and what I dislike, they'll go out of their way to avoid putting me in a situation where my honesty about the situation would make me be rude. Not only am I happier, but people help me have less reason to be rude. Everyone wins.

Miss Lynnster, why does a guy telling you he thought you were a prostitute make him skeezy? Is it because you detest prostitutes so much that you wouldn't want to go on a date with a man who'd indulge in naughty banter with a prostitute? Is it because he essentially admitted he was thinking about having sex with you from the first moment he met you? Or was it something else?
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:41 AM on September 5, 2007


LUKE
You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my
father.

BEN
You father was seduced by the dark side of
the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker
and became Darth Vader. When that happened,
the good man who was your father was
destroyed. So what I have told you was
true... from a certain point of view.

LUKE (turning away, derisive)
A certain point of view!
posted by camcgee at 9:44 AM on September 5, 2007


And yes, I charged him $300 for the date.

Whore! Whore!!

Wow, this IS fun.
posted by hermitosis at 9:44 AM on September 5, 2007


The biggest lies are the ones we tell ourselves. Radical honesty begins between the ears.

The problem with the premise, is that if most of us lie to ourselves, then we just expect everyone else that we keep close, to go along with our internal lies. In short you almost have to really like lying and storytelling, to like people at all. In fact most of us are living some sort of metaphor, that as a mass movement has nearly destroyed all life on the planet. The big lies are killing us.

I did realize at some point in my life, long ago that I don't like math. I have an inner program, that runs and examines all incoming data. Long ago, I realized that I am not good at conscious math, and telling lies, means I have to run an entire second program, for everyone I know that keeps the info straight regarding what is real, what is pretense, etc.

I learned that I don't have to make comment, on everything that goes on in my head, and I don't have to misrepresent myself to anyone, especially if I didn't make comment in the first place. One of the most entertaining feats of living is watching what other people do, and almost commenting, but not. Then I can watch things unfold. The scene is definitely not me, I can learn what my misconceptions are on a moment to moment basis, depending on what others choose to project, or do.

If someone wants to be a close friend of mine, or is stuck with being family, then I practice soft, but radical honesty without fail, because any thing else, is just too much work. I hardly socialize, certainly not on the basis of socializing because I need to be around people. I have very few friends, but there have been a lot of people that felt I was their friend, since honesty seems to be a rarity, shared in some, lucky, close contacts.
posted by Oyéah at 9:47 AM on September 5, 2007


Miss Lynnster, why does a guy telling you he thought you were a prostitute make him skeezy?

You have to ask why this might bother a lady? C'mon, women are mysterious, but they're not THAT mysterious.
posted by hermitosis at 9:49 AM on September 5, 2007


You can't handle the truth!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:49 AM on September 5, 2007


Radical honesty? The article is dumb and I bet deep down, that Brad Blanton guy is horribly lonely.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:50 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


As I read these comments, I clicked random play on my iTunes and The Best Imitation of Myself by Ben Folds Five came on first. Now I am creeped out.
posted by Kwine at 9:53 AM on September 5, 2007


I took up the whole no lies (except for very occasional failures on my part, usually about embarrassing things) but not sharing everything several years ago, and it didn't even require any mushrooms. An interesting thing I saw once was a friend frankly telling this girl we hung out with all the time that he thought she was deceitful, overly selfish, unpleasant to be around, etc. (I tended to agree, but kept my mouth shut.) and over time after that she actually improved herself.

The funniest part is when I say something someone thinks is an outrageous bluff and they try to call me on it, but I never bluff outside of the appropriate games, and so whoever tried to call my "bluff" ends up, and this word best succinctly conveys what happens, pwned.

It's interesting to contrast this with the lies our society is built in; that is, all day long I see advertisements which are almost wholly composed of lies and manipulation, and then the government tells me more blatant lies. Which reminds me, the part about no lies only applies to people, just like in the article. Corporations, governments, and similar entities are more like bacteria with people for organelles, and fuck 'em.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:55 AM on September 5, 2007


Radical honesty? The article is dumb and I bet deep down, that Brad Blanton guy is horribly lonely.

No joke. Essentially inventing your own very difficult style of communicating and then expecting others to join you in it is, in itself, a pretty transparent demonstration of your psychological problems.
posted by hermitosis at 9:57 AM on September 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


I fell off my chair laughing about halfway through. Honestly. Radically. It's funny because it's true.
posted by rokusan at 8:23 AM on September 5 [+] [!]


I don't believe rokusan fell out of his chair from the intensity of his or her laughter. Actually. Physically.

But I don't really care.

I've long thought honesty is a highly overrated virtue, particularly in comparison to discretion (which is a kind of compassion, in my view). Or, put another way, it's very often the case that when someone says they're "just being honest," they're actually being needlessly, self-indulgently cruel.
posted by gompa at 9:59 AM on September 5, 2007


I read the article, found the idea stupid and tiresome, then I came to this thread, read through it, favorited several comments that I agreed with, and now I'm typing this. As I reread it, I realize that it really isn't a quality enough comment to have anyone favorite it, but in a little while I'll probably make some one line snark that will be cute enough to get some notice.

My main complaint with the article is that it seems to encourage people to say whatever shit is going through their heads, as that is the only way to be truly honest. And I just can't stand the idea of that much noise, truthy or no.
posted by quin at 10:00 AM on September 5, 2007


The dude is confusing having boundaries with being dishonest. There's a big difference between controlling what you say to other people because you find it in your personal interest to do so, and repressing yourself because you feel weak, ashamed, or overpowered. The armchair psychologist in me thinks this dude is trying to (over)compensate for feeling inferior and controlled by using "honesty" as a weapon.
posted by facetious at 10:00 AM on September 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


kigpig:
damn dirty ape:

You're claiming that right wing radio opinions are people telling the truth ....
I quote this because it points out something interesting about "Radical Honesty" that hasn't been stressed so far in this thread:

It's a lie.

Fundamentally. As in, it's more or less impossible. And furthermore, my "truth" -- my "radical expression of honesty" -- has absolutely no necessary relationship with anybody else's. (Well, except for stuff to do with physical reality. I'm not that much of a solipsist.)

This is not a question of will or ethics or being honest with or true to onesself. It's a question of what you can know, and what you can't. As in, it's really unlikely that you even understand all your reasons for doing (or thinking or saying) something, quite apart from whether you can express them clearly.

Those AM radio wankers that damn ditry ape was talking about thought they were being Radical.y Honest. They thought they were Speaking Truth on the radio. From our perspective, they may well be idiots, totally wrong, completely mistaken about everythign that matters. If we're honest, and they're honest, what have we got? We've got a bunch of people who don't think that one another can be trusted, or ought to be abetted in any way.

Someone remarked that this idea, "radical honesty", is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of society. That bears repeating. because in this narcissistic, libertarian-obsessed millieu, it's very easy to convince yourself that society exists merely to put individuals down. As an evolved characteristic of our species, I have to believe that it has some adaptive aspects to it.
posted by lodurr at 10:06 AM on September 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


I learned that being honest (not volunteering TMI, just basic fundamental honesty) is the best way to go about things back in grammar school... I do it because (a) it's much easier than trying to remember the lies you've told, and (b) I've always been rewarded for it, because my underlying motives are generally good.

1) People who are liars know how to craft lies they can remember. It's really not that much hard to remember lies than it is to remember random true facts.

2) Lying rewards some people just as often as telling the truth rewards other people. You can have underlying motives that are generally good and still be a liar.

3) Whether you lie or tell the truth, it's just important to know your audience, and how much truth/lies is appropriate.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:07 AM on September 5, 2007


I ate the mashed potatoes, and I am pissed.
posted by quin at 10:12 AM on September 5, 2007


Why would I be upset if... in the middle of romantic cuddling and very lovely wooing with someone that I'm allowing myself to be emotionally vulnerable with... a guy says he thought I was a prostitute when we met?

Are you on crack?

It's kinda like meeting a black man, befriending him and finding out he's a well-educated professional, going to his home, meeting his wife & kids, and then saying to him a few days later at a barbecue in his home, "You know, when I first met you I acted the way I did because I figured you were just one of those black gangmembers trying to sell me crack." It reflects on the mindframe of the person saying it, not the person it's being said to. And it says, "Hi. I'm saying something insulting to you and calling it honesty so you can't get mad, but the truth is that I'm being a stupid asshole to you."
posted by miss lynnster at 10:12 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm lying all the time. uh uh.
posted by nicolin at 10:13 AM on September 5, 2007


davejay and 23skidoo are both right: It is easier, for most people, to do the calculus and keep track on truth than on lies. But there are simple, easy to teach and learn techniques that can make you a brilliant liar.

Where most liars fail is in wanting to be found out. If you genuinely don't want to be found out, it's easy to get away with lying.

And as I keep saying: Anybody can be conned. I have been. As any good con artist can tell you, it's often easier to con the smart folks than the dumb folks. You just have to appeal to their vanity.

Look what a racket you can make out of it as a self-help psychologist.
posted by lodurr at 10:19 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I wouldn't say that I practice anything close to "radical honesty," but I'm definitely more straightforward then your average person.

I do it mostly because it gets on my nerves when others sugarcoat the truth. I find that it often does far more damage then just being blunt. So for me, it's kind of a respect thing - I'm going to treat others the way I want to be treated.

Does it work for me? Sorta. In general, yes. The difficult thing is knowing when you're going too far. If you're someone like me who just generally speaks their mind, it's easy to get carried away and say things that you'll regret. I'll admit that I've gotten better at it over the years, but I still find myself putting my foot in my mouth from time to time.

But the benefits? Priceless. You get things done. You don't have to pretend that you like people who you dislike. You get what you need from various people in the service industry. And yes, girls do dig it, but only in the sense that you aren't one of those guys who never makes a move and thus always falls into the "friend trap."
posted by Afroblanco at 10:28 AM on September 5, 2007


"Hi. I'm saying something insulting to you and calling it honesty so you can't get mad, but the truth is that I'm being a stupid asshole to you."

That nicely sums up my impression of Radical Honesty.
posted by Tehanu at 10:30 AM on September 5, 2007


I admit that I haven't read all the preceding comments. I wanted to mention Corey Haim's band 'Truth Movement' because I thought it might make me seem hip as well as being a humorous tangent to this post. If someone above has already posted something about this, then I resent you for being quicker/hipper than I am.
posted by Pecinpah at 10:31 AM on September 5, 2007


It's possible to tell the truth without being an ass about it. I don't lie very often, because I'm really bad at it. If I find myself in a difficult situation that requires one of those "little white lies" I find it a lot easier and less painful to pick the truth that I CAN say without being hurtful, and leave the hurtful truth unsaid. Maybe sins of omission can count as lies, but it's either that or be an asshole, and we already have enough of those.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:33 AM on September 5, 2007


I resent having to read comments to see whether anyone has already said what I want to say, and so I don't read them. Nevertheless I think everyone else who visits the thread will read my comment. I also think other people always obey, for instance, red lights and speed limit signs, making it safe for me to treat rules of the road as "suggested best practices" rather than "laws."

The no-lies guru lied. "I didn't really want tea, I just want to bone you." So all the way to the tea shoppe and while they were being seated and placing their orders he was livin' a radical lie. I resent this guy's existence. I appreciate his probable immanent cirrhosis.

I resent bold for emphasis every time I see it. Bold + italics = the devil. I resent it when I see "methinks" in posts and I resent it when I see "And, yes, bla bla bla," and, "And, no, bla bla bla," implying the poster KNOWS WHAT I'M THINKING. (I did not resent it when Miss Lynnster did it above because it was funny. I appreciate "And, yes," in a joke when the joke turns out to be funny. Which is never.) I appreciate all caps but only when I do them because I callibrate the dose of capital letters to my exact caffeination status AT THE TIME (if I revisit my own posts in a different state of caffeination, I find I resent my former self). I can't spell but I resent any misspelling severe enough to cut through my fog of inattention and ignorance. I don't believe people should say "whilst." I resent "whilst." I resent all archaisms. I appreciate others' brevity but cannot achieve it, myself, and I resent the lack.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:33 AM on September 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


I like injokes. It makes me want to read metafilter more.

