Sex, Lies and Memory. And Trust.

She says he sexually assaulted her. He categorically denies it.

Surely one of them must be lying, and a Senate hearing is the right place to get to the bottom of it.


I don’t usually write about current events, but sometimes a teachable moment arises that just begs to be waded into. So here we go.


Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast has two episodes (three and four, season 3) devoted to the issue of memory. His starting point is the memory that both he and a NYC neighbor have about their interactions on the morning of 9/11.

Both are utterly confident about their detailed recall: and yet each is at complete odds with the other. Clearly they cannot both be right. Clearly one must be lying – right? Yet each vehemently denies it.

Now let’s imagine two people trying to recall traumatic events of 30 years ago, when both were in their teens. One may have been very drunk, and may have behaved very badly toward the other. Or maybe not.

  • Is it possible that the accused acted so far out of character in his drunkenness that his unconscious blotted out the memory? (Not to mention plain old drunken blackout effects).
  • Is it possible that the accuser felt so traumatized by some event that her unconscious, talking to no one else over the years, scrambled dates, names, and even events?
  • What are the odds that either party has crystal-clear memories of what transpired at a teen-age party three decades ago? Is it possible that each might have subtly and unconsciously rewritten history just a tad?

Not only is it possible, it’s downright likely. Human memory is far from the tabula rasa we like to believe. The boundaries and limitations of eyewitnesses and their memory have been well discussed in the law.

A Tale of Plagiarism

I faced this myself. Years ago, in the midst presenting some material to a faculty at a well-respected US University, I was publicly and dramatically accused of plagiarism.

I was astonished, outraged, and indignant. I had done no such thing! The audience was entirely on my side, embarrassed on my behalf for the rudeness of the accuser.

Yet in the following four hours, doubt began to seep in. I slowly peeked back into the past, and realized that in fact I had taken some material, used it, and somewhere along the line forgotten to include the original citation. My accuser was right – to my horror!

By the end of the day, I publicly apologized to my hosts, and to the accuser.

I felt bewildered: what was happening to my memory, my ethics – my sanity.

But I have since learned that Malcolm Gladwell was right. Memories are very tricky things.

It is not at all impossible to believe that both Kavanaugh and Ford are utterly sincere. It is extremely unlikely, in my opinion, that one of them is “lying,” in the sense that we usually mean.

And yet, we are about to play out in public what is billed as a morality tale – but what is really a humanity tale.

The Court of Binary Opinion

A public senate hearing is about the worst place to find “the truth” about what happened. It is high stakes; it is being proposed in very little time; the pressure is enormous; it is as public as can be; there has been almost no investigatory work done. And yet it appears we’re about to pit one fallible human’s memory against another – ostensibly in the search for “truth.” What a débâcle.

Why is such a polarizing event about to take place? In one way, it fits with the increasing narrative of us-vs-them politics of division that is overwhelming us.

In Jonathan Haidt’s new and excellent book, The Coddling of the American Mind, he and co-author Greg Lukianoff identify three Great Untruths. One of them is “We are Right, and They are Wrong.”

Polarization, tribalism, victimhood and blamethrowing are all the death of a reasoned democracy. This event – billed by each side as The Truth vs. The Liar – can serve no good purpose, but will be one more false binary division of good people.

What can you do? Don’t get sucked in. Recognize that memory is fickle, that people are not all good or all evil, that “the truth” is rarely black and white. Most of all, don’t view the political theater about to be served up as a morality play, but rather as a sad example of our failure to see people as human, and to deal with them in human-respecting ways.



Trust, Lying and Apologies – the Brian Williams Case

UPDATE 9:30PM Feb 10: Since this post was first written, NBC News has suspended Brian Williams for 6 months. This will only heighten the buzz around something really not all that important (except to Wiliams, of  course).  He has become the gossip du jour, and I don’t see anyone achieving escape velocity beyond the obsession with “what should be done about him.”

That is SO the wrong question. The real question – and the one this blogpost originally set out to address – is “what are the learnings for all of us who find ourselves in positions of trust: what threatens our perceived trustworthiness? How do we keep trust?  And, can we recover trust lost – and how?”

That question is relevant to nearly everyone reading this blog. The question of whither Brian Williams will occupy magazine covers and water cooler chit chat for 10 days max, before Bruce Jenner knocks him off the hashtag list. But when that happens – what will we have learned from it? What will you have learned from it?


