Just Trust Me: Finding the Truth in a World of Spin

Just Trust Me: Finding the Truth in a World of Spin

G. Randy Kasten
Wheaton: Quest Books, 2011. xii + 288 pages, paper, $16.95.

Just Trust Me provides the reader with a number of useful strategies for identifying the truth in an age dominated by pundits, prognosticators, and people with agendas. The strategies outlined by G. Randy Kasten are applicable to a wide variety of situations that the reader is apt to encounter in daily life. The insights presented in this book were garnered, in part, from the author’s twenty-five years of experience as a civil-litigation attorney, a profession where separating fact from fiction is an ongoing challenge.

Whether we are purchasing a new car, voting for a political candidate, or assessing the accuracy of a news story, our challenge is to separate the reality from the illusion; truth is not always self-evident. Again and again, the basic question we face is: “How do I know if this is true?” Just Trust Me shows the reader how to apply these basic questions:

• Do I have enough information to make a decision?
• Does the source of my information have a bias?
• Am I somehow distorting the information?
• What information is the most crucial?

Rather than providing a single definition of the word truth, the author suggests that “it is best described as a constellation of concepts rather than a single one.” For instance, there are objective and subjective truths, probable and potential truths, temporary and contextual truths, as well as those which are relative or implied.

One chapter is entitled “Eight Types of Lies and What You Can Do about Them.” These categories include deliberate lies, lying by exaggeration or omission, and self-deception. More subtle ones include white lies, implicit lies, intellectual dishonesty, and lies posed as questions. Implicit lies include leaving false impressions. One example is men who flatter women in order to persuade them to have sex: “Their flattery may be sincere, and they may be genuinely charming, but a direct expression of what they are after would not be welcome in most situations, so they pretend to want something more romantic.” Because implicit liars are hiding their true motivation, Kasten suggests confronting such individuals early with direct questions such as, “Are you trying to confuse me?” When challenged in this way, most implicit liars will still deny having such hidden motivations, but at least they will stop assuming that you can be manipulated so easily and will likely refrain from using such tactics with you in the future.

Although Kasten gives numerous suggestions for teasing out the truth, depending on the particular set of circumstances being faced, he emphasizes that “even more than following any set of rules, it means paying attention” and having “a willingness to question those things that you would rather accept at face value.” It means stepping out of our comfort zone and habitual patterns. It means being willing to look at points of view that we might prefer to ignore. And it means learning to promote understanding and empathy in our personal relationships, because doing so promotes honesty. This is easier said than done, for “to see the world with great clarity, conscious effort is certainly necessary.” The reward for doing this, however, is a life that is blessed by greater prosperity, better health, and growing authenticity.

David P. Bruce

The reviewer is a long-time member of the Theosophical Society, for which he serves as national secretary.