Essay Truth Telling

Paolo Bacigalupi is the author of "Ship Breaker," a 2010 National Book Award Finalist in Young People's Literature. He has also won the Hugo, Nebula and John W. Campbell Awards.

I suspect that young adults crave stories of broken futures because they themselves are uneasily aware that their world is falling apart.

The truth of the world around us is changing and teens want to read something that isn't a lie.

We might pummel them with advertising that says they should buy a new iPod, or Xbox, or Droid XYZ, and that everything in the world is shiny and delightful -- but whether we're looking at the loss of biodiversity, or the depletion of cheap and easily accessible energy, or the hazards of global warming, our children will inherit a world significantly depleted and damaged in comparison to the one our parents handed down to us. And they know it.

With "Ship Breaker," a novel set in a future when oil has run out and New Orleans has drowned under rising sea levels, I was trying to illuminate the sort of world that we adults are handing off to them. In the story, child laborers tear apart ancient oil tankers and freighters, recycling the last valuable resources from "the Accelerated Age." Quality of life is significantly reduced from our present circumstances, and judging from teenagers' responses, they crave precisely that sort of truth-telling. Which doesn't really surprise me. As a teen, I remember that I craved truth-telling as well, and devoured it wherever I could find it.

Unfortunately, the truth of the world around us is changing, and so the literature is morphing to reflect it. Teens want to read something that isn't a lie; we adults wish we could put our heads under the blankets and hide from the scary story we're writing for our kids.

Topics: Culture, books, teenagers

Truth Telling Versus Deception Essay

Healthcare professions have codes of conduct and ethics that address the issue of honesty and trust in relation to patient encounters yet truth-telling (or being honest) versus deception (or being dishonest) has been identified as an ethical issue in hospitals, particularly about diagnosis and prognosis disclosures. Dossa (2010) defines being honest or telling the truth as relating the facts as one knows them. Furthermore, Dossa (2010) states that deception can be an act of dishonesty but also can be without lies. In other words, forms of deception include not giving any information, not giving information of the truth, withholding information, selecting what information to give and not give, and giving vague information.
The most common areas of clinical practice where truth-telling and deception become an ethical dilemma are critical care, cancer and palliative care, mental health and general nursing practice (Tuckett, 2004). Other areas where it can raise potential ethical concerns are in placebo therapy, disclosure of human immunodeficiency virus and informed consent (Tuckett, 2004). Truth-telling is also an act of exchanging moral agents (patients, relatives, nurses) with their sets of values and norms, which in turn are derived from culture, personal and religious beliefs, and traditions (Dossa, 2010). For this reason, the issue of truth-telling is not only approached differently in the various clinical settings but also in different countries, cultures and religions (Kazdaglis et al., 2010). For example, in the United States of America (USA), England, Canada and Finland, the majority of patients are told of their diagnosis (Kazdaglis et al., 2010). Conversely, in Japan, family members play a major role in the decision of whether a physician should inform a patient about the nature of his/her illness. The diagnosis is usually discussed with the family before it is discussed with the patient and the physician commonly complies with the family members’ requests and not with patient requests (Kazdaglis et al., 2010).
Patient Perspective
The literature review reveals that, in general, most patients want truthfulness about their health, but there is evidence that a minority of patients prefer not to know about their health conditions, such as having terminal cancer (Kazdaglis et al., 2010). In a study conducted in 2010 by Cleary, Hunt, Escott, and Walter, the majority (88%) of participants wanted to be told of their diagnosis and treatment options even if the information was distressing, nearly all (92%) agreed they had a legal or moral right to information about their diagnosis, and nearly two thirds thought it was more concerning not to be told. The highest response rates in this study were for staff to provide accurate and reliable information, be honest, and answer patients’ questions, and inform patients of their treatment options and side effects (Cleary, Hunt, Escott, & Walter, 2010).

Although it has been found that most patients...

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