Coming as no surprise to Socrates, who banished artists from his utopian Republic, Dan Ariely of Duke University probes the nature of the dishonest mind his is new book, The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty and finds such a mind is rich in creativity. Creativity provides the flexibility to tell ourselves a better story and dishonesty is all about rationalization. That’s why people found guilty of outrageous acts continue to see themselves as honest folks who are either misunderstood or victims of misfortune. Bernie Madoff, the portfolio advisor who gulled many investors, including his closest friends, is a prime example of someone who deluded himself until he was on the slippery slope to disaster. If Madoff had faced the truth about his corruption, Ariely writes, the man would have anticipated the end and “found a nice island somewhere with no extradition rules…” (Ibid pg. 27)
Having dealt with the criminal justice system as an elected official, I can testify that offenders rarely admit their guilt and never imagine they’ll be caught in any wrong-doing. If people’s minds worked that way, Texas, having the highest number of executions in the country, would be emptied of murderers by now. But the violence keeps coming.
That creativity should be a prime element of the dishonest mind, above passion, greed or a desire for power, comes as a surprise, however. Ariely’s book gives us artists something to think about. We could be walking on the dark side.
(Courtesy of www.kenburtonstory.com)