Ironically enough, I am currently discussing ethics in another course I am taking—Applied Research in Personality. This week in this psychology course we have been discussing the ramifications of psychological studies and experiments, and namely what is considered unethical. Methods in Behavioral Research, the text for the course, states that “deception occurs when there is active misrepresentation of information” (Cozby, and Bates 46). I understand that Mike Daisey did not conduct or publish a scientific study about the conditions at Foxconn. However, I do believe that “active misrepresentation of information” did occur—and Daisey is the manipulator of that information (Cozby, and Bates 46) . Telling elaborate stories as fact and blurring truths are unethical behaviors. The idea that the theatrical aspect of his monologue allows Daisey poetic license to embellish is only valid if the audience is aware that his monologue is not pure fact. Daisey made no effort to inform his audience of the monologue’s fiction. He was well-aware that embellishment, as well as the use of a personal narrative, would make a big splash, be more emotional, and get a lot of attention. Although Daisey is not a journalist, he deliberately lied to those hosting TAL about the validity of his monologue. Even if he plays the actor card for his performance, going on TAL is reason enough to completely distrust Daisy.
I am not sure Daisey would have ever admitted the truth, or voiced his regret and remorse for lying, if he were never caught. I wonder what was going through his head during his fame. Was Daisey lying and aware he was lying? Or are Daisey’s ideas about facts and fiction so blurry that he honestly didn’t think he was doing anything wrong? The interview with Ira suggests that Daisey was aware of his deception. He says that he “felt really conflicted, [he] felt really trapped”. He states, “ I think I was terrified that if I untied these things, that the work that I know is really good and tells a story, that does these really great things for making people care, that it would come apart in a way where it would ruin everything.” Here it is. This is an indication that Daisy knew he was spouting lies, but got too deep and couldn’t retract his story without losing his respect, fame, reputation, and the monologue’s pungent effect. This is deception. This is unethical.
Being skeptical about research is central to psychology, and I am realizing that it should be more central to my own life. Especially with the uncensored internet of this technological age, we can’t trust everyone’s word. Unfortunately, even the most reputable sources (TAL) get duped. That is terrifying. Can we actually trust any source? Do we always need to be questioning information thrown at us? How should we know when are opinions being reported as fact if no one tells us? The truth is, we don’t have time to fact check every piece of news, every story, every number that reported.
The line which struck me the most was when Daisey said, “so much of the story is the best work I’ve ever made”. You don’t make facts. You don’t make truth.
Cozby, Paul C., and Scott C. Bates. Methods in Behavioral Research. 11th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. Print.