ED­I­TOR’S let­ter


We live in a world where cu­rated In­sta­gram feeds fil­ter the truth and where lead­ers who have a Trumpian-like fond­ness for false­hoods are re­warded. But I think (hope) we’re reach­ing a tip­ping point. Per­haps fash­ion de­sign­ers are tap­ping into our cul­tural yearn­ing for truth with the re­turn of the news­pa­per print. We saw it at Ba­len­ci­aga, Alexan­der Wang, Hel­mut Lang and John Gal­liano. At Sa­cai Menswear, they printed a New York Times ad on a black tee that read “Truth. It’s more im­por­tant now than ever.”

In “Fit to Print” (page 30), our fash­ion fea­tures ed­i­tor Is­abel B. Slone writes that “po­lit­i­cal news has re­placed celebrity gos­sip as the main­stay of cur­rent­day con­ver­sa­tion…. Re­al­ism is re­plac­ing es­capism as the ap­pro­pri­ate re­ac­tion to what is hap­pen­ing in the world.”

But how hon­est are we with oth­ers and our­selves? If you think you’re not a liar, you’re just ly­ing to your­self. You’ve been fab­ri­cat­ing the truth since you were six months old, ac­cord­ing to Dr. Va­sudevi Reddy, a re­searcher and psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of Portsmouth in Portsmouth, Eng­land. “Fake cry­ing is one of the ear­li­est forms of de­cep- tion to emerge, and in­fants use it to get at­ten­tion even though noth­ing is wrong,” Reddy told The Tele­graph. “It demon­strates they’re clearly able to dis­tin­guish that what they are do­ing will have an ef­fect. This is es­sen­tially [what] all adults do when they tell lies, ex­cept in adults it be­comes more morally loaded.”

Well, morally loaded for some. As of May 1, Pres­i­dent Trump had made 3,001 false or mis­lead­ing claims, ac­cord­ing to The Wash­ing­ton Post. This av­er­ages out to nearly 6.5 #fake ut­ter­ances a day. Be­fore you get hor­ri­fied (quite rightly), it turns out that most of us are only slightly be­hind the pres­i­dent when it comes to our per diem fibs. A study funded by WKD, a Bri­tish vodka brand, found that men lie on av­er­age five times a day and for women it’s three. And if you think you can spot a liar, you’re also wrong. Ac­cord­ing to psy­chol­o­gist Robert S. Feld­man, who did the re­search, there’s only a fifty-fifty chance you’ll sus­pect some­thing’s up be­cause we’re wired to want to be­lieve what peo­ple are telling us—es­pe­cially if it makes us feel bet­ter about our­selves. He calls it our “truth bias.”

While we may lament that we live in a post-truth era, Robin Han­son and Kevin Sim­ler, au­thors of The Ele­phant in the Brain: Hid­den Mo­tives in Every­day Life, ar­gue that we’ve al­ways been bi­o­log­i­cally hard­wired to lie. They even go so far as to sug­gest that we have a “lim­ited bud­get for hon­esty.” Ap­par­ently this miserly ap­petite for ve­rac­ity serves us well. In “The Dark Yet Life-Af­firm­ing Magic of SelfDe­cep­tion” (page 48), they tell writer Kather­ine Gougeon that our brain acts like a “press sec­re­tary, con­stantly putting the most noble spin on our choices and be­hav­iours while keep­ing our con­scious minds in the dark.” But even if our in­ner Sarah Huck­abee San­ders is spin­ning her best yarns, we still crave the truth—though, as Os­car Wilde said, “the truth is rarely pure and never sim­ple.” And that’s the truth.

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