I only read the last comment.

I'm tired of "Blue".
posted by takeyourmedicine at 10:34 AM on September 5, 2007


This whole RH idea is flat out bullshit. I agree with pywacket that there is an element of kindness that needs to be instilled in conversation. That doesn't mean that you have to be fake or brown nosing the entire time, but you also don't walk into someone's new house and look around and then snark "Ew. Gold. How hideous." because that's exceedingly rude and hurtful. My family is in some turmoil right now because 2 members are firmly in the RH "I'll say what I want and if you get your feelings hurt then you suck" camp and the rest of us are left feeling hurt by their commentary. Their remarks have not sparked insightful discussion and communication between people, quite the opposite-now 2 brothers barely speak and family holidays are a thing of the past.
posted by hollygoheavy at 10:35 AM on September 5, 2007


Also it's Corey Feldman, not Haim. I admit that this makes me look stupid, or at least lazy, and smashes my effort to look cool all to hell. I resent me for being so lazy. 'Cause it was laziness, not lack of teh smartz that caused this embarassion accident.
posted by Pecinpah at 10:35 AM on September 5, 2007


I guess my beef with Radical Honesty is how it implicitly grants total primacy to the self. As noted in a few comments above, is whatever banality one's noggin cooks up really worth sputtering into the universe?

I think this elevation of the self is deeply anti-social, meaning specifically, against society. And society (friendship, kinship, community, etc) is the most beautiful sandpaper, buffing our roughest edges and massaging our selfs into better forms. We make and participate in communities in order to learn how to be the best version of our self -- we learn compromise and nuance and decency. I don't think that lying is particularly virtuous, but some form of it is surely necessary for any human endeavor that extends past total self-interest.

(on preview, I'm basically agreeing with lodurr)

Oh, and I also think there is very little that seems radical about Blanton's thinking -- assholery seems pretty mainstream to me. Granted, he does seem like a funny cat, a good occasional guest at parties.
posted by verysleeping at 10:37 AM on September 5, 2007


Embarassing. Not 'embarrassion. I'll be radically honest here and tell you that I feel I'm digging a hole in The Blue by showing my poor spelling habits. I'll blame it on lack of coffee today, but it's really more about my on soft-brainedness. I'm not sorry.
posted by Pecinpah at 10:40 AM on September 5, 2007


Shit.
posted by Pecinpah at 10:40 AM on September 5, 2007


Dear Society:

Your calculated lies and polite omissions are the only things keeping me from hurting you.

Yours in Bullshite,

IRFH
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:40 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Those AM radio wankers that damn ditry ape was talking about thought they were being Radical.y Honest. They thought they were Speaking Truth on the radio.

Completely doubt this. I always figured them to be the same as all the Republicans who can't stop sucking dick but in public life always act against gays. They're total hypocrites who decided to get ahead in life by playing on or taking advantage of the stupid, misguided, or ignorant, and fuck honesty or morality.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:45 AM on September 5, 2007


I'm using my Dad's login. All his short comments are mine.
posted by sidereal at 10:48 AM on September 5, 2007


I don't think that lying is particularly virtuous, but some form of it is surely necessary for any human endeavor that extends past total self-interest.

This attitude depresses me. Just because Oscar Wilde (a pathological liar and probably certifiable sociopath, lovable though he may have been) says lies are necessary doesn't mean they are. This reasoning up-ends the reality of lying completely: People don't lie to spare anyone's feelings but their own. People lie because they're afraid of the consequences to themselves of telling the truth. Don't go kidding yourself that dishonesty is some kind of act of selflessness because that's just self-serving crap. Fear and self-interest are the primary motivators of dishonesty, and to claim otherwise is a perversion in the most literal sense of the term. Do people sometimes like to think they're lying to spare other's feelings? Sure, but when I'm really honest with myself about those occasions when I lied "to spare someone's feelings" in the past, I can see I was really just morally lazy or a chicken shit--not wanting to deal with the hassles or risks that go along with being honest. And what gives any of us the right to decide what facts another person should or shouldn't have access to about themselves?
posted by saulgoodman at 10:57 AM on September 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


I think it's a good idea to be as honest as you can about your own feelings, but avoid acting like you have any insight about the other person at all.

You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance, as untanklike as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your own ten toes instead of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them with an open mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get them wrong. You might as well have the brain of a tank. You get them wrong before you meet them, while you’re anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you’re with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again. Since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion empty of all perception, an astonishing farce of misperception. And yet what are we to do about this terribly significant business of other people, which gets bled of the significance we think it has and takes on instead a significance that is ludicrous, so ill-equipped are we all to envision one another’s interior workings and invisible aims? Is everyone to go off and lock the door and secluded like the lonely writers do, in a soundproof cell, summoning people out of words and then proposing that these word people are closer to the real thing than the real people that we mangle with our innocence every day? The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It’s getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That’s how we know we’re alive: we’re wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that---well, lucky you. – Philip Roth, American Pastoral
posted by salvia at 10:59 AM on September 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


On Love
An honorable human relationship - that is one in which two people have the right to use the word "love" is a process,
Delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.
It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.
It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.
It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.
Adrienne Rich

So I think he is a hack and has a point too.

skipped down here to post but will probably skip back up and read more comments
posted by pointilist at 11:04 AM on September 5, 2007


I honestly thought the article was intended to be humorous, and didn't think about it too much beyond that, but true to MeFI form, an interesting discussion has taken root.

Small aside, didn't everyone go school with the punk rock chick (not sure why it was always a girl) who did the whole Radical Honesty throughout the entirety of sophomore year? It was amusing for about a week and then everyone really started to hate her guts.
posted by psmealey at 11:07 AM on September 5, 2007


i have a fish. in my pants. i once let Ynoxas lick it.
posted by quonsar at 11:20 AM on September 5


I thought it was your cock and you were just permanently flaccid, like you are on MetaFilter. The good news: you don't have a yeast infection.

And yes, I charged him $300 for the date. (I knew someone was going to go there so I'm nipping it in the bud.)
posted by miss lynnster at 11:30 AM on September 5


So basically you were skeezed out by him being right?

Seriously, based on the persona you project on MeFi, if I met you in person, I might believe you were a working girl too. But that's not an insult.

You only are offended because of your own prejudices... I, and perhaps your date, find nothing wrong with sex workers and their profession. I think prostitution should be legal and taxed and regulated, just like any other service industry.

Of course, I'd pay just to listen to you sing, because you're damn good. Getting to see you naked would just be a welcome bonus.

However, getting paid to perform art is really just another kind of prostitution, but we'll save that discussion for another day.
posted by Ynoxas at 11:07 AM on September 5, 2007


Interesting post/discussion.

1. RH gives people power over you. They can demand your more private details and openly insult you. It will easily be turned into a game with the socially savvy having free reign over everyone else except those they target will not have any defenses.

A bunch of people said this. But it's already like that. It's called the problem of justice. Why should a person be just? If everyone else is being just, then an individual can do better by being unjust. Two traditional solutions to this problem have been religion (God sees everything you do and will punish you for injustice) and law (the government is more powerful than you and will punish you for injustice). Sometimes I think that as the government becomes more pantoptic we won't need God for this purpose anymore. But I digress. The point is that radical honesty wouldn't add anything significant to this problem, which is a fundamental issue of society.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:12 AM on September 5, 2007


I appreciate and strongly admire "embarrassion accident" whether or not it was intentional.

I resent myself for being unable to stop from posting twice in two seconds, but it would be dishonest of me to omit to mention that more than anything in the world I resent Rumsfelding, which has taken over not just internets comments but the whole world and which is when you ask a question and immediately answer it, thus:

Do you go to war with the army you have? Absolutely. Do we wish body armor and bullets and crap fell out of trees for free? Sure we do. Would we give it to the troops even if it did? Of course not--we'd sell it to the Saudis or somebody. Were you planning to ask nothing but really predictable, emotional, slow-pitch, 3rd-grade-reading-level questions? Listen and and find out! Am I going to continue to grandstand with my ask-'n'-answer routine for... oh, about three more minutes, silencing you and curtailing this farcical waste of my time whilst racking up a big wad of soundbites the press will replay endlessly for the next three days? Aw, yeah! Will I then whipass out of here and sock down perfect martinis in some secret, velvet-lined and pricey-prosty-encrusted DC insider chamber? Indubitububillaaaay.

Once you notice it, you start to hear it everywhere. I'll have no more on't. It hath made me mad.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:14 AM on September 5, 2007


However, getting paid to perform art is really just another kind of prostitution, but we'll save that discussion for another day.

I agree with this. I'm an aspiring whore.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:14 AM on September 5, 2007


Small aside, didn't everyone go school with the punk rock chick (not sure why it was always a girl) who did the whole Radical Honesty throughout the entirety of sophomore year?

yeah. i was fucking that girl.

(there's some RH for you.)
posted by saulgoodman at 11:14 AM on September 5, 2007


saulgoodman, I think that quote is plucked out-of-context and so have a hard time defending it against your specifics -- many of which I agree with.

I wonder if our disagreement is in semantics. I will not defend or advocate lying. But, I think Blanton's notion of Radical Honesty is far more detrimental to human relationships. I guess I just think that Truth has so much give and nuance and grey that I am uncomfortable with any philosophy that implores me to express it regularly. You may consider me a liar; I consider myself careful.
posted by verysleeping at 11:14 AM on September 5, 2007


If there is any evidence that Radical Honestly is not worth a damn, it is that none of the comments in this thread that impersonated being radically honest were funny.

Hey, it's just one man's opinion! I'm just being honest, here!
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:15 AM on September 5, 2007


Sometimes I think that as the government becomes more pantoptic we won't need God for this purpose anymore.

Panoptic, rather. I feel compelled to correct my spelling errors because I think they make me look stupid, even if what I meant was clear enough.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:15 AM on September 5, 2007


I think a large contingent of mefi'ers are really missing the point of what radical honesty is about.

-It is not about "being a rude jackass and getting away with it" by claiming "what? im just being honest!"

Honesty is about respecting yourself and not feeling the need to hide what you think and feel or, basically, who you are.
If you pay any attention to the article in fact, it's obvious that the honesty the writer employs in fact is a great relief in many situations and makes a lot of his relationships healthier and more communicative. When you are not honest, resentment and tension can build up in a relationship, and in general the quality of the relationship suffers since basically you are afraid to be honest, or yourself.

Regarding the "have no filter between your brain and mouth", here is my take on it:
-You do not have to express every thought on your mind at every moment.
-You have the right to not say anything, if you choose.
But the point of practicing not censoring yourself is that you have the right to say how you feel, and if someone is hurt or offended, well that's life and they can find ways of coping and dealing with it. In general though, honesty is actually quite productive and welcomed, we just fear the results of our being honest. Another great thing about RH is that if you say something that bothers others they can honestly (and without fear) that they're bothered or simply not interested in what you have to say and could you please shut up.
This is NOT the same as being mean spirited in your judgements. If you're a mean spirited asshole, then you're a mean spirited asshole. That's a separate issue.

Lastly, this is about as anti-intellectual as you can get. Essentially youre telling people to let their id be in control. RH happens all the time, we usually call it right-wing AM radio.
"We gotta do something about those thieving (insert minority here)."
...
"Burning the flag should be a capital crime!"
Imagine those voices times 300 million. Think they'll sit and listen your your logic and context? RH would create a society of angry little children expressing their basest desires. Not a superhuman truth telling contest. The government buildings would burn first then the universities.


