Applied Psychology

I Lie, Therefore I am: The Recovery Film Festival 2016 Presents Dishonesty – The Truth about Lies

Sep 16, 2016
Dishonesty – The Truth about Lies

The Recovery Film Festival 2016, in partnership with SACAP, presents Dishonesty – The Truth About Lies

Ask just about anyone to tell you about the values they hold dear, and most of us will include honesty.  The vast majority of us like to think of ourselves as honest people, even though this sits uncomfortably alongside the lies we all tell.

To ease that discomfort, we find many ways to rationalize lying so that we can still assert to others that we are honest.  We justify that most of the lies we tell are not ‘serious’; they are after all mainly white lies that help us to ‘harmlessly’ save face, or to avoid hurting or embarrassing someone else.  All too often, when we know we haven’t spoken the truth, we soothe ourselves with lines like: “Luckily, it was only a little fib” or “It wasn’t really a lie, I only bent the truth a little” or “Maybe, I exaggerated a bit, but….”

The lies we tell, and the fall-out of lying, is the thorny theme of the documentary, (Dis)Honesty — The Truth About Lies, which is to be screened at the Cape Town opening of the 2016 South African Recovery Film Festival. Directed by Yael Melamede and featuring Professor Dan Ariely, a psychology specialist and author of the best-selling book ‘The Honest Truth About Dishonesty’, the film takes a candid, provocative and highly entertaining look at how and why we lie, and to what effect.

The movie has a particular place in the context of a film festival focused on recovery from addiction.  Festival Director, Dougie Dudgeon, points out: “Honesty is so central to recovery.  People in recovery are constantly reminded of the great need for high levels of personal honesty.  This is often tough for them; especially, as this film makes clear, dishonesty is culturally enmeshed, excused and even, at times encouraged.”

Most of us think that we don’t have the kind of power to tell lies that can crash stock markets, topple governments, destroy corporations, decimate environments and start wars.  “However, the reality is that many of our more ‘ordinary lies’ can and do lead to devastating shame, loss of trust, financial ruin, broken relationships and a social isolation that can be hard to recover from”, says Kentse Radebe, Sociologist and Research Development Manager at SACAP (The South African College of Applied Psychology), who have once again partnered with the Festival to educate, entertain, inform and promote solutions and successes of Recovery from addiction.

With testimony from disgraced public figures as well as regular people and expert commentary, what (Dis)Honesty — The Truth About Lies highlights is that most disastrous fall-outs did not start with a great big whopper of an evil lie.  Instead, they start with the kind of ‘innocuous’ lies anyone of us have told which then became sleds that veered heedlessly down the proverbial slippery slope.

For many of the film’s participants, telling the truth about their lies was a cathartic experience, suggesting that confession plays an important part in reconciling ourselves to what we have done and putting us in the position of starting out again with a ‘clean slate’.

Of interest is that experiments featured in the film show that when we are thinking about the importance of being honest, we are less likely to lie and cheat.  And, it’s this ‘honesty consciousness’ that the filmmakers are promoting as a lasting effect of the movie.  The film is part of the ‘Dishonesty Project’, which includes school ethics initiatives, ethics training for businesses, and the public installation of a ‘truth box’ that invites people to step inside and tell the truth about a lie on camera.

The South African Recovery Film Festival 2016 will screen (Dis)Honesty — The Truth About Lies at 18h15 on Thursday, 22nd of September at the Labia Theatre on Orange Street and at 15h00 on Friday, 23rd of September at The Bioscope at 286 Fox Street, Johannesburg. Tickets cost R50 per show and are available from www.webtickets.co.za. To view the full programme visit www.southafricanrecoveryfilmfestival.com

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