Why Do We Lie? NatGeo Writer Says It’s Human Nature

Yudhijit Bhattacharjee examines role of truth and lying in the age of Trump

Jake Neher/WDET

Yudhijit Bhattacharjee doesn’t think honesty is always the best policy, and he says neither do James Comey, Donald Trump, or even you — whether you know it or not. 

Bhattacharjee authored “Why We Lie,” this month’s National Geographic cover story on the science behind deception. He talks with Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson about his findings, and how they tie into a “post-truth” political landscape under President Trump — much of former FBI director Comey’s bombshell testimony hearing Thursday morning revolves around questions of hypocrisy and honesty of our elected leaders.  

“As long as you can have an army of people who will vote for your lie and will spread it for you…you can just have a cacophony of voices saying of course this is true,” Bhattacharjee posits. “And somehow, that will resonate even when the audience at large is given evidence to the contrary.” 

While some lies can have such spectacular consequences, Bhattacharjee says the act of lying itself is a basic instinct. 

“It’s sort of a muscle we all possess and flex from time to time,” he says. “Almost everyone lies, and they lie quite frequently in ways both big and small.” 

Bhattacharjee argues that, in the age of social media, Americans “owe it to ourselves and society to be more vigilant about lying,” especially when it confirms our own worldviews.  

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation. 


  • Detroit Today
    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.