Conference to explore benefits, pitfalls of lying

Provocative conference on "Lying" comes to ASU's Tempe campus

In an election year, with political debates, rallies and our mailboxes bursting with political propaganda, many of us have a puzzle to solve: How accurate is my candidate about themselves and the issues? Did they really put those statistics into context? Are they revealing all of their beliefs or just focusing on the ones that serve them best?

And while politicians are a group that we all love to hate in this day and age, the truth is that even the most honest person can and will lie like a rug. So, be it kind, spineless, manipulative, an issue of survival, political debate, national security or a proven recipe for sexual success, lying serves a central role in how the world works.

Lying – and the rights, wrongs, consequences of, and motivations in animals, plants and human societies – forms the core of a provocative interdisciplinary conference "Lying: The making of the world" to take place Oct. 18-20, in ASU’s Pima Auditorium in the Memorial Union, on the Tempe campus.

“Lying is a fascinating topic because so many different disciplines address it,” said Ayanna Thompson, a professor of English and lead organizer of the event. “The goal is to foster dialogues that cut across disciplinary boundaries to produce new methods for analyzing the way lying functions in the world.”

The event will host students and scholars, ethicists, artists, authors, psychologists, biologists, social scientists and other cultural leaders, who will brainstorm in sessions organized around six themes. These include: “What is Lying?”; "Why do we lie to ourselves?"; "How do we detect dishonesty?"; High stakes lying and sex; Cross-dressing, camouflage in “The Lies We Wear”; and “Lying and Technology.”

Is there such a thing as honesty in warfare? Come join the discussion.

The conference is free and open to the public. Sessions can be individually attended. An RSVP is required:

The conference is sponsored by ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Office of the President, the Origins Initiative and Project Humanities and developed by Thompson, who is also the associate dean of faculty; Jennifer Fewell, President’s Professor with the School of Life Sciences and associate dean of faculty with the Mary Lou Fulton Teacher’s College; Edward Mallot, an assistant professor in the Department of English, and Steven Neuberg, a professor in the Department of Psychology and Senior Sustainability Scholar with the Global Institute of Sustainability. The School of Life Sciences and the Departments of English and Psychology are all academic units in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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