I quite enjoyed Sam Harris' book The Moral Landscape. Needless to say, I applaud the four horsemen and the struggle for reason. Lying is kind of like On Bullshit, essentially a nicely bound essay. One half of the book is his essay on lying (just 45 small pages), the remainder largely an interview with a prof of his that taught him in philosophy.
The essay makes a good case for the position that there are few situations where lying is a good idea, even when well-placed intentions might tell you to. And there are cases where lying is demanded. E. g.; You have Anne Frank in your attic and Nazis at the door asking if you there are any Jews in the house. Then you lie. A case is made for lying to police if the consequences are harsh and you are morally and ethically clean (like having smoked pot, for example).
A lesson that governments never learn is that lying can destroy your ability to convince people to do the bleeding obvious. E.g.: The US lied about Iraq and WMDs… now the people are far more skeptical and war-shy than they were before, and perhaps less so than they should be.
I have often been a little too honest in my life, usually in the form of bad jokes. My candor has gotten me fired at least twice. As Dale will recall, I probably managed to piss off half the audience at Barry B's funeral service. I spoke of meeting him for the first time where he introduced himself as an SFU psychologist… a group I considered to be part of the problem. Barry immediately noticed my disdain and explained that he was an experimental psychologist, a distinction I was unaware of at the time. I was very gratified when Dale thanked me for making the distinction. To reflect a point made in the book, if you do not lie, you do not have to concern yourself with your audience's sensibilities. Truth, as lawyers are fond of say, is an absolute defense.
A single sitting read, but worth it if you have ever spent any time thinking about such stuff. I shall try to be just a little more honest in the future. If you try, you can be honest without being hurtful.
Lee Moller is a life-long skeptic and atheist and the author of The God Con.