I take issue with the comparison of "the id being in control" and being honest. Firstly, the id is in control anyway. Secondly, you imply that withholding your opinion is using your brain. This is ridiculous. It's basically equating lying==thinking self-consciously==using your brain. Whereas being honest==unselfconsciously pursuing id's desires==not thinking rationally. I think this is totally wrong, as it implies people cannot be instinctual, honest and rationally thoughtful at the same time.
Saying gov't buildings and universities would burn if people were honest is quite a telling remark. It sounds essentially like you don't trust people to use their capacity to think. I actually think that self-consciousness and lying are what get in the way of honest intellectual inquiry without fear of judgement from others. You can be a thoughtful intellectual without being an egotist. You basically don't believe people can think for themselves. Isn't the natural extension of this a hatred of democracy and a feeling that people need to be controlled because they're too irresponsible and savage? I will call you a fascist, then.

If anything is going to save our society it is open, frank discussion. People are too afraid to come out of their egos to consider the truth most of the time and I think that makes people a little crazy.
posted by PsyDev at 11:16 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


verysleeping: based on your comments, i don't think we're in disagreement. truth is nothing if not nuanced--it's only when we over-emphasize these nuances out of self interest ("fog of war" style) that my blood pressure gets up.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:19 AM on September 5, 2007


Honesty, in general, is good. Bluntness can be good in the right setting. But Blanton's RH, at least as far as it's portrayed by this article, sounds to me like a particularly literal, self-serving and artless ploy for controlling the course of a conversation. He's got his own set of rules that the other party must play by or they're considered phonies or cowards, but those rules are flexible enough for him to cast aside when it comes to his taxes. It's a verbal dominance display and he's the biggest ape at the seminar.

Haruspex, I really like that Wilde quote, but isn't the cherry tree story itself a fabrication? Which is, like, making my head spin?

Also: I've developed this weird internet crush on Lodurr. I feel strange admitting it, but honesty and all that.
posted by maryh at 11:24 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's like wow man...instant mashed potatoes..in an instant...
no mashing involved....just add water.
posted by doctorschlock at 11:25 AM on September 5, 2007


From the article: "[Blanton is] a former Texan."

No he is not. "Texan" isn't something you get to be just because you moved to Dallas, and it doesn't go away when you leave the state. There is no such thing as a former Texan. Either he still is one, or he never was. And this idiot who's married to a Swedish flight attendant 26 years younger than he is and runs eight day seminars that include a day of full nudity, never, ever, ever, ever, ever was a real Texan. But I don't doubt that he claimed to be.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:27 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


saulgoodman, cheers.
posted by verysleeping at 11:28 AM on September 5, 2007


I'm wearing nothing but a cowboy hat and hip waders right now, if we're being honest here.

Re: the author's meeting with the woman who he tells about trying to look down her shirt. Wouldn't the radically honest thing have been to unabashedly look down her shirt? How is it more honest to say "I'd love to see your breasts" than to simply stare at them during the meeting, standing up occasionally to try to get a better view? Better yet, just drop your pants and rub one out then and there. I mean, anything less is really just a lie, isn't it?

And some lies can make the world a better place. For example, there are beautiful women who have mastered the art of the turn down to the point where the guys they say no to actually feel better about themselves afterwards. The woman's actual thought might be "I'd rather mate with a meat tenderizer than spend any time with you" but it comes across as "if I was looking to date you'd be near the top of my list, but I'm not, thanks anyway." A flattering rejection can put a spring in your step, and if it's a lie, so what?
posted by maxwelton at 11:29 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Honesty is about respecting yourself and not feeling the need to hide what you think and feel or, basically, who you are.

Well, Im impressed at how well all of you seem to know yourselves. You guys dont have the following issues I have:

1. Mood swings.

2. Not getting enough sleep.

3. Pettiness.

4. Hot button issues.

etc etc. So I may come into work and honestly hate it and the people ehre, but that sure as hell doesnt suddenly give me the right to yell at these people. A cup of coffee later or a good walk later I'm almost a different person. Wheres the good in honestly yelling out your every desire and thought? What do i have to gain in the long run by expressing my short term feelings? Why should my every reaction be communication? Is communication best served as commiseration?

Because humans are not only in competition with each other and are moody and are functionary crazy in some way is a huge argument in support of privacy, civility, and telling of lies.

RH is based on the idea that if we drop all this then we'll enter a utopia. I believe the opposite. We have evolved these functions for the greater good and if we all became id-yelling idiots we would quickly regret it.

I think you need a serious idealized view of humanity to even begin to approach RH on any level. I think this is a common fault in people. We sometimes think that if everyone did something* we would all be in paradise. In the real world there is no quick fix to the human condition, only practice, smarts, quiet reflection, civility, humor, and a little sympathy. RH is the polar opposite of these values.

*something being eating just veggies or worshipping allah or not having sex until marriage, or wearing crystals, or clenching 100 times a day, working more/less, moving to canada, etc etc.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:53 AM on September 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


posted by PsyDev If anything is going to save our society it is open, frank discussion. People are too afraid to come out of their egos to consider the truth most of the time and I think that makes people a little crazy.

You'd sound more intelligent if you weren't so pompous.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:54 AM on September 5, 2007


So I may come into work and honestly hate it and the people ehre, but that sure as hell doesnt suddenly give me the right to yell at these people. A cup of coffee later or a good walk later I'm almost a different person.

I think that this, along with this bit from the article:

"Ninety percent of the time I love my wife," I told him. "And 10 percent of the time I hate her. Why should I hurt her feelings that 10 percent of the time? Why not just wait until that phase passes and I return to the true feeling, which is that I love her?"


Bring up some interesting questions about the nature of self. How does one distinguish "true" feelings from "untrue" feelings? Are the feelings we have most often the true ones? The ones that follow some kind of logic? The ones that make us feel best about ourselves? What does it really mean to be true to yourself?
posted by ludwig_van at 11:59 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I am neither Hyper, nor Blue.
posted by HyperBlue at 12:01 PM on September 5, 2007


I never lie.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:04 PM on September 5, 2007


This reminds me of a "Codco" (CBC Newfoundland comedy show) episode a few years back where they had a skit about Michael Gorbachev speaking to the Supreme Soviet:

"Comrades, I like to masturbate."

"Is OK! Is glasnost. Openness."

"I like to pick my nose, too. Is OK! Is glasnost."

And look where that went.
posted by sneebler at 12:07 PM on September 5, 2007


a huge argument in support of privacy, civility, and telling of lies.

imo, one of the items in your list does not belong. lying is not in anyway morally equivalent to privacy and civility. interesting note on our culture that such an equivalence could even be proposed. since we always have the option to keep a hurtful truth to ourselves, there's no need to go the extra step and actively mislead. and don't say it's just not possible never to lie, because there really are people who manage it most of the time.

Bring up some interesting questions about the nature of self. How does one distinguish "true" feelings from "untrue" feelings? Are the feelings we have most often the true ones?

Interesting point. In Buddhism, the response is, there is no real unchanging self--it's just an illusion (a series of lies, so to speak).

I don't think claims about feelings have the same kind of simple truth values that claims about objectively demonstrable facts do (e.g., "I drove to the store" vs. "I really respect your opinion"). Feelings are much more complicated. That's why they're so unreliable as a basis for decision making.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:08 PM on September 5, 2007


I know from countless sitcoms that all of you honest people are going to feel really bad tomorrow morning.
posted by craniac at 12:33 PM on September 5, 2007


Brutal honesty can be funny in fiction, movies and internet videos, but I can do without it in real life.
posted by jimmymcvee at 12:33 PM on September 5, 2007


It reminds me of an issue I raised with Blanton: Why make waves? "Ninety percent of the time I love my wife," I told him. "And 10 percent of the time I hate her. Why should I hurt her feelings that 10 percent of the time? Why not just wait until that phase passes and I return to the true feeling, which is that I love her?"

Blanton's response: "Because you're a manipulative, lying son of a bitch."

posted by jason's_planet at 12:38 PM on September 5, 2007


Good article, much better than most of what you find in Esquire, and Metafilter as well, for that matter.

Blanton may be more gung-ho than I find reasonable but he is largely correct. Becoming more honest and straightforward has certainly been of benefit to me.

Many of you are not very smart. I am of course, referring to the scoffers. Most of the above criticisms are taking a gross simplification and then putting that simplification down. Liars may gain an advantage in some areas but not to the degree suggested. This is recommended for the purposes of increasing intimacy and reducing stress. The liar may gain some in social status and the professional world but they are also pandering to their imagined conceptions of what the other person wants. A liar is alienated from their own feelings. Not their passions, their feelings. And there is a difference between those two. Blanton's recommendations are for those who want that sense of self-honesty and are willing to pay the price of dealing with uncomfortable feelings, an increase in the number of confrontations, and a possible (but not inevitable) handicap in their social and professional world. I thought that went without saying.

There is nothing child like or juvenile about this either. Children are crass and some of the examples in the article were crass, but honesty does not equal always being crass. Being fake and deceptive is common in children once they have been going to school for a few years. So much of their behavior is posturing for social position. Saying "You have a big nose and it makes you look really funny.", might be honest in that those words were what the child was thinking, but the tone and body language can convey a lot more communication which is not being owned. It isn't said for the purpose of being open, many times it's just aggression. And you also rarely find children saying something like "I said something hurtful the other day because I wanted to maintain my position with my friends.".

It also isn't the same as always being an asshole. I don't know what Blanton teaches but for me, it is common sense that honesty takes place within a relationship. Honesty is more about communicating what is going on in your head for the purpose of getting on the same page than indulging your unacknowledged aggression and opportunism. Receptivity to the other's position is presupposed.

But why am I typing this out here? If you found the article laughable, then the above won't win you over.

And I do think there is more room for kindness, discretion and respect for dignity, than indicated by the article.

Lack of courage is what holds me back from bringing more honesty into my real world life, that and laziness.

------

Oyéah,

Your post is great. That's exactly it. I'm not so into favorites as a + vote, and I want to acknowledge it. I like the idea of living without self honesty being like living a metaphor. It's familiar, but I have a tough time articulating it further.

R. D. Laing's book of poetry, 'Knots', comes to mind. The first line is something like,

'We are playing at not playing a game."

On Preview:

Pretty much what PsyDev said.
posted by BigSky at 12:43 PM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


saulgoodman wrote "I just make a point of trying never to lie whenever I do give out information"
*resolves never to ask saulgoodman "How do I look?"*
posted by Cranberry at 12:45 PM on September 5, 2007


I despise the arrogant effrontery that someone else's truth must be mine (or even yours, mon frere!) to accept simply for their stating it as such, sans "embellishment" or "consideration" — or even simple awareness. Rave on, all you rabid Rousseaus! Hey, perhaps the coffee was a delicate Blue Mountain decoction of surpassing subtlety; coffee that is not to Blanton's taste, perhaps, but quite probably not shit. Indeed, I'm certain that shit is not at all what that coffee tasted like.

So what does any of us gain by saying so? It's a metaphor, metaphors are lies for the sake of comprehension, agreed-on comprehensions are relative truths, if your truth is more beautiful/interesting/fecund than mine, it may well prevail with more people and for longer.

Try it! "Gosh, Ms. Grundy, you look swell today." "This coffee's flavor suggests to me the suety, opaline smears that oxidize the iron seat beneath Satan's bubbling hemorrhoids."

And yes, the cherry tree story was just such a lie for the sake of a truth: a neophyte, struggling society that desperately needed to overlook vast truths (Indians, 4/5ths of a man, contradictory eschatologies) for another, more expedient perspective (a grand, consciously open-ended social experiment without precedent). Thus, a nifty tale of self-responsibility and social contract, a secular confession and public redemption, a mini-bildungsroman for a self-questing culture seeking an identity equal to its enormous prospects. Pretty keen, for a little lie. Wilde's Vivian is actually giving it a good bit of credit as such, I think.