Original post Feb 8: The fate of US newscaster Brian Williams is still unknown at this writing. The facts as they are emerging suggest that truth was stretched, it was stretched by Williams, and it was not a blinding surprise to a lot of news insiders.

I’ll leave it to others to talk about ethics, or to predict Williams’ fate. But it does offer a teachable moment about human frailties, about apologies, and in particular how to recover – and how not to recover – from trust disasters.

Human Memory is Not Binary

Williams went from correctly recalling past events in the far past, to revising them more recently. While some people do consciously lie, it is much more common that we deceive ourselves, through a process of constant repetition of a story.

I can relate to this personally. I used someone else’s case study to round out a trio of cases I had created (I wrote the first two). Over years of using them, I somehow came to believe I had written all three. When confronted dramatically in a class session by none other than the real case author, I was at first righteously indignant. How dare you accuse me of plagiarism?  Yet over the course of the next 12 hours, I began to recall, and realized to my horror that that was exactly what I had done. And I had to completely eat my earlier words, taking full responsibility.

Just this past week, I wrote a sharply worded email to someone who had inappropriately used some intellectual property of mine on Slideshare, without attribution. He wrote back quickly in a tone of annoyance, disingenuously saying it wasn’t important and was aimed at a higher goal.  I wrote back even more sharply.

Less than 24 hours later, I received another email from the person, this time very clearly acknowledging the transgression, accepting full responsibility, and offering not only a correction but a form of restitution. I gratefully accepted, 100% – it was, after all, a totally proper apology. And I know, first hand, how easy it is to fool one’s own memory.

Something like this is almost certainly what’s happing with Brian Williams. His first halting attempt at apology suggested that he was involved in a higher mission, and that his intentions were good.

I strongly suspect Mr Williams is going through agonizing soul-searching right now, wondering how he could have possibly gotten things so wrong over the years. The word ‘hubris’ will be mentioned by others, and eventually I suspect he’ll see it in himself.

Trust and Apologies

There is a very simple rule, which is constantly violated by nearly all tellers-of-untruth. It is this:

Rule 1: Never, ever, under-estimate your responsibility for what happened.

  • If you were Richard Nixon, never refer to Watergate as “a two-bit burglary.”
  • If you were Bill Clinton, never suggest culpability depends on the meaning of the word ‘is.’
  • If you were Brian Williams, never suggest your error was justified by good intentions or a higher cause.

A corollary to the rule: the likelihood of your being condemned in the public’s eye increases with the square of the time you take to acknowledge Rule 1.

To recover trust, you must first acknowledge. It’s hard to over-acknowledge, and in fact we want and expect a bit of exaggeration of  responsibility – that’s how we know you “got it.” But it’s the kiss of death to under-estimate your responsibility.

And of course, you’ve got to do it soon.

Brian Williams may feel he bought himself time by voluntarily stepping down for “several days” as anchor.

My feeling is that he misunderstood the role of time; in this case, time is not on his side. He didn’t buy time – he squandered it.



Brutal Honesty Isn’t

I have to be brutally honest

Oh it’s brutal, all right. But it’s not honest. Real honesty is empathetic.  Here’s how.

I suppose you could be honest in a vacuum – but who cares?  Was Robinson Crusoe honest?  Until Friday came along, that was just a silly question. You can’t be usefully honest, except in relation to or with someone.

Honesty Implies a Relationship

If you’re honest with someone, then suddenly it’s about a relationship. You might be honest with them, or you could lie to them; both are a form of relationship.  The quality of your honesty affects the relationship, just as do the quality of your appearance, your manners, or your powers of observation.

If you’re in relationship, you may intend to honor and promote that relationship – or, you may choose to work against the relationship,  to take advantage of it for your own purposes, or disavow it, or destroy it. If your intentions are to further the relationship, then honesty – and any other theme – must serve that goal.

Positive Honesty

This is what we usually mean by honesty; telling someone something they will find helpful, sharing information with them in the hope that knowing it will give them a broader view, being open so as to be of service to them. And when we behave honestly with these motives, a collateral benefit is that the relationship itself improves.

