Radical honesty

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Radical honesty (RH) is casually referenced as, practicing complete honesty and refraining from telling even white lies. The phrase was trademarked in 1997 as a technique and self-improvement program based on the best-selling book "Radical Honesty" by Brad Blanton.[1] Other authors have proposed similar ideas, such as Sam Harris, in his book Lying, and Immanuel Kant, who claimed in his 1797 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. While these and other proponents of Radical Honesty present the practice as a moral imperative, Blanton's programs argue against moralism and promote Radical Honesty as a means for reducing stress, deepening connections with others, and reducing reactivity .[2]


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.[3]

Jordan B Peterson[edit]

Jordan Peterson argues in his book 12 rules for life for a form of radical honesty based on the idea of a personal effect on the truthteller to be more committed to their beliefs rather than due to harming others


Immanual Kant discussed this position as a part of the Categoriyal imperative in his 1797 essay "On a Supposed Right to Tell Lies from Benevolent Motives"


Mark Manson in many of his books including Models, advocates for a form of radical honesty


Radical honesty is often associated with autism. Autistic people are known to often be hesitant to tell white lies and be honest even when it hurts them or others, but this is also seen as making autistic people more trustworthy according to some.[4][5]

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.” [6]

In the Divergent series, the Candor faction is dedicated to practicing Radical Honesty.[7]

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.

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.[8]

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.


  • 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


  1. ^ "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. ^ Blanton, Brad. "Radical Honesty Core Principles". Radical Honesty. Retrieved Feb 19, 2021.
  3. ^ "Starlee Kine: Radical Honesty". themoth.org. Retrieved 2010-03-14.
  4. ^ "5 Things We Could All Stand to Learn from People with ASD". 2017-10-03. Retrieved 2021-09-16.
  5. ^ Li, Annie S.; Kelley, Elizabeth A.; Evans, Angela D.; Lee, Kang (February 2011). "Exploring the Ability to Deceive in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders". Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 41 (2): 185–195. doi:10.1007/s10803-010-1045-4. ISSN 0162-3257. PMC 3482107. PMID 20556501.
  6. ^ ""eli loker" – brendan hines". FOX.com. Archived from the original on April 19, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Extras, Scott Westerfeld

External links[edit]