But back to shit. Shit, ultimately, is the point here. There's a serious sort of "this world is shit and I'll be the first to say so" cut-rate Calvinism inherent in these sorts of RH initiatives, and it's oh so wearisome to have it come around yet again. Such, as I understand it, was Wilde's contention: those who purport an absolutist perspective of truth are reductivist to the point of absurdity and purposefully blind (deaf?) to their own rhetorical guises. RH is the latest in a long line of speaking-cure theologies that posit the self-proclaimed saved few vs. the preterite mass, and, as for me, Blanton is welcome to rule his own little dull Geneva of seminar-funded disparagement until embittered ex-English major journalists cease to come knocking.
posted by Haruspex at 12:51 PM on September 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


I punch random strangers in the face because I believe the sensation of being punched in the face reminds them of the illusory nature of subjective consciousness. If everyone believed the same thing as me, I would be normal; as it is, I'm considered an arsehole. Is that fair?

Seriously, though, anyone who can't be bothered adjusting their behaviour slightly to make people around them more comfortable is an arsehole. And anyone who justifies this approach by saying the world would be better if all of society operated the same way is a stupid arsehole. You don't get to play by a different set of rules to everyone else, just because you can argue that your rules might work better.
posted by Soulfather at 12:53 PM on September 5, 2007


The liar may gain some in social status and the professional world but they are also pandering to their imagined conceptions of what the other person wants. A liar is alienated from their own feelings. Not their passions, their feelings. And there is a difference between those two.

How is a liar alienated from their feelings when they say something that isn't true?
posted by 23skidoo at 12:55 PM on September 5, 2007


In Buddhism, the response is, there is no real unchanging self

Hmm, well. Some kinds of Buddhists have a few things to say about how to know your self-nature, your Buddha-nature, and learning to express it in thought and action, and speech. It's not all that easy.

I like being honest, almost always, but if people are going to take some simple and appealing premise to its logical extremes in the hopes that it will lead to some great journey of self-improvement, I'd sooner recommend John Wayne's advice, "Talk low, talk slow, and don't say too much."
posted by sfenders at 1:02 PM on September 5, 2007


There is so much more to a person than he or she may know about him- or herself at any given moment.
posted by hermitosis at 1:08 PM on September 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed the article, and this thread. I think the fat ex-Texan psychoanalyst, whose name I have already forgotten though I know starts with B (I could look it up, but who cares), would be a pain in the ass to be around. I think the writer of the article fucked up how you're supposed to do this, but that's okay, he was trying too hard and if you fuck up like that it makes for better copy anyway, and hey, he's just trying to get paid and laid. I appreciate that he was up front about that.

I think there is some benefit to be had from analyzing your own motivations for things. Even altruism just makes you feel good. Saving lives makes you feel good. Everything is hedonistic on some level. Even actively not being a hedonist – you'd just be doing it for your own emotional or spiritual or whatever gratification, which is another reason why I have always been pretty impressed with the whole Zen idea that there is no true self, like saulgoodman mentioned. Trying to present a true self means you are not true, because if it was your true self, you wouldn't have to try; but consciously not trying is just another form of trying, and is still false. So you're fucked either way.

I have this feeling that the guy would remind me a lot of Dr. Phil. I hate Dr. Phil.

If I wrote a one-line pithy, witty "radically honest" comment, I would get all sorts of favorites. This comment isn't going to get any. I think favorites are a horrible idea but I like to get them anyway and just like everyone else I think of them as a feedback mechanism and I will think you're lying if you say that you really do use them to bookmark comments, because that is such bullshit.

I type too much.
posted by blacklite at 1:12 PM on September 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


So what does any of us gain by saying so? It's a metaphor, metaphors are lies for the sake of comprehension, agreed-on comprehensions are relative truths, if your truth is more beautiful/interesting/fecund than mine, it may well prevail with more people and for longer.

Indeed, and you've just reminded me of Nietzsche's On Truth and Lying in a Non-moral Sense which covers some related ground.
posted by ludwig_van at 1:12 PM on September 5, 2007


I'm with PsyDev on this but have to admit it gets me no-where (or should that be know-where?)

I have long been a proponent of radical honesty with my nearest and dearest but you know what? It only works with my nearest.

Sylvia is right to say it is only workable when you are radically honest about YOUR feelings, that has been the most successful (but then someone needs to be listening, so define success!) the egotistical urge to be radically honest about others is NEVER a good idea. Surpress it at all costs......
posted by Wilder at 1:14 PM on September 5, 2007


And while we're being honest, I must reply to this comment, which I will not quote: Haruspex, I appreciate your vocabulary, but my eyes defocused at "contradictory eschatologies", and after "mini-bildungsroman" and "cut-rate Calvinism" I was pretty much gone. Who are you writing for? Admittedly, I'm tired, but mini-bildungsroman? I am pretty sure what works in writing here is the conversational tone, and that isn't it.

There. Radical. Constructive? Maybe.
posted by blacklite at 1:20 PM on September 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


I skipped a lot of the comments on the way here. I wondered if RH would get me more or less sex. I wondered what it'd be like to sleep with 500 women.

And I'm still all o_O in case the rest of MeFi hates me and that's why my AskMe got only two answers.
posted by bonaldi at 1:23 PM on September 5, 2007


I didn't read the whole article because I have a tremendously short attention span and most of the shit mefites post isn't that interesting.
posted by shmegegge at 1:25 PM on September 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Deciding that RH sucks, especially on the internet where half the time the problem is that we're all too honest when there's no comeback.
posted by bonaldi at 1:27 PM on September 5, 2007


The liar may gain some in social status and the professional world but they are also pandering to their imagined conceptions of what the other person wants. A liar is alienated from their own feelings. Not their passions, their feelings. And there is a difference between those two.

How is a liar alienated from their feelings when they say something that isn't true?


It's plain as day in the story of that famous liar, leonard zelig.
posted by nicolin at 1:27 PM on September 5, 2007


I always read the first 20 comments, then skip to the bottom of the thread, post the first thougtht that comes to mind, then read the rest of the thread from the bottom up to see if someone else already had the same idea.
posted by anthill at 1:30 PM on September 5, 2007


I imagine the RH fellow as being a lot like Ron Burgundy from "Anchorman".

The writer was a tool to use this experiment as an opportunity to be creepy to his family's nanny. What do you want to bet that by the time this hit print she'd either quit or been let go by his wife? If anything, he made it worse by writing about it, seeking the faux-expiation of it being all "part of the story". His "honesty" in the moment was born from self-deception, and it was compounded once he was forced to back off, which led to his contorting himself even further on the subject by including it in his story to show that it was ulimately no big deal and nothing to be ashamed of.

I have the hots for my nanny. No I don't. Yes I do, but that doesn't make me a bad person. Yes it does. No it doesn't, and to prove it, I'll tell EVERYONE about it.

In the meantime, his whole family has to deal with the consequences.
posted by hermitosis at 1:37 PM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I never lie.

Really? I always do.
posted by LordSludge at 1:45 PM on September 5, 2007


blacklite,

Why do you think favoriting comments is a horrible idea? I always figured it was a good way for people to respond that they liked an idea without a jillion posts in the thread.
posted by kigpig at 1:46 PM on September 5, 2007


Most of the above criticisms are taking a gross simplification and then putting that simplification down. Liars may gain an advantage in some areas but not to the degree suggested.

I can only speak for myself, but I will say this:(Oh, and second on that ex-Texan thing. Kid does write for Esquire, after all, I guess.)
posted by lodurr at 1:52 PM on September 5, 2007


I'm an unabashed and inveterate liar. Except just now.
posted by Fezboy! at 1:56 PM on September 5, 2007


How is a liar alienated from their feelings when they say something that isn't true?

Not alienated in the moment of lying, but I think many liars in general are. They are paying too much attention to what others want to hear, what would be most convenient to say, what would be consistent with the image they want to maintain, and so on.
posted by BigSky at 1:57 PM on September 5, 2007


LordSludge, is everything you've ever told us a lie?

I feel so confused....
posted by lodurr at 2:01 PM on September 5, 2007


I just read fezboy as saying "I am an invertebrate liar..."
posted by lodurr at 2:02 PM on September 5, 2007


Trust me on this one: Liars can get whatever they want, and there are more than you know who never feel any ill effects from it. (And wouldn't care one whit if you could prove to them that they're 'detached from their feelings' -- and it wouldn't matter anyway, since it's their behavior that's a problem for everyone else, not their feelings.)

What's your point?

In my original post I also said, "Blanton's recommendations are for those who want that sense of self-honesty and are willing to pay the price". Sociopaths don't have these issues so there is no reward and considerable cost. But what does that have to do with anything? I thought the topic was whether this had anything to offer and if it was workable. For the large non-sociopath population, at least.

And I find your claim that "Liars can get whatever they want" far too dubious to just trust you on. Narcissists, perhaps. Liar, though, is a much larger set.
posted by BigSky at 2:05 PM on September 5, 2007


The drive toward the formation of metaphors is the fundamental human drive..[snip]...This drive continually confuses the conceptual categories and cells by bringing forward new transferences, metaphors, and metonymies.

ludwig_van, yes, that's exactly it. And blacklite, my apologies. I did not — could not — know that I was speaking to you amongst all the other Yous. But reference the aforementioned Wilde or Nietzsche source material, and you will find (in all doffed-cap 'umble honesty) a less stringently indigo, more sparkling, far more rigorously plotted prose. But conversational? That's a comfortably roomy sort of interaction, and I think our stacked little soliloquies allow for omnifarious approaches to coact, compel or infuriate.
posted by Haruspex at 2:08 PM on September 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Why do you distinguish between narcissists and liars? Precisely, I mean. I'm sure you think they're different, but why?

It's true, though, it was too big of a claim. An exaggeration. A LIE.

The point, as you put it, is that it's not workable for the larger non-sociopath population, because it only takes a few wolves in disguise to make the flock an untenable unit.

(And by the way, I'm not talking about sociopaths. I'm talking about garden variety teenagers, sales reps and lotharios. Ordinary people. No sociopathy necessary.)

I also just have a really, really hard time buying Blanton's act. If he's a narcissist selling this trip to stroke his own ego, then he's also a liar, and he's manipulating the credulousness of people he's convinced to behave as though he's Radically Honest.
posted by lodurr at 2:13 PM on September 5, 2007


There is one way to find out if a man is honest; ask him! If he says yes you know he's crooked.
posted by sfenders at 2:17 PM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


The drive toward the formation of metaphors is the fundamental human drive..[snip]...This drive continually confuses the conceptual categories and cells by bringing forward new transferences, metaphors, and metonymies.

Not all statements are this hoighty toity or complex. If I say, "I have to work late," when in fact, it's a pretext for driving downtown to pick up a prostitute, then all this grand flim-flammery about the "human drive to metaphor" just falls flat on it's mealy-mouthed face.

Yes, yes. Some things are very complicated. Many other things are very simple. Facts are simple. The door to my refrigerator either is or isn't open. No elaborate spinning of narratives and metaphors required to parse out the truth of the statement.

I say, the least we can do is always be honest about facts.


It's true, though, it was too big of a claim. An exaggeration. A LIE.

Slippery-slope fallacy. Your blurring two subtlly distinct conceptual categories and declaring them logically equivalent. BS.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:21 PM on September 5, 2007


I just read fezboy as saying "I am an invertebrate liar..."

That's not my jellyfish. I don't know how it got in my pants.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:23 PM on September 5, 2007


Thanks for posting. I liked the article.

Seems like a lot of this comes down to your opinion about mankind. If you have a Hobbesian view of the world and think we're mainly wretched self-absorbed little bastards, then of course RH is unattractive: we should hide as much of that ugliness as possible under a veneer of etiquette.

More optimistic people (like this Blanton guy, presumably) would probably say that etiquette is just getting in the way of actual human contact and interaction, which is usually positive for both sides. And this is true because people are generally good and, more often than not, have positive intentions toward others.

