Ming the Mechanic spotted an interesting article in the September/October 2004 issue of Across the Board. "Questioning Authority" is an interview with David Livingstone Smith, director of the New England Institute for Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Psychology.
Deception would appear to be the norm rather than the exception in business. It is so commonplace on Madison Avenue that an advertising industry without it is hard to imagine. Anyone attempting to overcome sales resistance has got to be a good manipulator-that is, a good liar. For instance, successful politicians are better at lying than others. People say they want an honest politician, but I'm not convinced how genuine that is. What they really mean is that they don't want to be taken advantage of. But if a politician's dishonesty is to people's benefit, they tend not to consider it dishonesty. Of course, no politician would say he's good at lying. None of us would say that. To advertise one's own dishonesty is social suicide. Yet if you ask people if they think that lying is pervasive, most would say yes. But it will never be their own dishonesty. It will always be someone else's.