Coming into Santa Clara University, the ethics of food production and in the food industry were the furthest things from my mind. I was solely focused on not getting lost, not losing my key, and figuring out how my body was going to survive the libations of Welcome Week. This all changed when I found out I was required to take a class called “Critical Thinking and Writing” or CTW, and one of the required books was Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. Once I bought the book and read the cover on what it was about I immediately started dreading what this class would be like.
The book, Eating Animals, appeared to be about a case for why we shouldn’t be eating any animals and should be going vegetarian/vegan. Thinking a piece PETA propaganda would
be what I was reading, discussion, and writing about for the next ten weeks made
me shudder. I was now fearing what the first day of this class would consist of and was preparing myself for the worst. Luckily the class turned out to be much more than just why one should be a vegan. Throughout two quarters we talk about many things including: the presence of factory farms, the food industry, sustainability, how to write an essay with Slant, and even issues at Santa Clara as a University. However, for me the most intriguing topic was the analysis of the culture of dishonesty in society and how it affects all of the previous topics we had discussed throughout the class.
Dan Ariely is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University and is the founder and director of the Center for Advanced Hindsight. His book, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, examined the perceptions of dishonesty and how we are all dishonest to everyone, including ourselves. In this book, Ariely conducts multiple experiments on how we all lie every day, and comes to some startling conclusions that can be applied throughout our society. He discovers that we all cheat, and that we all still believe ourselves to be honest people despite this fact. This idea was fascinating to me and was the topic of my most recent essay.
I wanted to see how this idea could be applied to something that plays an important role in my life, sports, specifically running. In the book, Ariely conducts an experiment to see how golfers perceive cheating in their sport. I wanted to use these same principles and see if they applied to my favorite sport, running. After much research, both primary and secondary (which we learned how to do thoroughly throughout CTW 1 and 2), I was able to discovering some unsettling truths about the sport I thought I knew. From an interview I conducted with Chay Weaver, a collegiate runner at Seattle University, and secondary research from sources such as the British Medical Journal and the Smithsonian, I discovered that the presence of lying and cheating that Ariely discusses in golf is also present in running. This made me realize that this idea could truly be universal, and led me to examine all of the other topics we had debated over in class the past two quarters.
As my classmates can attest, I often did get into some debates about the topics that we were discussing, and although this may have made a few of my peers a little annoyed, it was one of my favorite aspects of the class. However, after reading about Ariely’s findings I went back through the topics we had deliberated on and realized that we were all looking at the issues from the wrong angle.
Over the last two weeks of class, we were able to go back through almost all of our previous points of disagreement and reexamine the issues with this new knowledge that Ariely presents. This changed the entire conversation, and we were able to come to many different conclusions about key issues, such as; Factory Farming and who is at fault, food advertisements spreading incorrect information, and even the prevalence of sustainability at Santa Clara University.
The subject that Ariely covers in The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty is, in my opinion, the most important and prevalent topic discussed in CTW 1&2. With the knowledge that he shares, we can reanalyze all of the aspects of the issues discussed throughout the class. If everyone was able to understand the core message that Ariely is trying to portray in his book, then maybe we would be able to combat some of the worlds issues that we examined throughout Critical Thinking and Writing.
Ariely, Dan. “Golf.” The Honest Truth About Dishonesty. N.p.: HarperCollins, 2013. 64-65. Print.
By. “The Honest Truth About Dishonesty By Dan Ariely Book Review.” Quotes from a Book. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. New York, Boston, London: Little, Brown, 2013. Print.