It would be interesting to poll people to see if reaction to RH correlates to ideological / political affiliation. Because I bet said affiliations are often a result of that same view of mankind.
posted by molybdenum at 2:28 PM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


This thread has too many comments for me to read, but I want to join the discussion. Since I have nothing intelligent to add, I'm just adding this.

Feels good to see your name in the blue sometimes.

Oh, and interesting article.
posted by Outlawyr at 2:47 PM on September 5, 2007


I only pretend to be smart because, in reality, my perceived intelligence is the only thing that separates me from the hairless, filthy bipedal ape that I really am.

Also, I only post to MetaFilter because MeFi is the last place where I can glimpse a faint flickering spark of my own quickly diminishing humanity.

Truth or lie? You decide.
posted by Avenger at 3:14 PM on September 5, 2007


Thank God at least my girlfriend is honest.
posted by t2urner at 3:24 PM on September 5, 2007


+1 slimepuppy. A random rule is inherently more interesting, if equally insane.

As to the rest: tl;dr. Sorry! Not really
posted by topynate at 3:38 PM on September 5, 2007


You people are so gullible. When I went to the Radical Honesty website, I recognized the guy in the picture claiming to be "Brad Blanton". He's an improv comic in L.A. who I met at a Groundlings comedy class I took a long time ago. Hadn't talked to him in years, but I called him and he spilled the whole story. The original "Brad Blanton" is a TV sitcom writer (not real famous but you've probably seen his name on one of the better shows) who wrote the Radical Honesty book as a goof. He started out doing phone interviews (claiming to be 'visiting L.A.' to the callers) and when he first got a request for a media interview, he hired my acquaintance to be his 'face'. The Esquire writer wrote his whole article based on a press kit and then contacted "Brad" to get permission to publish his hoax (and THEN learned it was all a BIGGER hoax). After all, this is the same Esquire writer who did a piece in the First Person as God. They're going to officially deny this, but I have permission to put it here. The whole "Radical Honesty" schtick is gaining momentum (Performance Brad is going to be on Oprah) and the author liked the idea of a little web-viral controversy (and knows MetaFilter). The original author has talked about revealing the hoax after selling X number of books, but I don't know how serious he is. Anyway, fools, enjoy your "Radical Honesty", but remember, one of the easier ways to tell a liar is when he goes out of his way to tell you he's NOT lying. And I'm not lying.
posted by wendell at 3:39 PM on September 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


Shit, I should be a trainer of this! The combination of lack of social graces, tact, and impulse control often makes me radically honest whether I like it or not!
posted by schroedinger at 3:46 PM on September 5, 2007


Facts are simple.

I'd respectfully counter that facts are never simple, not unless artificially excised from context. Why is the refrigerator open? Does the pale throb of light silhouette the hulking outline of your significant other, reaching in for that throw-pillow sized hunk of Apple Crostada with Caramel Sauce leftover from a business lunch at Maggiano’s? Does the dismay, disgust and wickedly pleasurable self-righteousness curdle and rise in you enough to say: "Hey, baby, you're gonna' have a BMI greater than my bowling league record!"

Back to Blanton land.
posted by Haruspex at 3:49 PM on September 5, 2007


I'd respectfully counter that facts are never simple, not unless artificially excised from context.

funny, i'd look at it precisely the other way: facts are simple until they're artificially excised from context and turned into objects of theoretical navel-gazing.

Why is the refrigerator open?

my refrigerator door's closed, actually. so the answer is mu.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:55 PM on September 5, 2007


Mu is meh.

Behold the pithiness.
posted by Haruspex at 4:11 PM on September 5, 2007


Oh, one other thing. I don't have any idea what this whole "Wendell!" thing is all about.
posted by humannaire at 4:21 PM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think that most of you are trapped inside your mental road maps and wouldn't know real life if it came up and sucked the tapeworm out of your ass.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:23 PM on September 5, 2007


Honestly, I thought that was the dumbest article by A. J. Jacobs I’ve ever read. And I’ve read a bunch. I liked his book much better... although his next book sounds really stupid as well.

Jacobs is working on his next book, The Year of Living Biblically, based on his experiences attempting to live according to all the moral codes expressed in the Bible (from the well-known to the obscure) for one year, including one that prohibits trimming his facial hair. [wiki]

p.s. I once heard the All... I Learned in Kindergarten guy on the radio, saying he never actually went to kindergarten. So (unlike me in this post) he was lying.

p.p.s. Speaking of radical honesty, if the guy's name is Arnold Stephen Jacobs, Jr., why does he sign his articles A. J. Jacobs?
posted by LeLiLo at 4:27 PM on September 5, 2007



One key problem with this is that it is impossible to be completely honest as truth and feelings are difficult to pin down and frequently shifting.

The other, possibly more important, problem is that most of the people who espouse these views use the concept as a way of being cruel and humiliating and exerting power over others. They get to say what they want, regardless of the consequences to others-- and everyone else has to pick up the pieces. Then, if the other people are hurt, they can say "Oh I was just being honest." That sort of honesty is really a hidden way of expressing dominance-- thus, it's not actually honest at all.

Kindness and connectedness and the ability to collaborate are far more important than expressing the brief whim of "I want to fuck the nanny" or "I think your sister is hot" or "You are boring me to death." We humor each other because we all needed to be humored sometimes and reciprocity is critical to human social life.

When you ask your boyfriend "does my ass look fat in this?" you are really asking "Reassure me about our connection/ my attractiveness." You don't really want to know about your relative butt size. And relative butt size doesn't matter-- human connections do.

And they are often better expressed implicitly, not via language. Pretending that that meta-level of communication isn't there or should always be explicit isn't helpful. Social conventions exist for good reason. They work with how humans actually are, not some imagined utopian therapeutic society based on a misguided notion of emotions as trapped steam which must be released or the boiler will blow.
posted by Maias at 4:53 PM on September 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Here goes:

I wish more of you were my fans to prop up my dismally low self-image. I wish more women wanted to have sex with me for the same reason. I aslo wish more people found me vaguely hateful or offensive since I'd rather be a menace than a joke. But if I have to be a joke, I don't mind as long as I'm something. I think everybody's full of shit, but I also thing everybody's all right. I occasionaly wish I was braindamaged or mentally handicapped so people would expect less of me, since they already seem to expect too much and simultaneously expect too little.

I don't feel better at all.
posted by jonmc at 5:09 PM on September 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


Brad Blanton for Congress! (youtube)
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:24 PM on September 5, 2007


article was good, but i skipped the comments cos there were way to many of them.

funny, i lol'ed, but after reading this i actually started taking it seriously..

"..he tells me that telling the old man the truth would be compassionate, showing the "authentic caring underneath your usual intellectual bullshit and overvaluing of your critical judgment. Your lie is not useful to him... don't bullshit yourself about it being kind."

hmm, maybe i'll give this a shot. my thoughts are that there's an art to it, after a lifetime of bs'ing constantly, but that a good command of the english language would help and be helped by it.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 5:41 PM on September 5, 2007


No you don't.


Came late to the thread and just trying to reply to as many of you as I can.
posted by jaronson at 5:50 PM on September 5, 2007


I too was reminded of the Dice Man.
posted by stinkycheese at 5:56 PM on September 5, 2007


This honesty is more radical than I expected:

If we stand together we may not fall. To save life and control the weather, all humankind must stand together. That’s Co-Hearted Co-Intelligence, which is Human Photosynthesis. When people know how much you care, they care how much you know. Then, like jazz musicians improvising on each other’s themes, genius emerges and brilliant conscious creative action occurs in the world. Co-creative, co-hearted, coordinated co-intelligence…human photosynthesis!
posted by sfenders at 6:17 PM on September 5, 2007


238 comments is way more than im willing to read right now.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 6:21 PM on September 5, 2007


I think if I ever was in one of those situations where, say a child was dying and asked if there was a God, I'd probably lie there too since nothing positive comes of telling the truth.

I'm delighted that I get to show how well-read I am by likening this observation to the Twain short story "Was it Heaven? Or Hell?"

And now I intend to sit back and wait for people to read to the end of this thread, hoping they will favorite me.

Twain was big on the hypocrisy of virtuous people, btw -- see also "The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg."

/Twain groupie who craves the approbation of her peers
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:27 PM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Whoops: that first paragraph above was quoting kigpig.
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:28 PM on September 5, 2007


An astute call on Twain, GrammarMosesHuckleberry Finn contains much discussion of lying and admirable deceits. There's even a taxonomy of the kinds of lies and their respective purposes; my favorite lie is the "stretcher what hurts no one but gets the job done."

Also, there's Melville's The Confidence Man, a relentless flensing of humanity's myriad self-deceptions by bitter parable — which is itself a sort of relevatory lying.

It's characteristic that those authors most receptive to the art of lying are apt to be the ones most contemptuous of outright hypocrisy.
posted by Haruspex at 6:56 PM on September 5, 2007


I once had a boss who was a consummate liar. We'll call him Albert. Any resemblance to his real name is intentional. He lied about everything and I really really mean everything. If it would have been easier to answer a question honestly he would still lie.

He rode his employees hard but was really just a telephone tough guy.

I hadn't been working for him long when he took me aside and asks me to "do him a favour" and tell the client we were giving two coats of paint when in reality, as per Albert's orders, were delivering one.

I was offended by the request and turned on him instantly and rather viciously ... "LOOK" I said, as I put my entire five ten, hundred and fifty pound frame on war footing, towering and in his face launched into tirade;

"If you want to fuck the client over, go for it, but there is no fucking way I will be your lying lackey. When the client is dissatisfied, and he will be, you will hang me out to dry, NO FUCKING WAY! If the client asks me anything he will get an exact answer. THAT'S IT!"

(imagine more agitation, profanity and a stunned look on pudgy Albert's face as he tries to back away from me)

He never tried me again. He would do it to other painters, who would then come to see me and relay the message of what we were to say ... I would tell them they had just proven to the boss they were liars, untrustworthy and would be checked up on. I wasn't playing that game.

They would then get all nervous ... but it served them right for believing the lie would put them in the good graces of the boss. Instead they got manipulated. I got a lot of independence and was always given work while others sometimes went for weeks without working. Plus, I also got sent to work on the higher quality projects.

Not sure exactly where I'm headed with this, I guess it's one of those things where I really don't care how others conduct themselves, I don't give a shit about rank or position and would quit on the spot rather than do something I disagree with.

According to the article though, I would appear to be a liar because I failed to mention my desire to bang his daughter, nail his wife and kick him in the balls.

In my experience, people who seem not have a filter between drivel driven gaping maw and thought aren't lacking a filter, it's a conscientious brain that is missing.

If the Nazis wanted Helen Keller ... I would probably turn her over.
posted by phoque at 7:10 PM on September 5, 2007


And yes, I charged him $300 for the date. (I knew someone was going to go there so I'm nipping it in the bud.)
posted by miss lynnster at 11:30 AM on September 5

So basically you were skeezed out by him being right?


No, it's called I WAS JOKING ON METAFILTER.

Seriously, based on the persona you project on MeFi, if I met you in person, I might believe you were a working girl too. But that's not an insult.

You only are offended because of your own prejudices... I, and perhaps your date, find nothing wrong with sex workers and their profession. I think prostitution should be legal and taxed and regulated, just like any other service industry.

Of course, I'd pay just to listen to you sing, because you're damn good. Getting to see you naked would just be a welcome bonus. However, getting paid to perform art is really just another kind of prostitution, but we'll save that discussion for another day.


Uhhh... huh? What? I am a singer in the way Ella Fitzgerald was a singer, do you consider her a prostitute too? Just because men project fantasies on women, that absolutely doesn't make us responsible for them or mean that they have anything to do with us. If anything, sometimes it stands in the way because it gets very tiring to be trying your best at something and to then be only judged on your boobs.

