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Why is honesty important?

Most of us are honest most of the time.

Why is that? Because when we are, we are able to work more effectively together. We are able to exchange ideas, to transfer money, build teams, and create entire companies that save lives and make the world better, all because we are honest. Our honesty allows us to form alliances to better survive the challenges of life. Dishonesty, and the subsequent disinformation, mucks that all up. It provides unnecessary friction and uncertainty that prevents us from making the best choices.

Image by Gordon Johnson

Is honesty all we need?

You’ve probably thought of a number of arguments as to why honesty isn’t ‘always the best policy.’ Sometimes sharing honest information may be more harmful than not. Sometimes your honesty may be used against you in some way. In a very real-life sense, we need to know that if we are too honest with those who might use this against us, we’ll have a more difficult time being honest at other times. It is a game of catch-22, where if we do not play it well then we lose, but if we play it too well, we also lose. So, in a seemingly dizzyingly profound paradox, we have to be honest about the effective use honesty.

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