If these are your motives in being honest, then you will strive to make the information useful, and able to be heard and understood by the recipient. After all, if the information you present is rejected, or causes resentment, then it cannot help the other person. Additionally, the relationship will be damaged. In being honest, you intend your message to be accepted. If the medicine needs a spoonful of sugar to go down, keep the sugar bowl handy.

Brutal Honesty

But what if your motives are other than to help the other person?  Suppose that, for reasons perhaps obscure even to yourself, your motives are to be right; or to prove that you had been right all along; or to provoke a violent reaction; or to cause pain. What is the effect in those cases?

The effect is almost always negative. The person rejects the advice, and the relationship is damaged, with each party going off muttering imprecations under their breath about the other.

But what about the times when we simply have to confront someone to get them to see the error of their ways? When there’s just no substitute for rubbing their face in it, for conducting an intervention, for shocking them into seeing the truth, which shall then of course set them free? This is what goes by the name of Brutal Honesty.

My experience is that for every 10 of those cases, maybe one works out. The others fizzle out and create havoc. The brutalized party rarely comes to full consciousness and thanks us for saving their soul. Instead, they just stop talking to us. At best.

Brutal honesty, then, is an oxymoron. If you are to be brutal, you will not long stay in relationship. If your view of improving relationships involves brutalizing them, you will not find many willing to travel that road with you.

If someone says to you, “I have to be brutally honest with you, ” say, “No, actually, you don’t. And I don’t have to hear it, either. Now, what was it you wanted to say?” And don’t overly weight what they tell you.

If you are ever tempted to tell someone, “I have to be brutally honest with you,” go hit yourself upside the head with a closed fist, to remind yourself how it feels to be brutalized.

Then ask yourself, “Do I care about this person and this relationship?  Then what do I have to share with them that is constructive, useful, and builds the relationship based on positive honesty?”

The Problem with Lying

Dilbert on trust and lying:


Scott Adams nails it.  With a sledgehammer, as usual. The pointy-haired boss is ethically clueless, and blatantly so.

We all get the joke, much the way we get the old George Burns line, “the most important thing in life is sincerity – if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

But sometimes it’s worth deconstructing the obvious to see just what makes it tick.  So at the risk of stepping on the laugh line, let’s have a go at it.

Lying and Credibility

The most obvious problem with lying is that it makes you wrong. Anyone who knows the truth then immediately knows, at a bare minimum, that you said something that is not the truth, aka wrong.

The shock to credibility extends even to denials. Think Nixon’s “I am not a crook,”  or Clinton’s “I did not have sex…” or the granddaddy of them all, the apocryphal Lyndon  Johnson story about getting an opponent to deny having had sexual relations with a pig. In each case, the denial forces us to consider the possibility of an alternate truth – and the damage is done.

But credibility is the least of it. There are two other corrosive aspects of lying: evasiveness, and motives.

Lying and Evasiveness

When you think someone is lying to you, you likely think, “Why is he saying that?” Evasive lying is rarely as direct as the Dilbert case; more often it shows up in white lies, lies of omission, or lies of deflection. “You know, you can’t really trust those damage reports anyway,” “I wouldn’t be too concerned about the service guarantee if I were you,” and so forth.

If the first response to a lie is to doubt that what is stated is the truth, then the second response is to wonder what the truth really is. And we sense evasiveness as we run down the list of alternate truths, each more negative than the last.

Lying and Motive

But the most damning aspect of lying is probably the doubt it casts on the liar’s motives. We move from “that’s not true!” to “I wonder what really is true,” to “why would he be saying such a thing?”

To doubt someone’s motives is to add an infinite loop to our concerns about the lie. First of all, motive goes beyond the lie, to the person telling the lie – who is now incontrovertibly a liar.

Second, the rarest of all motives for lying is an attempt to do a  greater good for another. Despite frequent claims that “I did it for (the kids / the parents / justice), almost all motives for lying turn out to be self-serving at root.  (Including the lies we tell ourselves about why we’re telling lies). Why would he do such a thing? Because there was something in it for him, that’s why! It’s almost always true.

And if people act toward us from selfish motives, then we know we have been treated as objects – as means to an end and not as ends in ourselves. This is unethical in the Kantian sense.

Worst of all, bad motives call everything else into question. “If he lied about this, then how can I know he was telling the truth about that? Or about anything else?” This is why perjury is a crime, and why casting doubt on someone’s character is a common way to counter their statements.