Anyhow, I'm actually not prejudiced. One of my oldest friends is the receptionist at a brothel in Sydney & one of my favorite neighbors in my 20s was a high class call girl. Love 'em both as friends. As a woman I'm gonna have to assure you guys that the reason the comment hurt me was for different reasons than the feminist thoughts you are attributing to me.

It's cuz he was being a tool.

/derail
posted by miss lynnster at 8:12 PM on September 5, 2007


Salvia has a small font.

I never will skip, being myself. Authentic self is non-negotiable. Being honest doesn't mean being rude. In regards to the necessity of being with people, if you want to be "with" people, you don't have to bark or bite to communicate, unless you are a dog.
posted by Oyéah at 8:17 PM on September 5, 2007


lodurr,

I distinguished between narcissists and garden variety liars in answer to your claim that liars can get anything they want. They can't. There may be some small subset that don't want anything beyond what they can acquire through manipulation. Fine. I can't rule out that possibility and anyone of that description can be called a narcissist. The distinction has no significance beyond replying to that point.

I'm not sure we're talking to each other. To recapitulate:

1. I state Blanton's approach has value for those who want greater self honesty and who are willing to pay the social cost. Furthermore I suspect the social cost is exaggerated by some of the critics.

2. You reply liars can get whatever they want and since they don't feel any ill effects from their lying, they aren't incurring any psychological cost.

3. WTF dude? I repeated that Blanton's approach is for those who want to make this trade. The question is whether this is a realistic possibility for those interested.

4. Your position at this point is, I think, that if people want to do this they can't. It is an untenable course of action because the liars will take over. Whether it would benefit the well being of the person doing it is unaddressed as is the social cost of doing so (beyond the ruin of the social order from the depredations of those predatory liars).

Does that cover it?

So the liars would have an advantage in certain spheres of action if we were to all embrace honesty more deeply. OK. How is that different from the status quo? They already do have an advantage. According to your earlier post you believe that liars can get anything they want right now. Well, shit. If that's how it is, what would change?

Where I suspect we have a real disagreement is on the degree of advantage. There's times when people compete, in the sense of a zero sum game, and there's time when they cooperate. The stronger the focus on competition the greater the value of deception. Outside of certain severe environments and extreme situations, the degree to which we focus on competition vs. cooperation and vice versa is largely self determined. It seems to me that the more one focuses on acquiring scarce resources and attaining a higher social position the more likely one is to view life as a zero sum game. In other words, I don't think deception has the same utility for everybody.

Commitment to honesty does not mean turning into some mewling babe in the woods. No one has to offer up advantage to those they suspect are hostile. People can refuse to talk or associate with those they don't trust. Some of the comments make it sound like doing this is akin to taking truth serum and being unable to leave an interrogation. Hardly.

Would it handicap a Hollywood agent, or a political campaign manager? I don't really know, but I guess it would. So what? Many others will somehow get along just fine.

I also just have a really, really hard time buying Blanton's act. If he's a narcissist selling this trip to stroke his own ego, then he's also a liar, and he's manipulating the credulousness of people he's convinced to behave as though he's Radically Honest.

Whatever. I'm not interested in speculating on his motives. What I do find interesting is that you haven't put out any evidence that (a) Blanton is a narcissist and (b) if Blanton is a narcissist that he has lied about his narcissism.

Just planting seeds, huh?
posted by BigSky at 8:40 PM on September 5, 2007


Trust me on this one: Liars can get whatever they want, and there are more than you know who never feel any ill effects from it. (And wouldn't care one whit if you could prove to them that they're 'detached from their feelings' -- and it wouldn't matter anyway, since it's their behavior that's a problem for everyone else, not their feelings.)

Again, this is the age-old problem of Justice. Your position here is contrary to that of Socrates (not that I find Socrates/Plato particular convincing here).


We humor each other because we all needed to be humored sometimes and reciprocity is critical to human social life.

Yeah, I think this is key. And it turns out that reciprocal altruism is a very effective strategy in the long run.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:50 PM on September 5, 2007


I have a fear that if he were ever elected, Ron Paul would say "ha ha, fooled you!" and declare himself King Paul I.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 8:55 PM on September 5, 2007


I was traumatized by a chicken as a child, which is part of why I like to eat them so much.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 8:57 PM on September 5, 2007


I have given homework help in exchange for dates.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 9:03 PM on September 5, 2007


There, I really do feel better!
posted by StrikeTheViol at 9:05 PM on September 5, 2007


The Brad Blanton for Congress! link had a nice moment after he said he had sold his house. After a pause he said, "and I want you to sell yours too." He was embarrassed to have said it. There is freedom in being willing to embarrass yourself. You become harder to manipulate.
posted by pointilist at 9:08 PM on September 5, 2007


Oh no way! I didn't put it together until I saw the YouTube clip. I saw this guy on the Daily Show, I TOTALLY remember him! I've never seen anyone surrounded by people so unable to hide the constant discomfort he instills in them.

I mean, his honesty is an amazing thing that's clearly rubbed off on his community... because even the people working on his election campaign, when asked if they would vote for him, said, "Uhhh, probably not."
posted by miss lynnster at 10:27 PM on September 5, 2007


I only pretend to be smart because, in reality, my perceived intelligence is the only thing that separates me from the hairless, filthy bipedal ape that I really am.

Also, I only post to MetaFilter because MeFi is the last place where I can glimpse a faint flickering spark of my own quickly diminishing humanity.

Truth or lie? You decide.


I was drunk when I posted that. True story.
posted by Avenger at 11:58 PM on September 5, 2007


If you're going to be radically honest, be very very drunk, but make sure that the other person is just a little bit drunker than you.

Or, you know, just skip it and live like a human being, nipples-deep in the chaos, where nothing mental or social is really entirely on/off, black/white, or honest/dishonest.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:25 AM on September 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


I thought about posting something radically honest in this thread, but I don't want to get banned only a couple of days after registering, have wasted $5, and have to think up another clever-clever but not very funny nickname to post under when I re-register.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 4:26 AM on September 6, 2007


I'm not even going to bother to read the above posts, even if that means I'm repeating a previous comment.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:44 AM on September 6, 2007


238 comments is way more than im willing to read right now.

I'm not even going to bother to read the above posts, even if that means I'm repeating a previous comment.


In any non-Radical Honesty thread, I would find these two comments to be staggeringly annoying. I know lots of people don't read the comments before posting, but I think it's self-important and unbecoming to actually admit it out loud. It's like thread-shitting to me.

I am aware that having a hardon for such a minuscule internet infraction, one committed on boards daily the world over, makes me an uptight shrew.

I do not ever type the word "minuscule" that I do not feel an tiny frisson of superiority for being able to properly spell it.

Saying things out loud that make me look like a uptight shrew, even if they are truth, is only refreshing to me for its novelty, and if I were really attempting RH, I would return to white lies, censoring myself, and general prevarication the very second the novelty wore off.
posted by pineapple at 5:02 AM on September 6, 2007


BigSky: Does that cover it?

No. I think you're being willfully dense.

RH-"lite", where you are as honest with yourself as you can be and behave like a human at other times, is a workable proposition. RH as a proposition for how to run a society, however, is completely untenable for many reasons -- "the liars will take over" being far from the most obvious, but in itself sufficient.

RH is one of those ideas that, like Objectivism, requires more or less everyone to be on board before it will work on a societal scale. And because the philosophy itself is inimical to human nature, that's not likely to ever happen.

What I do find interesting is that you haven't put out any evidence that (a) Blanton is a narcissist and (b) if Blanton is a narcissist that he has lied about his narcissism.

In the mode in which I've usually seen RH practised (and I have seen it practiced), it's usually deployed as a form of manipulation. Blanton's way of speaking is just like the con artists I've seen swinging the Radical Honesty axe, so I categorize him as most likely being of the same bent.

My "evidence" is my experience. You are certainly free to draw your own conclusions based on your own experience. Mine leads me to my conclusions, which you clearly disagree with.

I say, go for it. Be RH. See where it gets you. But at least be honest with yourself about it.
posted by lodurr at 5:20 AM on September 6, 2007


Thanks for pointing out the hoax, Wendell. Had a hunch they were both making it all up actually. But there are people who really think this way! They think that even though they're trapped in a cave watching shadows on a wall their whole life, they have the market cornered on objective truth- and that their point of view is the only correct one. Radical Narcissists abound.

The character should be given "Polonius" as his middle name, or maybe Raj Neesh. Brad Polonius Raj Neesh Rand Blanton. "Come join my macho honesty pissing contest- I don't care cause I'm gonna win" Blanton. Suitable for rabid top dogs only, until someone shoots them. People who think their emotions are, or ought to be engraved in stone (Especially their sexual feelings! Sheesh! Ephemeral much?) should all go and be whacked with a burning bush or something.
posted by Coaticass at 6:01 AM on September 6, 2007


By hoax I meant joke, honest.
posted by Coaticass at 6:02 AM on September 6, 2007


They think that even though they're trapped in a cave watching shadows on a wall their whole life, they have the market cornered on objective truth- and that their point of view is the only correct one. Radical Narcissists abound

There's also no shortage of self-serving, manipulative pricks who over-emphasize the ambiguity and subjectivity of reality to rationalize and post-hoc justify their sociopathic and anti-social tendencies. Absolute relativism is as much a form of this as any other absolutist posture.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:37 AM on September 6, 2007


Sure, no doubt about it. I've seen lots of those characters, too. And if you want to talk about them, we can do that as well.
posted by lodurr at 6:39 AM on September 6, 2007


lodurr: my comment was aimed only at coaticass and others who seem to be arguing in absolutist terms against even the possibility of honesty. i don't really need to talk about the characters you allude to. just wanted to offer a little balance.

posted by saulgoodman at 6:57 AM on September 6, 2007


hm.

The guy's right, and this goes perfectly with politics on the left. But most of us are not well educated, well to do white men and don't have the confidence or social power to live our personal lives this way. We are poor and without resources, so we lie to protect our physical well being or that of our children. We don't have the luxury, economic, physical or psychological, to marry five times or to tell our boss what we really think, because we are powerless.

This radical honesty needs to start with our public lives, not our private ones. Consider the fact that segregation in schools and housing is on the increase in the us while we have multicultural looking political advertisements and chastise people for using the word niggling. All this political correctness is essentially a social lie to mask the existing racism.

We won't begin the psychological process of being honest until we feel empowered to do so. That empowerment is political in nature, not psychological. So I think that we should focus on politics for now, not the removal of etiquette.
posted by By The Grace of God at 7:00 AM on September 6, 2007


Of course, I'd pay just to listen to you sing, because you're damn good. Getting to see you naked would just be a welcome bonus. However, getting paid to perform art is really just another kind of prostitution, but we'll save that discussion for another day.

Ever since last week every time I read one of these "let me explain to you what it means to be a woman in our world" things, I put it in the voice of Gene Simmons on Terry Gross. He was all, "I have the tongue of a goat and alllllll the money. I screwed four women a day every day for a period of seventeen years. Open your legs, Terry Gross, for our union is inevitable." Which, you know, given it was... Terry Gross. (And for that matter 50-year-old star-eye-makeup Gene Simmons.) Was hiLARious. He had this little indulgent chuckle he did that was perfect: totally intolerable. He figured out pretty quick that she hated it and then he did it again and again and again. I wish I'd heard the whole thing but I missed the part "after a break" because the grocery store was about to close. But yeah, this kind of discourse is excellent for proving your supremacy and appealing to the hens.

(I reeeeally resent "but yeah." "But yeah" is the worst thing on the tubes.)
posted by Don Pepino at 7:13 AM on September 6, 2007


Another confession: I browse 50+ comment threads in metafilter while using a Find for the word "favorite". If you say the word "favorite" in your comment, it will be more likely that it gets read (and favorited) by me and others like myself.
posted by tehloki at 7:58 AM on September 6, 2007


RH as a proposition for how to run a society, however, is completely untenable for many reasons -- "the liars will take over" being far from the most obvious, but in itself sufficient.

