Why do we lie?
Because we are frightened of being humiliated, being treated like an object, being rejected, losing control of things, and, most of all, we are frightened of uncertainty. Often we get our lies in before any of these things can happen. We lie to maintain our vanity. We lie when we call our fantasies the truth. Lying is much easier than searching for the truth and accepting it, no matter how inconvenient it is. We lie to others, and, even worse, we lie to ourselves.
In both private and public life, we damage ourselves with our lies, and we damage other people. Lies destroy mutual trust, and fragment our sense of who we are.
Lies have played a major part in climate change and the global economic crisis. Fearing to change how they live, many people prefer to continue lying rather than acknowledge that we are facing a very uncertain but undoubtedly unpleasant future unless we learn how to prefer the truths of the real world in which we live rather than the comforting lies that ultimately betray us. We are capable of changing, but will we choose to do this?
Reviews of Why We Lie: The Source of our Disasters
- ‘Rowe asks why we tell lies and puts the answer down to a mixture of vanity and terror.…all pretty toxic, as far as personal relationships are concerned, but Rowe goes further: our failure to tell the truth is behind all manner of ills, from the current economic crisis to global warming…scary stuff, but Rowe is so wise that you begin to think it might be possible to change’ Guardian
- ‘Rowe has a clear, easy style…[she] is accurate in her perceptions, and persuasive in her presentation of them…she paints a nuanced picture of why lying is always dangerous, and why we should cultivate an attitude of considered scepticism’ TLS
- ‘Her analysis is gripping, astute and incisive…parts of this book are hilarious’ FT
- ‘[A] seer… with qualities that place her between sainthood and genius’ Fay Weldon