Recovering from Lies

We’ve all told lies. At least, everyone I know has. Okay, I have. We can often be forgiven, just as we can forgive others their lies to us. To forgive and to be forgiven, the liar must express recognition and contrition around the full extent of the lie, and then some.

This can be done more easily for the wounds of credibility and evasiveness. “I was wrong to do that, I know it, and I am sorry.” It is harder to forgive the part about motive, because it goes to something much deeper. How can someone be believed about changing their motives?  How easily can you change your own?


Lance Armstrong: Resigning to Spend More Time With His Family?

“I am resigning in order to spend more time with my family.”

That is what we hear from politicians when they depart under a cloud. Lance Armstrong was scarcely more original, “There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough,’ ” Armstrong said in a statement. “For me, that time is now.”

Armstrong protests that he has never been found guilty of doping, which is true. He has also insisted that he would never dope because to do so would jeopardize his career.

Richard Nixon said, “I am not a crook.” Bill Clinton “did not have sex with that woman.” Ronald Reagan, speaking of Iran Contra, said, “Mistakes were made.”

The one line we always wait to hear is the line we never hear: “I didn’t do it.”

Instead, we’re left with: “I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours, and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours,” Armstrong said, adding: “The toughest event in the world, where the strongest man wins. Nobody can ever change that.”

True. And yet not enough.

Lying is to Trust as Kryptonite is to Superman

That may sound self-evident. But lying isn’t the only way to kill trust. It’s useful to review the bidding, in order to realize just how potent lying is.

Then too, there are green kryptonite and red kryptonite forms of lying.

Read on.

Four Ways to Destroy Trust

Using the trust equation as a checklist suggests at least four generic ways to destroy someone’s trust in you:

  • Develop an erratic track record. That leads to a reputation for being flakey, undependable, that you can’t be counted on. Soon enough you’re losing the big jobs, then the little ones. All because you’re unreliable.
  • Abuse others’ confidences. Develop loose lips. Tell secrets. Make hay on inside information. Laugh at others’ misfortunes, or just be emotionally tone-deaf. The invitations will stop soon enough.
  • Use others for your own ends. Do unto others before they do unto you. Always be closing. Find the competitive advantage at every turn. Don’t let your guard down, and don’t be a chump. It’s better to receive than to give.
  • Put distance between yourself and the truth. There are white lies, bald-faced lies, lies of omission, half-truths, partial truths, packs of lies, and lies of convenience. They’re all kryptonite.

Which is the worst?  It’s hardly a walk-away, but I say the last one–lying.

Cold, Flat-Out, Straight-up Lies

Robert Whipple told me of the experience of being lied to, to his face, with full eye contact. That degree of trust destruction is strong enough to take effect instantly. Let’s examine why.

Obviously, if someone lies to you, you can’t believe what they’ve told you. Which means the next thing they tell you has to be suspect as well. Being lied to immediately ruins the speaker’s credibility.

But that’s just a start. Lying also infects reliability. Because if you tell me you’ll do something, but you’ve lied to me before, then I don’t know if I can trust you’ll do what you’ve said you’ll do.

Lying also affects intimacy and confidences. If you’ve lied to me, your motives are suspect. I’m not about to share confidential information with someone who’s been dishonest with me about their motives.

Finally, that same issue of motives makes me profoundly suspicious of your intentions. We do not assume people have lied to us for our own good, but rather for their good. And we do not like that.

Green and Red Kryptonite Lies

As is well known, krytponite of all forms is debilitating or lethal to Superman, but red kryptonite is more harmful. To extend the metaphor, which is more lethal to trust: a bald-faced lie, or a series of veiled, half-truths? I suggest that the latter is worse.

A flat out lie has two elements of truth: transparency and completeness. It’s all out there, right away. When Shaggy sings It Wasn’t Me, it’s such an in-your-face lie you have to laugh. The band-aid is ripped off the scab all at once. If you trust after that, it’s entirely your own fault. That’s green kryptonite.

Then there’s the really bad stuff – red kryptonite lying.

Red kryptonite lying consists of half-truths, incomplete truths, truths not told at the right time. It is often justified on the grounds that it isn’t green kryptonite: “I didn’t actually say anything that wasn’t true.”

Red kryptonite lying is riddled with layers of bad faith. It leaves the receiver with nagging doubt. Why did he not tell me the whole truth? Why did she not bring this to my attention earlier? What about all the other questions this raises?