I don't know that it is a proposition for running a society. The article portrays it as nothing more than advice for personal relationships. I think Blanton says that everyone would be better off doing it, and that is a different thing from some utopian reorganization of society. At most it is a bottom-up approach, which by its very nature works just fine with a small number of adherents. But I don't know anyone who does buy into Radical Honesty or who has any experience with Blanton, perhaps there is more to it.

I'm sure many con man do like to play themselves up as being honest, and even more, to have their honesty be unquestioned. And yet I suspect that those who do commit to bringing more honesty in their lives are less gullible. I like pointilist's earlier comment, "There is freedom in being willing to embarrass yourself. You become harder to manipulate.". I've read a few accounts of con jobs, and more than that, I've been taken advantage of a few times myself. There is often a moment right before the victim gets fucked where he suspects that things are not right. That thought is often pushed back because it is painful to admit that you may have been fooled earlier and it is also difficult to face the expectations of the huckster when trust between the two is presupposed. Facing one's feelings and accepting the inevitability of confrontation makes people less likely to be conned. If Blanton is a con man then I am surprised he has attained any success. His shtick would work against itself.

But what I find to have value is what you are calling 'RH lite'. I think there is more room for discretion and courtesy than the article portrayed. And there may also be dimensions to it and Blanton's thinking that I don't know about and would find disagreeable if I did. To give one brief defense though, there may well be a real world difference between doing this with the intent to improve communication and sporting the demeanor to achieve undeclared goals.
posted by BigSky at 8:11 AM on September 6, 2007


tehloki is my favorite Mefite.

just testing to see if that works
posted by misha at 8:14 AM on September 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Only wimps water down Maker's Mark bourbon.

And I think RH wouldn’t work for me. Saying “Jesus, I’m really holding myself back from killing you right now” is sort of a conversation dampener.

That said, maybe it’s not exactly the truth when one says the coffee tastes like shit. Tastes differ. Seems like one could say “this coffee tastes like shit - to me.”

And indeed, where’s the line between attempting to justify one’s base urges (to oneself or outwardly) and informing someone of a useful truth or delivering useful criticism?

I mean, ok, he lets the dog lick his balls - so?
How’s that useful knowlege to me other than not letting him near my dog?
Perhaps I let the dog lick my balls and I’m more relaxed about that now? Is there some social compact to be created from that such that we have a beastiality society?
So do we then explore the legitimacy of exploiting animals sexually or does the statement sit there like a turd on the carpet?

I’m on board with Diogenes and the abhorrance of hypocracy (jacking off in public and saying “look, we all do it, what are we ashamed about”, et.al ) but I see it’s pretty much the latter. Diogenes was going somewhere, the statement of “truth” of him getting the dog to lick his balls (as metaphor for RH) is impotent.
There’s a difference between exploration and expiation of social or moral transgressions and merely exposing them as a beggar exposes a wound.

If you’re not going to actually ever fuck your wife’s sister if only because you don’t want to screw up your marriage or emotionally harm your wife, or whatever other internal reasons, etc. than how true is it to say you “want” to?
Obviously you prioritize your wants (from base to ephemeral) and accept feedback as well as give it with the caviat that it’s at least somewhat aimed at being useful rather than just blather about whatever pops into your head.
Probably the lack of such an ability is why the guy’s been married five times, unless of course that was by design.
Telling a buddy you want to sleep with your sister in law is one thing. Could even be a confession of sorts, and you can chew it over however you want reaching whatever catharsis you might seek even if it’s sleeping with your sister in law.

But mentioning - to your wife - that you want to sleep with your her sister is a self-delusion - possibly an attempt to reach such a goal with your wife’s acquiescence - more likely an attempt to exorcise the internal guilt one feels (which is an imposition on the reciever in a number of ways) but either way that information can’t be beneficial to the relationship unless it’s already been run through some sort of internal vetting.

Truth starts with oneself. And no one wants to see people make their psychic sausage in public.
(Although I think that’s been said - better - a number of ways in this thread.)
posted by Smedleyman at 8:23 AM on September 6, 2007


People who think their emotions are, or ought to be engraved in stone (Especially their sexual feelings! Sheesh! Ephemeral much?) should all go and be whacked with a burning bush or something.

It is especially because of people's sexual feelings that we need people to begin being more honest. That is if you want to stop all those awful things that are a result of the forced dishonesty.
posted by kigpig at 8:34 AM on September 6, 2007


Honesty, in general, is good. Bluntness can be good in the right setting. But Blanton's RH, at least as far as it's portrayed by this article, sounds to me like a particularly literal, self-serving and artless ploy for controlling the course of a conversation. He's got his own set of rules that the other party must play by or they're considered phonies or cowards, but those rules are flexible enough for him to cast aside when it comes to his taxes. It's a verbal dominance display and he's the biggest ape at the seminar.

Seriously. There was nothing insightful or original in the ideas presented by Blanton, and the author played a particularly naive character in his response to it all. I mean, I'm all for honesty myself - I just think it needs to be understood in a more complex and nuanced manner, and that it needn't be the only element in mind. Honesty shouldn't be pursued for the sake of honesty, but for the sake of communication, connection, truth, understanding and ultimately true friendship or a kind of love. Blanton's convinced his kind of blatant and irritating honesty is absolute when really it is just superficial. He avoids difficulties, and concentrates on style over substance.

He escapes the first obvious problem, whether to tell the Nazis that Anne is in the attic, by just excusing himself from having to face "governmental" issues altogether, which is really weak. So take it as a moral issue in general - whether to reveal something which could cause danger to another person, regardless of whether the other person is at fault - Kant's example, from 150 years before the Nazis, was when someone is being chased by a murderer, must you tell the murderer which way he went? Or can you lie about the whereabouts of the person now hiding? (Kant, by the way, argues that it is your duty to tell the truth nonetheless). Or really, reconfigure Socrates' original problem into one of honesty rather than "justice" - must you tell your friend where his weapon is when he is mad or drunk or a danger to himself?

He ignores the second problem, hurting people's feelings or being rude, by just claiming that that's their fault, that they should get over it. But this also misses the point of honesty - he is addressing the issue as if we only care about whether or not we are honest, not what we are honest for. But the point of being honest is that we get to know one another better, that we have more access to what we're dealing with and so forth - but it doesn't thereby automatically excuse any behavior. If I'm honest about my being an asshole, it's good of me to provide you with that information, rather than be a slimy type who pretends to be a friend but is secretly an asshole, but it doesn't excuse the fact that I'm still an asshole. These are two separate issues, and while being honest is a step in the right direction, it cannot be imagined to magically solve all problems. One thing it is good for is reminding you of what problems you have - if you have trouble being honest about something, then rather than it just being something you're comfortable being dishonest about, or something you blindly become comfortable being blunt about, it can become something you recognize as an area of difficulty in a relationship.

But really, most people are past this. Most people know why they have their little 10% problems with their wives or whatever, and are working on them - they don't need to be told to "just tell the truth". Maybe some folks need to be reminded that the goal is ultimately truth, and that we don't want to accept those 10% problems forever - we hope to work through things, and it is possible to make progress, etc. But most people, I think, understand that one shoots for honesty, and when a case arises where it really seems like being somewhat dishonest is a better route, it should make you really consider the judgments you're making to arrive at that decision.
posted by mdn at 9:35 AM on September 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Maybe some folks need to be reminded that the goal is ultimately truth...

Maybe the goal isn't ultimately truth. Maybe the goal is survival. Or love.

(Not that I disagree with you.)
posted by lodurr at 10:38 AM on September 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


The problem with the coffee was that it was weak. The whole thing that makes weak coffee bad is that it doesn't taste like anything. So the coffee canard is nothing but another of FamousHonestGuy's interminable lies. Most of them seem to center around caffeinated beverages. "Would you like to go for tea?" "This coffee tastes like shit." What must have happened to him in childhood that he can't be honest about hot pick-me-ups?
posted by Don Pepino at 12:07 PM on September 6, 2007


Ever since last week every time I read one of these "let me explain to you what it means to be a woman in our world" things, I put it in the voice of Gene Simmons on Terry Gross

Ahh this takes me back. Since they replayed a part of that now infamous interview over Labor Day weekend, I just had to go back and find ColfChef's original FPP to it. Good times, good times.
posted by psmealey at 1:24 PM on September 6, 2007


While I think it's important to be kind and compassionate, I don't understand the point of lying to protect other people's feelings. It assumes that we actually have control over how other people feel when in reality we only have control over how we feel. I can't hurt you if you don't let me and vice versa. There's also the question of why that person is looking to you for validation in the first place--if you think about it it's a strange thing to ask someone a question when you're emotionally tied to one particular answer.
posted by Kimberly at 3:46 PM on September 6, 2007


50-year-old star-eye-makeup Gene Simmons.)

Paul Stanley was the star-eyed one, Gene was the demon with the bat-wings on his eyes. Sheesh. First, Susie Bright confuses Colonel Klink & Sergeant Schultz and now this. What's wrong with you people?
posted by jonmc at 5:48 PM on September 6, 2007 [1 favorite]



Kimberly, are you serious? Do you really believe most people have such profound emotional control over themselves that a cutting comment won't hurt them "if they don't let it"?

I wish I could choose to not feel pain when people are mean to me. I can tell myself "don't worry," I can use all manner of cognitive tricks to attempt to calm my now over-active amygdala, but gosh darnit, I cannot prevent my lower brain regions from reacting to perceived insults or threats before my cortex can get in there and chill me out.

Particularly if the person who is being mean is someone I care about. Perhaps if I took enough heroin I might re-achieve this supreme state of not caring what people say to me, but that has a bunch of side effects that are problematic for me and my relationships.

If you are so secure in your life that you don't ever need reassurance or validation from others, that's great-- but us mere humans typically are a social and interdependent species and that means we require a sense that we are loved by those we care about and so we seek validation from others.

I think it's a myth that "you are all you need" and that "you shouldn't get your validation from other people." Where else are you going to get it from, as part of a social species? We evolved to need each other, for better or worse.
posted by Maias at 6:12 PM on September 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


We evolved to need each other, for better or worse.

i think it was more like we needed each other due to the external circumstances necessary for survival, and then we evolved to have tendencies that encouraged group cooperation. that's not to say we don't need those tendencies anymore, just that a lot of how we evolved fit different circumstances than those in which we may presently find ourselves.

also, evolution is a dynamic, on-going process. we're not just stuck with whatever evolution gave us "for better or worse" for all time. in fact, if we hold on too tightly to what evolution gives us in those "for worse" scenarios, it becomes maladaptive and we die.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:54 AM on September 7, 2007


I resent the fact that the only Knights in Satan's Service makeup that sticks in my memory is Peter Criss's so metal kittycat face. I appreciate Maias's remarks and concur and I do not quite resent but am baffled by the notion that the circumstances in which we presently find ourselves might be less cooperation-dependent than the circs back in the day when we were questing for fire and knapping flints all day. Take driving, where you're signing constantly to everybody else on the road and reading everyone else's cues at the same time. It's a big cooperative effort just travelling to and from work without getting pulped. One solipsist who opts out of the cooperative effort to check his voicemail messages in traffic can take himself and a pile of other people out of the gene pool in half a second.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:28 AM on September 7, 2007


Yeah, saul, there may be many legacies of evolution that we might be better off without (the pain of childbirth, for example: couldn't we have pouches like kangaroos?)... but cooperation and reciprocal altruism are about the last things I would include amongst them.

