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Born Liars: Why We Can't Live Without Deceit (2011)

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Our attitudes to lying are confused and contradictory - you might even say, self-deceiving. On the one hand we hate lies, and liars. On the other, we all indulge in fibs, tall tales and fantasies. If lying is wrong, why do we all do it - both to others, and to ourselves?

In Born Liars, Ian Leslie argues that, far from being a bug in the human software, lying is central to who we are; that we cannot understand ourselves without first understanding the dynamics of deceit. Using a vivid, panoramic style, he explores the role of deception and self-deception in our childhoods, our careers, and our health, and the part played by lies - both black and white - in art, advertising, sport, politics and war. Drawing on thinkers as varied as Augustine, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, Ian McEwan and Marlon Brando, he takes the reader on an exhilarating tour of ideas that brings the latest news about deception back from the frontiers of evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy.

Born Liars is crammed with colourful stories; we'll meet Benjamin Franklin in Paris as he takes on Franz Mesmer, the man who claimed to heal his patients by touching them with iron rods. We'll hear about a spy who beat a lie detector, a man accused of cheating his way to a million pounds on a TV game show, and we'll peer inside the minds of Bill Clinton and Saddam Hussein.

Born Liars takes us on a fascinating journey which makes us question not only our own relationship to the truth, but also virtually every daily encounter we have.