The Corporate Law Group

Honesty

HonestyWe are saddened that honesty doesn’t get a lot of traction these days, despite it still being the best policy. Plagiarism, perjury, and perfidy are rampant. Yet business relies on honesty.

We’re not talking about texting, “on my way,” or writing, “the check’s in the mail.” We’re talking about telling the truth when it seems like lying might benefit us (hint, it never really does, even when you get away with it). Lying even under oath in a lawsuit. Lying about performing a contract when you know that you haven’t. Seeing a lie as a way to enrich yourself at the expense of someone more honest than you. Abusing the character of an opponent. Even replacing a great product or service with an Internet Water Army. Phony reviews for movies, books, and products, phony social media ‘friends,’ and phony twitter followers are common.

It’s refreshing now when you run into authenticity. Remember the switch in Miracle on 34th street? When the Macy’s Santa tells a customer that Gimbels has better ice skates, shoppers flock to Macy’s. Don’t you react well to honesty? Aren’t you disappointed when something is oversold and under-delivered?

And think about long term dishonesty. Outrageous predictions that go orphaned as soon as disproven. Any political promise ever made by any politician. Stupid ideas given credit and funding, resulting in utter waste. No one seems to own up to their mistakes or failed ideas. Remember Ehrlich’s 1968 prediction of global starvation from overpopulation in the 1980’s, or the 1975 Newsweek article on global cooling?

Technology and AI will help us fight the lie. There are several ‘tells’ that lies overuse, and therefore using some textual criticism, AI might help us identify the lie. And there’s some evidence that people are more cautious about lying in writing so the more things reduced to writing the more honest we become. In any case, even when it costs you, let’s all help Diogenes in his quest to find a single honest person. Own it when it costs you. It’s OK.