Saturday, February 4, 2012

Honesty Prevails

Military swearing in

"Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching."
                                                                           -- Thomas Jefferson

In the past few months I've come across two sociology experiments that tested people's honesty and was heartened to learn that there really are decent, honest people in this world. I am often a hopeless optimist, sure that people are fundamentally good at heart. But in our crazy world with doom & gloom headlines, sometimes it's hard to believe that it's true. Luckily, I stumbled upon a couple of headlines that confirmed my theory.

In Scotland, author Paul Story released 5,000 copies of his book Dreamwords around towns including Moray and Edinburgh. He left a note with his novel asking finders to read the book within a month and if they liked it, to voluntarily pay for it if they wished to read the follow-up book. His plan worked. So far, 561 people have paid. You can read more here: Honesty Project

Closer to home, an experiment was launched in Cincinnati last summer. Honest Tea set up a webcam on Fountain Square along with a rack of bottles of cold iced tea priced at a dollar. Payment was on the honor system. They placed an acrylic box for people to drop their dollar bills into and then sat back and waited to see how honest Cincinnatians are. I was happy to learn that most people paid. In fact, 88% of the people who took a bottle of tea paid. I was definitely Hometown Proud. Read more here.

I'm sure there are many more instances and stories of people displaying honesty even when they don't know they're being watched. Unfortunately, these stories rarely make headlines. Apparently integrity just isn't sexy enough.


  1. A lot of things just aren't sexy enough to make headlines or bestseller lists anymore. But I'm with you: sometimes it's the quiet realities of life that I would prefer to hear and read about. Thanks for sharing these awesome stories!

  2. These remind me of where I pick blueberries each summer...there is an honor box. You fill out quart containers and pay for as much as you fill. I always wonder if everyone pays...