Unraveling the Web of Deception
We fool people all the time. Whether with bad intent or not, deception has become a common practice in today's society. While modern tools such as texting, social media and the internet at large have all made the practice easier, deception in its most basic form goes back to Man's beginning. Some believe it to be an assertion of power while others claim it's in our blood- a practice born out of our species' need to cooperate in order to survive.
Indeed we see deceptive behavior in even the most basic of life forms. Bacteria manipulate each other by sending misleading chemical signals. Male spiders deceive females during mating practices with the promise of gifts that are never delivered. Monkeys fool their human handlers in ways that would make a Vegas stage magician scratch his head and even robots, in certain computer models, have displayed behaviors resembling intentional misdirection. But while it seems there's no end to these feats of animal trickery, the only species yet capable of lying to itself remains the kind that's reading these words.
We've been taught that lying is wrong. The very word "Lie" evokes a knee jerk reaction of disapproval and mistrust. But are all lies bad, and would we really want to live in a world without them? These are just a couple of the questions we'll tackle in this hour as our experts unravel the web of deception.
Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show, which originally aired on December 23, 2014.
- Michael Lynch - Professor of Philosophy and Director of The Humanities Institute at The University of Connecticut. Author of The Knowledge Machine: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data
- Sam Harris - Author of Lying and The Moral Landscape. He holds a Ph.D in neuroscience from U.C.L.A. and a degree in philosophy from Stanford.
- Ralph Keyes- A lecturer, essayist and author of many books including The Post-Truth Era: Dishonesty and Deception in Contemporary Life
- Luke McNally - Ph.D student and researcher at Trinity College Dublin studying behavioral evolution and Biodiversity. He's the co-author of the article Cooperation Creates Selection For Tactical Deception