Time Essay: The Busting of American Trust

"Trust is a social good to be protected just as much as the air we breathe or the water we drink." So argues Sissela Bok, a lecturer on medical ethics at Harvard Medical School, in her book Lying. Most Americans would readily agree. Yet Americans are finding it ever more risky to trust the world about them. Duplicity crops up so often and so widely that there are moments when it seems that old-fashioned honesty is going out of style.

That is certainly not the case. Most Americans are dependable and forthright—most of the time. Enough people...

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