Deborah Rankin

If This Was A Novel You Probably Wouldn’t Believe It

Have you read Bad Blood? Investigative reporter John Carreyrou exposed the “secrets and lies in a Silicon Valley startup” in the Wall Street Journal, then expanded the story into a fascinating book that’s now being developed into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence.

Elizabeth Holmes, a young woman with a well-connected family, one year of college, and an amazing ability to make rich and important men believe whatever she said started a laboratory company called Theranos that was supposed to revolutionize medical testing by “reaping vast amounts of data from a few droplets of blood”.

In the process, she became an entrepreneurial icon, made the cover of Fortune, Forbes, Inc., and The New York Times Style Magazine, and amassed a personal net worth of up to six billion dollars. Without spoiling the story, let’s just say things didn’t work out as planned. Forbes revised her net worth to zero in 2016 and named her to their “World’s Most Disappointing Leaders” list. In 2018 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged Theranos and Holmes with fraud for deceiving investors with false or exaggerated claims about the accuracy of their technology, while a federal grand jury indicted her on nine counts of wire fraud.

It is a good book, full of head-shaking stories. If it was a novel, critics would probably say it was too far-fetched to be believed!

I don’t want to write about Holmes. I’d like to applaud the people who endured threats, surveillance, financial loss and family rejection to tell the truth: many sources who choose to remain anonymous, and a few who spoke on the record, like Tyler Shultz (former Secretary of State George Shultz’s grandson). 

Mainly I’d like to write about lies and liars. You may wonder how people who perpetrate monstrous fraud, with the potential to put hundreds if not thousands of peoples’ lives at risk through inaccurate medical tests, can live with themselves. It’s possible that some of the figures in this book have personality disorders, or sociopathic tendencies. People like that don’t feel empathy for other people or have the capacity to feel remorse. You might want to watch my video book review of The Sociopath Next Door, another good book.

One trait of a person with a narcissistic personality or sociopathic traits is the ability to tell lies often, and well. I was once close to a man who bragged that when he and his friends got in trouble in college they picked him to explain it away because he was good at making up stories. At the time I thought that was funny; now, not so much.

In my opinion, nothing is as destructive to your emotional balance as being told something you KNOW happened, in fact, did not happen. I have three friends who talk about their childhood physical or sexual or abuse. In all cases, their mothers said it did not happen, or denied knowing it happened. How sad. How hurtful. Yet I’ve come close to that myself, and I regret it.

So let’s admit we all rub shoulders with compulsive liars. How do we handle it? You can spend a lot of time trying to get the liar to admit dishonesty or force them to tell the truth. That has never worked well for me. There may be improvement if the person seeks help and chooses to work with a professional counselor. A girlfriend in Connecticut says her mother always told her “You can never protect yourself from a liar.” That’s because when you’re involved with a liar reality always shifts, leaving no baseline from which to work. You don’t know for sure what you’re dealing with.

”Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.”   –Proverbs 26:4

In addition to being a good read, I hope Bad Blood helps you choose not to invest with liars, work for them, marry them, or be their best friend. We all have better choices.

How about you? How many sociopaths do you know? What did they teach you?

© 2019 Booktalklady

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