One trouble with red kryptonite truth is the nagging doubt it leaves you with – the lack of resolution about the issue at hand.

But perhaps the worst nagging doubt is about the nature of the liar himself. Is the liar incompetent? Or is he dishonest? Does the liar even know the difference? Finally – does the liar even know he is lying?

It is sometimes said that the best salespeople are those who can first sell themselves. Indeed, some high-selling salespeople have that ability; but I wouldn’t trust them.

Buyers are Liars. Wait, What?

Want to do an interesting online search? Fire up your favorite browser and go looking for “Buyers are Liars.”

It’s a common phrase in several industries—car sales and real estate, for example. In each of those industries, you can find two related-but-different versions of that phrase.

In version one, it is usually spoken by a resentful salesperson, as in, “Can you believe that guy? He told me he would be right back within the hour, but, well, you know—they walk out the door, they’re gone. Buyers are liars.”

In version two, a more seasoned seller, often in conversation with a young trainee, speaks it. It goes, “If they say they want a cul de sac, brick construction, east-facing kitchen—don’t believe it. Maybe one of those is key—the others they’ll compromise on, because you know, buyers are liars. You have to find out what they really want, they don’t know themselves. They don’t mean to lie; that’s just how they think.”

Both views are right. And both are reflections of businesses in which the seller holds a lot of power by virtue of expertise and a potentially menacing and arcane sales process. Not surprisingly, buyers respond with their own attempt to control the situation—withholding or otherwise manipulating the truth.

This is precisely the dynamic I’ve observed over the years in watching clients buy professional services. Clients have not been to buyers’ school. They don’t know what to ask, but are afraid of being flim-flammed. So they resort to what feels low-risk—asking the seller to recite their qualifications and testimonials.

The weaker salespeople take the potential client at face value, and actually believe they want to hear the selling firm’s resumes and past client history. Then follows the sleep-inducing recitation and powerpoint avalanche.

Do client buyers lie? Yes, and mainly it’s the services firms’ fault. The trick is to get to that place of mutual admission that there’s something each can bring to the party.

What about a very different industry?

A University of Texas study explores the “buyers are liars” theme in the market for entrepreneurial firms, often by private equity buyers. As the study’s author, Melissa Graebner, puts it:

… buyers were not only less trusting than sellers, they were more likely to be dishonest. Beyond price bluffing, several buyers engaged in what Graebner calls "material deception" with regard to their plans for post-integration "layoffs, changes in strategic direction or diminished roles for senior managers."

Sellers—generally smaller firms owned by the person who created them—appeared far more trusting of suitors. Little surprise, perhaps, given the passionate, conquering nature of entrepreneurs: "Me big geek," one seller told Graebner. "I’m a technologist. I want to build something that I want everyone to use. I want my ego boost! I’m not here for a quick buck, I’m here to do my big thing."

Another reason for the trust gap between buyers and sellers, notes Graebner, is the perceived transfer of power. "In the course of an acquisition, sellers lose power while buyers gain power," she says. "Given their prospects of heightened power, buyers viewed a seller’s trustworthiness as nonessential."

In car and real estate sales, I would say the seller has most of the power, and customers lie out of fear, recognizing that fact.

In professional services, it is the clients/buyers who often hold more power, yet don’t know it; so they also act from fear—with a result that is often harmful to both parties. The advertising industry may be an extreme example lately.

In Graebner’s study, I think the buyer has the most power again; but here the ego weakness is on the part of the seller, not the buyer. And it’s not fear that’s afoot, it’s a desire for ego stroking.

Sellers want to believe they can trust the buyer. And so many buyers, who truly do have the power, choose to lie.

Are buyers liars? Yes, but as a current movie says: it’s complicated.

You Lying, Cheating Dog, You

Most of us lie, at least a touch.  Maybe cheat a little bit, too.

But it’s interesting to explore just why, and when, we do so. That’s the subject of a charming little piece in the current Harvard Business Review (February 2008, paper only) called “How Honest People Cheat,” by Dan Ariely.

A simple experiment. Give a few thousand people math problems to solve for money. Use a control group to establish average scores. Then rip up the exams in front of the test groups, and ask them to self-report how well they did.

The control group got 4 of 20 right. The test groups, on average, reported getting 6 of 20 right. By one measure, they cheated by 50%. By another, they cheated 12.5% of the available opportunity to cheat.

