Radical honesty

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Radical honesty is the practice of always being completely honest and refraining from telling even white lies. It was trademarked in 2017 as a technique and self-improvement program by Brad Blanton[1], but different authors have proposed similar ideas, such as Sam Harris, in his book Lying, and Immanuel Kant, who claimed in his 1798 essay "On a Supposed Right to Tell Lies from Benevolent Motives" that we have a categorical imperative not to lie under any circumstance, not even to a murderer looking for their victim. Proponents of the practice assert that lying is the primary source of modern human stress, and speaking bluntly and directly, even about painful or taboo subjects, will make people happier by creating an intimacy not possible while hiding things.[1]

Blanton's Radical Honesty technique includes having practitioners state their feelings bluntly, directly and in ways typically considered impolite.[2]


  • Blanton, Brad 1996, Radical Honesty: How To Transform Your Life By Telling The Truth, Dell; 7th Printing edition, ISBN 0-440-50754-5
  • Blanton, Brad 2000, Practicing Radical Honesty, SparrowHawk Publications, ISBN 0-9630921-9-7
  • Blanton, Brad 2001, Honest to God: A Change of Heart That Can Change the World, SparrowHawk Publications, ISBN 0-9706938-1-8
  • Blanton, Brad 2002, Radical Parenting: Seven Steps to a Functional Family in a Dysfunctional World, SparrowHawk Publications, ISBN 0-9706938-2-6
  • Blanton, Brad 2004, The Truthtellers, SparrowHawk Publications, ISBN 0-9706938-3-4
  • Blanton, Brad 2005, Radical Honesty, The New Revised Edition: How to Transform Your Life by Telling the Truth, SparrowHawk Publications; Revised edition, ISBN 0-9706938-4-2
  • Blanton, Brad 2006, Beyond Good and Evil: The Eternal Split-Second Sound-Light Being, SparrowHawk Publications, ISBN 0-9706938-5-0
  • Blanton, Brad 2011, The Korporate Kannibal Kookbook – The Empire Is Consuming Us, SparrowHawk Publications, ISBN 1-4507-4253-X
  • Harris, Sam 2011, Lying, Four Elephants Press, ISBN 978-1940051000

In popular culture[edit]

The character Eli Loker, played by Brendan Hines, from the 2009 Fox series Lie to Me adheres to Radical Honesty during the first season. From the website bio of the character in the first season: “Eli Loker is Lightman's lead researcher, who is so uncomfortable with the human tendency to lie that he's decided to practice what he calls "radical honesty." He says everything on his mind at all times and often pays the price.” [3]

In the Divergent series, the Candor faction is dedicated to practicing Radical Honesty.[4]

Writer A.J. Jacobs devotes a chapter in the book The Guinea Pig Diaries to his attempts to live according to the precepts of Radical Honesty. Author Brandon Mendelson is known as a practitioner of a modified form[clarification needed] of Radical Honesty.

At a Moth Mainstage event in 2009, radio producer and writer Starlee Kine related her experience with Radical Honesty, which she labelled a cult. Kine described a seminar where Blanton was verbally abusive and at one point urged her to sign a contract to obey him completely for the duration of the seminar.[5]

In the last book of the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld, a character named Frizz Mizuno invented a surgical brain procedure called "Radical Honesty" that renders him unable to lie. In fact, if he hears someone tell a lie when he himself knows the truth, he can't even simply not speak—he has to reveal the truth under any circumstances. Even at the possible cost of his own life and the lives of people he cares about, he still can't lie to save them, because his brain is wired to speak the truth.[6]

In Bones (season 6), episode 20, The Pinocchio in the Planter, the victim, Ross Dickson, was part of a fictional group called "The Honesty Policy" that practiced Radical Honesty. The episode begins exploring radical honesty as the victim being deliberately rude and belligerent, with ill effects potentially leading to his demise, and with a crass and alienating character who attended the same group. However, it also explores through several character sub-plots positive outcomes resulting from honesty inspired by encountering the concept of Radical Honesty. The phrase "Radical Honesty" is used throughout the episode.

In Silicon Valley (season 5), episode 3, Chief Operating Officer, a character called Ben Burkhardt played by Benjamin Koldyke follows a leadership philosophy developed by Kim Scott called "Radical Candor" or as he calls "RadCan" which bears many of the hallmarks of a warped version of Radical Honesty. e.g., for comedy purposes, he is 'honest about lying' and withholding information from other characters when speaking with third parties. Thereby drawing those third parties into his 'honest' (at least to the third party) lies.


  1. ^ a b "Radical Honesty" trademarked under original Serial No. 75264507, Registration No. 2142690, and new Serial No. 77660745, records of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  2. ^ "Radical Honesty – What We Do". radicalhonesty.com. Archived from the original on 2009-07-08. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
  3. ^ ""eli loker" – brendan hines". FOX.com. Archived from the original on April 19, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  4. ^ Leah Wilson (4 March 2014). Divergent Thinking: YA Authors on Veronica Roth's Divergent Trilogy. BenBella Books. p. 52. ISBN 978-1-940363-34-9.
  5. ^ "Starlee Kine: Radical Honesty". themoth.org. Retrieved 2010-03-14.
  6. ^ Extras, Scott Westerfeld

External links[edit]