This book explores a new method for detecting and measuring lying. It is based on the newly available big data dumps accessible from Google and other collectors of massive online data. Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz explores people’s spinning of their truth in such subjects as mental illness, human sexuality, child abuse, abortion, advertising, religion, health (p. 14). One of the points of this book is we have to follow the Big Data wherever it leads and act accordingly (p. 283).
One of the easy observations in the book to discuss was research on who can you trust to pay back the money loaned to them (p. 258). The research was based on large numbers of loan applications and payback records. The researchers found a list of ten words/phrases commonly used on loan applications, five that correlate with who repaid the loans and five with who defaulted. Stephens-Davidowitz challenges the reader to spot those words on the list suggesting who will pay and who won’t: God, lower interest rate, after-tax, promise, will pay, hospital, debt-free, graduate, minimum payment, thank you. Give it a try and give some general reason for your decisions.
The actual results based on who repaid seem to my mind to indicate those who took absolute responsibility for their past, present and future actions. Those who defaulted put the responsibility on factors external to their present self. It is a subtle point but observe if you feel the tonality of a shifting of personal responsibility in the words: God, will pay, hospital, promise, thank you. It comes down to – God will take care of it not me – the debt will be paid in the ill-defined future – the hospital will cure my problem – a promise is a heart-felt emotion and not a monetary payment – thank you is asking the reader to be nice in return.
If you like that kind of thinking this book will be helpful but I suspect that most people will find it threatening.
There are still lessons to be learned by seeing reality clearly.