Then the researchers made it interesting.

1. They varied the risk of getting caught. Result? No change at all.

2. They substituted poker chips (redeemable later for money) for money itself. Result: a doubling of cheating.

3. They preceded the test by having participants reflect on their own standards of honesty, e.g. the Ten Commandments or an honor system. Result: complete cessation of cheating.

Ariely draws three conclusions:

1. Most of us will cheat a little, given the opportunity
2. Our consciences impose limits even when there’s no risk of sanctions
3. Non-monetary exchanges allow people to cheat more, e.g. backdating stock options.

Ariely seems to make the most of the third one, suggesting it explains Enron, for example.

I would emphasize it another way.  This elegant little study suggests that the threat of individual punishment carries far less weight than does the exhortation to do right by a group norm.

Now, it’s quite a leap from a small study to suggesting that prisons should focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment and retribution—but that’s the direction.

It’s a leap to say that white collar crime will be deterred less by Elliot Spitzer-like prosecutions than by airing criminal behavior to the disapproval of a broad public—but that’s the direction.

If you can’t trust someone, do you follow Ronald Reagan and “trust, but verify?”  Or do you have a sit-down with them about their responsibilities to be trustworthy? Let’s just say this study is anti-Reagan. 

At root, this study reminds us that much of individual behavior is not explained by that old economist standby, the “rational, self-aggrandizing homo economicus,” who does all that he does in order to improve his own economic well-being.

It suggests that human beings are also—very much—social creatures. We even build our own personal values systems (aka consciences) based on our sense of what furthers our relationships to other human beings.

Is that so hard to understand? 

Trust and Radical Honesty

The July, 2007 issue of Esquire (not yet online as of this date) has a story called “I Think You’re Fat,” by A. J. Jacobs. It asks—and answers—the age-old question, what do you say when your wife asks you if this dress makes her look fat?

And that’s just for openers.

It describes writer Jacobs’ encounters with a movement called Radical Honesty; actually, with its founder Brad Blanton. And it’s a trip.

Trust Matters readers know I’ve written about honesty and lying before (most recently with Andrea Howe in Truth, Lies and Unicorns.)

But Blanton takes it to another level. Higher? Well, certainly a different level.

Blanton urges—and lives by—a very simple rule. Flat-out, no holds-barred, absolute, unquestioned honesty. About everything. Period. Open mouth, exit thought. No excuses, no caveats, no handholding, no cover-ups, no being nice. Just truth.

Author Jacobs confesses a white lie he told someone to avoid hurting that person. Blanton’s take on it: “Your lie is not useful to him. It’s simply avoiding responsibility. That’s okay. But don’t bullshit yourself about it being kind.”

Blanton’s got his own site, books and programs. He’s ex-Esalen, about 60, and a gruff hedonist, among other things. Easy to be put off by, but hard not to like. Here are some of his own words:

The heart of the message of Radical Honesty is that we can come to recognize each other as beings in common. We do this by being honest and by demanding honesty from others. This is the fundamental faith of both Radical Honesty and it’s corollary religion, Futilitarianism…Futilitarianism is about the futility of any belief whatsoever…

…beings who relate as beings, one to another, can work out the problems that come from having minds and personalities and cultural and religious and traditional differences, since those differences are all bullshit anyway! We can change how we live together by acknowledging the being we are, (nothing mysterious or mystical—just the sensate being in the body), as the universal context in which the mind occurs. We recognize each other as alike. One pathetic, mind-controlled, culturally conditioned pitiful sonofabitch, anywhere in the world, looks just about like another. Underneath all that confusing and alienating bullshit we are beings in common.

Who I am, is a present-tense, noticing being, and the idea of me—my case history and culture and values and beliefs—is secondary to my fundamental identity as a noticing, present-tense being. I can see, at the same time, that this is true for everyone else. I relate to everyone else as equals in this way. I relate to these fellow beings by being true to my own experience. This being-to-being relatedness is what allows me to make compassionate, collective decisions with my fellow cripples—I mean human beings.

Think you can justify not telling your spouse something? The white lie to your subordinate? The truth about your attraction to your office-mate?
Go ahead, test it. Check out Blanton.

You may not agree with him, but you’ll have a helluva hard time justifying why you don’t.