Humans wouldn't have evolved in the first place without the pre-existing evolution of group cooperative living in other primates-- it's not like we're descended directly from lizards or other things that don't parent their offspring. So it's not even correct to say we needed each other so then we evolved ways of dealing with that: group living evolved in our lineage before humans did.
posted by Maias at 12:52 PM on September 7, 2007


Kimberly, are you serious? Do you really believe most people have such profound emotional control over themselves that a cutting comment won't hurt them "if they don't let it"?

...

If you are so secure in your life that you don't ever need reassurance or validation from others, that's great-- but us mere humans typically are a social and interdependent species and that means we require a sense that we are loved by those we care about and so we seek validation from others.

I think it's a myth that "you are all you need" and that "you shouldn't get your validation from other people." Where else are you going to get it from, as part of a social species? We evolved to need each other, for better or worse.


This is wrong headed. I disagree with her in a few spots, but I prefer Kimberly's slant. No one can validate you. Look at how the word is conventionally used. Typically, it is placed in a context where the person seeking validation is a pathetic figure. "I want you to validate me." Is that a statement you, or anyone else for that matter, respects? It stinks of desperation. The one sided usage of the word in relation to interpersonal affairs, is not proof of anything. But it is suggestive.

You are conflating validation with love and support. Perhaps that isn't a meaningful distinction to you; it is to me. No one else can ever prove that you are worthy. There is no such calculus. If self worth (and self respect, which is similar if not synonymous) was derived from the reassurance of others, it would be far too feeble to be of benefit. Love and intimacy are not about telling someone what they want to hear. Kimberly is right in that when someone asks a question with a strong emotional investment in hearing one answer, there is something weird going on. Even with 'heavy' questions, "Do you love me?", I would much rather hear the truth than have my feelings pandered to. For the most part, I assume others are like me.

Surely you've heard the cliche, "You can't control what happens to you, but you can control your reaction."? It's pretty good advice. When someone makes a cutting comment to me, it hurts. Of course it does. Painful feelings come, and then they go. Should people stop saying things that cause me pain? Are disenchanted partners on AskMe told to stick around because ending the relationship would make their partner hurt? No one is going to live a life where they don't cause others some pain. They couldn't if they wanted to. It's the person who is hurting that chooses what they are going to believe about themselves. Agreed, you can't turn off your feelings and never again be in pain. But you can shape the meaning that you will associate with that moment. And many times it is the way the person chooses to interpret their experience that causes their pain. Especially the pain they continue to suffer some time after the shock of the event. If you weren't, all that you need, then no one ever born in misery would rise and be content. And yet some do, despite having received precious little, if any, reassurance and validation.

I don't believe that we do "need" each other. Many solitaries have fulfilling lives. That's not for most of us. Still, it's a matter of desire, not need. The relationship each of us has with ourself is the most important one, and that's not a relationship someone else can damage. Not unless we take their word on it over our own.
posted by BigSky at 8:33 PM on September 7, 2007


It was an interesting read, but I think society would fucking crumble if everyone did that. I am constantly hiding things. I don't tell people what I really think of them because then nobody would talk to me--I really don't like most people; I just pretend to be friendly to make the necessary interactions as not-unpleasant as possible. The few people I do like--I want even less to make them not want to talk to me just because they do something to annoy me or they say something I think is stupid or I had a sexual fantasy about them that would creep them out to hear about.

As an example: If you're one of those people who types in all lowercase all the time, I pretty much skip over your comments. I don't really care about the content; it's too annoying to read. I know it's probably not fair to judge you for it, since you could have a crippling hand disease that makes you unable to use the shift key, or English might not be your first language (although if your first language is German, you should know better. I saw someone actually give that as her excuse once, and, bitch, you capitalize the beginnings of sentences in German too, so that excuse is fucking pathetic--I'd have some sympathy if you were actually using German conventions for capitalization, but you aren't) or you might have never learned to really read or write and this is the best you can do, or you might only be thirteen and not know better. I don't know... but I'm still judging.

Yeah, not everybody does it as much as me. But pretty much everybody does it sometimes (I'm sure some do it much more), and we all get along better for it and I get through more days without wanting to stab someone in the face. I know I'm not such wonderful company that people don't do it around me, too.

I'm a little... relieved?... at wendell's comment further up about it being a hoax, but it's not like I followed the link, so I don't know if it really is or if he's just making shit up.
posted by Many bubbles at 10:31 PM on September 7, 2007


I don't believe that we do "need" each other. Many solitaries have fulfilling lives.

I sincerely doubt there really are any human "solitiaries". In the most simplistic analysis, the use of language implies an 'other' to hear it; we don't usually think of it that way, but I submit that most people who shun human interaction, simulate it somehow.

Humans are a social species. Many years of experimentation with other social species (rats, mice and monkeys are the only ones I've read about) has demonstrated degradation of the brainstem when social interaction was denied. And that's just talking about adults -- ignoring the fact that we'd end up useless basket cases if we were "reared" without maternal attention.

So, in a trivial sense, yes, we clearly do "need" one another. It's not really up for debate. The only interesting outstanding questions are "how badly" and "in what ways".
posted by lodurr at 5:52 PM on September 8, 2007


....wendell's comment further up about it being a hoax....

... you might want to re-read that comment again, and imagine it being said in the voice of Tommy Flanagan or Ian Shoals.
posted by lodurr at 5:54 PM on September 8, 2007


Exactly, lodurr. Though I don't think it's a trivial sense at all that we need each other: emotional and physical survival aren't trivial, but foundational.

And BigSky, I am well familiar with cognitive therapy and "reframing" and the fact that you can chose how you deal with your emotional reactions to what others do. And it's important to use those techniques to take care of yourself.

But the fact is, you cannot choose your emotional reactions themselves and other people who are considerate human beings should try to take that into account.

I am not saying people should pretend to love each other-- I am saying that if you *do* love someone, there are times when you have to be supportive even if you don't particularly feel like it at those moments. You might have to visit someone in the hospital when "honestly" you'd prefer to be at the beach. You might have to listen to them when they are boring you because they need to say that stuff to get their confidence up for something for work. You might have to say "You look fine" even when the person still looks like shit because they are recovering from something bad and they need to feel ok about something. And I don't believe that is dishonesty or wrong or something that should be avoided. Tact exists for good reason.

and the idea that only the desperate need validation is just more evidence of our cultural hatred of even the tiniest sign of dependence. deal with it, we're interdependent and it's not desperate or needy or wrong to embrace that fact rather than try to pretend it away.

in fact, i think it's one of cruelest hoaxes of our "therapy" culture that people try to sell us this bill of goods about people not needing relationships to be happy. You don't necessarily need romantic relationships, but if you don't have any relationships at all, you are missing out on many of the key elements that make for health and happiness for the vast majority of people. a lot of research finds that isolation is dangerous to mental health-- particularly extreme or prolonged isolation.
posted by Maias at 7:19 PM on September 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


yeah, you're right: without lying, what kind of constructive, healthy relationships could we possibly have? boy i'm sure glad i can rely on you guys' faultless moral compasses to set me straight, because it's all just so confusing.

maias: i got no problems with reciprocal altruism. i've even got no problems with keeping hurtful opinions to ourselves. but honesty is a better foundation for a relationship, because casual dishonesty (active dishonesty, i mean, as opposed to withholding hurtful judgments that are, let's face it, not really meaningful anyway since they're so subjective) is condescending and manipulative, and can gradually erode the possibility of the kind of trust that reciprocal altruism and all those other necessary things depend on. social taboos against lying exist because lying, with only a few exceptions, is anti-social.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:47 AM on September 10, 2007


And I'm glad we can rely on your steady, hyperbole-free characterizations! (Hey, this RH thing really is great, eh?)
posted by lodurr at 7:02 AM on September 10, 2007


Saul, that's all I was saying: keep hurtful opinions to yourself when they are not productive. And "lie" when you have to to do the right, supportive thing. These lies are the grease of social life: that's why they are called "white lies" and they are far from antisocial, they are in fact, essentially prosocial. And they probably massively outnumber the "antisocial" kind if you are talking about prevalence in day to day interactions.

I'm not saying you should lie about fundamental aspects of your relationship, I'm saying that "radical honesty" is stupid if it includes hurting people's feelings needlessly so that you can express a fleeting thought.
posted by Maias at 8:57 AM on September 10, 2007


phew! then we're in total agreement, maias.

lodurr: I didn't mean to tar everyone with the same brush. and sorry for any hyperbole. looking back, i suppose i just didn't take some of the more recent comments in their proper context.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:40 AM on September 10, 2007


Saul, I don't remember seeing you around here in the past. You're an unusual bird for this place, in that you seem to try to be thoughtful and balanced. So, no issues from my side if none from yours -- I was just poking you in the ribs a bit.
posted by lodurr at 10:48 AM on September 10, 2007


Maias,

When you say,

"And "lie" when you have to to do the right, supportive thing. These lies are the grease of social life: that's why they are called "white lies" and they are far from antisocial, they are in fact, essentially prosocial. And they probably massively outnumber the "antisocial" kind if you are talking about prevalence in day to day interactions."

it undermines your claimed agreement with saulgoodman. Or at least it does in my reading of his comment.

There's a difference between hearing someone play a piece of music and then commenting, without being addressed, "You suck." and when asked, saying, "I don't like it, it's not to my taste.". This isn't just a quibble, it's the heart of the matter. To say, "Saul, that's all I was saying: keep hurtful opinions to yourself when they are not productive. And "lie" ...", is disingenuous. I think saulgoodman is advising restraint for the former remark and going ahead with the second. And if it isn't his position, it is mine. Replacing the second remark with, "You sound good." or "I liked it." or "That's great" or whatever, is not showing respect and I don't consider it prosocial. These lies require a mind read, you imagine what the other person wants to hear, and feed it to them. Implicitly, you are treating them as an object and 'gaming' them. It's condescending and when the person knows they are being lied to, which is often, alienating. Honesty may hurt them, it may even end the relationship, but you are treating them as an equal who is entitled to their feelings, even if the other's expression of feelings makes you uncomfortable. This is real contact and I don't see how any intimacy can grow without it. Intimacy here is used in a much larger context than just 'romantic'. The same goes for all your examples: feeling conflicted when visiting someone in the hospital, telling a person they look bad, and the girlfriend hearing that her ass does indeed look fat. Honesty can make all of these situations go downhill fast, but not necessarily so. It is a caricature to claim that it will, as though being honest entailed contempt and a one up position. If anything, for reasons mentioned earlier, lying does. The truth does not have to be stated in the harshest ugliest manner and one can be honest to their desire to be a loving supportive presence in someone's life while telling the truth at the same time.

The article is naturally going to pick on the more sensational aspects, and I really don't know to what extent it is an accurate portrayal. But the example with the author's mother in law was a good example of where many would offer up some sort of white lie and the relationship is better served with telling the truth not an extra helping of grease.

On preview: OK. I see I misjudged saulgoodman's position. Fair enough. I'm a bit busy to do the editing so it's my take alone. And yeah, you've heard it all before...
posted by BigSky at 11:15 AM on September 10, 2007


And "lie" when you have to to do the right, supportive thing. These lies are the grease of social life: that's why they are called "white lies" and they are far from antisocial, they are in fact, essentially prosocial. And they probably massively outnumber the "antisocial" kind if you are talking about prevalence in day to day interactions.

well, looking back, i may have to qualify my agreement with this part of your comment, maias. i think these little white lies you describe can often lead to bigger lies, and i'm not sure they really do any long-term good even when they are genuinely benign. i say this as someone who once had a friend that considered cheating on her spouse to be a white lie. of course, i realize that probably falls within the category of "lie[s] about fundamental aspects of your relationship," but some people (particularly those with more general boundary confusion issues) have a hard-time making such distinctions, so i still think the general rule should be don't lie, but be gentle when delivering painful truths. now of course, in the unlikely event a would-be murderer stops you on the street to ask "Which way did my victim go?", it would be ridiculous to tell them the truth. That kind of white lie I can get behind. But not many others.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:20 PM on September 10, 2007


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