“Radical Honesty”: Humor By A.J. Jacobs, The Women of “SNL”

Lying is the major source of all human stress. It kills us. Brad Blanton, founder of Radical Honesty movement

Predicated on notions such as the one expressed above, the controversial Radical Honesty movement founded by therapist Brad Blanton has now been around for many years. Blanton has written a bunch of books about it, in fact, and continues to offer expensive workshops on the subject.

From his website, an introduction:

How about trying honesty? How about being honest, radically honest all the time, with everyone you know? What would happen to us and our friends and the world if we just stop being polite and political—especially with people we already know? How about sharing everything that goes through your mind, whether it is politically correct or not?

How about that doesn’t really sound like good advice?

As part of a self-help mission that led to his book My Life As An Experiment (2009), writer A.J. Jacobs  actually participated in this brand of indiscriminate truth telling. It’s the part in his book he calls “I Think You’re Fat.” Taken from his site, here’s a description of what he turned to:

I became a temporary convert to the Radical Honesty movement, which teaches that you should never, ever lie. But more than that, you should say whatever’s on your mind. You should remove the filter between your brain and your mouth.

In the following paragraph he explains his motivation and desire to try Radical Honesty even though his first impression was that it sounded ridiculous. From his related and humorous Esquire article:

I have a lying problem. Mine aren’t big lies. They aren’t lies like ‘I cannot recall that crucial meeting from two months ago, Senator.’ Mine are little lies. White lies. Half-truths. The kind we all tell. But I tell dozens of them every day. ‘Yes, let’s definitely get together soon.’ ‘I’d love to, but I have a touch of the stomach flu.’ ‘No, we can’t buy a toy today — the toy store is closed.’ It’s bad. Maybe a couple of weeks of truth-immersion therapy would do me good.

In a nutshell, though, after all is said and done Jacobs concludes it’s actually pretty problematic to be that honest. As he declares on his website, “This was the worst month of my life. I had to spend the following weeks apologizing to everyone I offended.” (On the other hand, he does commit to a decrease in future lying incidents.)

This past weekend the women of SNL, including guest host Dakota Johnson, also tested this kind of honesty—à la the “Brave” lyrics by Sara Bareilles (Say what you wanna say, etc.)—and it would appear that at least some practitioners of such assertiveness feel just great about it!

It was also the funniest bit of the night and can be found at this link.

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