This American Life: #552: Need To Know Basis
March 31, 2015 4:00 AM - Subscribe

Even when you're not trying to get one over on someone, it can be useful to keep the truth to yourself. Or conversely, to not know why people are lying to your face all the time. This week we'll tell you the whole truth about not telling the whole truth. Including the story of a guy who learned to lie for the first time in his life at age 29.
posted by ellieBOA (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Interesting episode, but once again TAL have recycled content without stating this. Zoe Chace's part was (I think?) previously on Planet Money.
posted by ellieBOA at 4:01 AM on March 31, 2015

Zoe Chace's part was (I think?) previously on Planet Money.

posted by noneuclidean at 7:14 AM on March 31, 2015

The story about the brutally honest family reminded me a LOT of Ask Vs. Guess Culture. Clearly we live in Guess Culture because these folks just plain do not fit in with our world. You're supposed to "know" that you don't genuinely say what you're bad at a in a job interview, and that the point of such a question is to figure out whether or not you are smart/politically correct enough to lie/fudge about that.

"You have to read people for signs that they do not need or do not want to hear the entire truth."


Also fun: "The receptionist looks up Demetrius's name on the computer and goes quiet. She looks at me. She looks at him. Looks at me, looks at him, looks at the board. Don't know what to say. Sir, he's not registered this year."

Hah. Otherwise known as "Information we're specifically not supposed to admit to when Mom and Dad drop by, um...awkward!" I've totally been there and done that with a mom and I felt so sorry for her because she was genuinely convinced that the school just dropped him for no reason or something.

It sounds like the "intrusive adviser" thing is necessary, but also probably not something most schools have the money and time and attention to provide for everyone either.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:56 PM on March 31, 2015

The Planet Money version of Demetrius's story had a different slant than TAL. I almost skipped ahead, but let it play for a bit and came away with a totally different perspective on the story and Demetrius's situation. The frustration Demetrius feels about his father not trusting him for "one mistake" brought a lot more emotion and depth to the tale. I'm glad I listened to it.
posted by jazon at 2:48 PM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Having gone through essentially the same situation as Demetrius I equally feel for him, want to knock him on the noggin, and feel somewhat guilty for being so lucky and priveldged that I could fail out of school for a few years and then talk my way into an even better one.

That said this situation isn't going to work. He needs to learn how to fail on his own, eventually.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:23 PM on April 1, 2015

I agree with jazon. It would have been nice to mention the Planet Money version of the story, but this one was different enough that I'm glad to have heard both.
Also fun: "The receptionist looks up Demetrius's name on the computer and goes quiet. She looks at me. She looks at him. Looks at me, looks at him, looks at the board. Don't know what to say. Sir, he's not registered this year."
I know it's a tiny part of the piece, but this whole scenario sure caught my attention. It probably isn't actually a FERPA violation, since enrollment is specifically excluded and even detailed class and grade information is allowed based on either one's status as dependent for tax purposes (which is absurd) or having signed prior waivers.

But, it definitely falls on the "you really shouldn't try to handle this situation in real time, 'cause the ethical implications are incredibly subtle" side of things college staff have to deal with. I'm assuming that in the interest of producing good radio they excised the bit where the registrar staff forced the student to explicitly request that his personal information be disclosed to his parent while standing there. (In which case his father was a bit of a jerk to place that burden on the staff member without warning, though arguably for a good cause and without bad intentions.)

In fact, the whole story is disquieting. Clearly the father's doing what he thinks is best for his son, and it sounds like his son more or less agrees. On the other hand, if I were in the son's shoes, I have a feeling I'd have taken advantage of the under my roof clause and skipped town even before college. It sounds like a hideous way to live.

Whether or not it's actually for the best is harder to say. That's true in both the short term (will the guy finish college) and in the long term (will he learn the skills required to live a fulfilling life as an adult). It could very well be that in this case the ends justify the means. But, the means sure are uncomfortable here.

Fortunately, TAL included the backpack full of dead birds story, which is unambiguously delightful, to lighten the mood.
posted by eotvos at 8:23 AM on April 6, 2015

Interesting, I actually did skip the Demetrius story because I thought I'd heard it before. Not sure I'm motivated enough to go back and re-download the podcast just to listen to that segment. Am I making a mistake?
posted by primethyme at 6:48 PM on April 8, 2015

« Older Better Call Saul: Pimento...   |  Movie: The Babadook... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments