BBC 6 minute English-How honest are we

BBC 6 minute English-How honest are we

BBC 6 minute English-How honest are we


Transcript of the podcast

Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript

Neil: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English, where we bring you an interesting topic and six items of vocabulary. I’m Neil, and joining me is Rob

Rob: Hello there! And today we’ve got six minutes to talk about honesty and how honest people are – particularly when it comes to spending money. So Neil – what’s an honesty box

Neil: Well, it’s where you pay for something by putting money in a box – but it’s up to you to put in the right amount. A small business might use this method to take money for things like parking your car or buying a newspaper because it means you don’t need a sales assistant

Rob: But that means people could take a newspaper or park their car without paying anything! An honesty box relies on people being honest. The adjective honest means truthful and not trying to cheat people

Neil: And the noun is honesty – the quality of being truthful. Have you ever cheated an honesty box, Rob

Rob: Absolutely not! I’ve never have

Neil: Honestly

Rob: Honestly! And to cheat, by the way, means to trick or deceive someone to get something you want. Honesty is the best policy, as they say

Neil: Which of course leads us on to our quiz

Dan: The 6 minute English quiz! Who said ‘honesty is the best policy’? Was it

a) Donald Trump

b) Benjamin Franklin or

c) Richard Nixon

Rob: Honestly, Neil! Everyone will know the answer to that

Neil: But do you know the answer to that, Rob

Rob: Well, I’ll have an honest guess. I think it’s b) Benjamin Franklin

Neil: Well, you might be right, but you might not – we’ll find out at the end. I did like your use of ‘honestly’ there, Rob. We can use the adverb ‘honestly’ at the beginning of a sentence to show that we’re feeling irritated – for example when your co-presenter picks a quiz question that’s too easy

Rob: OK, OK, let’s move on now and hear from Philip Graves, a psychologist, and author of the book Consumerology, who can tell us about why honesty isn’t always the best policy

INSERT Philip Graves, Psychologist and author of the book Consumerology

The question is not ‘Are most consumers honest, the question is ‘Are most people honest?’ – And the answer to that is ‘no’. We have evolved with the capacity to be dishonest. It’s part of our evolutionary psychological make up – because if we can gain an advantage over the people around us, we have a greater chance of surviving. Now what’s important in that is that we also benefited from being in a social group and that was important in our evolutionary past so there is a balance to strike between the extent to which we can feather our own nest, so to speak, and the risk of being ostracised by the group

Neil: A consumer is a person who buys things or services – for example, food or clothes

Rob: Or the use of a parking space – or a taxi

Neil: Now, if I park my car and don’t pay for the parking space, I’m being dishonest, but I’m also saving money

Rob: And Philip Graves says being dishonest is part of our ‘psychological make up’. What does that mean

Neil: Our psychological make up is the way the human mind works – the way we think

Rob: And it makes sense to be dishonest if you gain an advantage through this behaviour. So when you take something without paying for it, you save money you can spend on something else

Neil: So why do we place such importance on being honest then? – If we benefit from being dishonest

Rob: Because it’s selfish behaviour – which other members of our social group won’t like. If everybody acted selfishly and dishonestly all the time, the world would be a very unpleasant place

Neil: Selfish – meaning only caring about yourself and not about other people. That’s a good point, Rob

Rob: Yes, societies work better if people behave co-operatively – which means working together towards shared goals

Neil: So honesty really is the best policy then – at least most of the time

Dan: And now it’s time for the answer to the quiz. Who said honesty is the best policy

Neil: What do you think, Rob

Rob: OK. Was it Benjamin Franklin

Neil: And that was… the right answer! Maybe the question was too easy! Benjamin Franklin wrote it in a book of proverbs called Poor Richard’s Almanac between 1732 and 1758. Other famous quotes include ‘There are no gains without pains’ and ‘Have you something to do tomorrow? Do it today.’ OK let’s follow Franklin’s wise words and move right ahead with the vocabulary items we learned today

Rob: First up was the adjective honest – meaning truthful and not trying to cheat people – For example, ‘Neil has a very honest face’. OK, then there’s … um …. honesty and honestly… the noun and adverb forms. For example, erm

Neil: Honestly, Rob, hurry up and do the second item

Rob: OK, OK, I’m getting there! To cheat – means to behave dishonestly to get what you want

Neil: My granny always used to cheat in card games. It was so annoying

Rob: And I always used to cheat in spelling tests at school

Neil: How dishonest, Rob! OK, number three. Consumer – a person who buys goods or services for their own personal use

Rob: For example, I am a big consumer of chocolate bars

Neil: That’s terrible English, Rob! How about – We asked UK consumers how much money they spent on food every month

Rob: OK, I agree that’s a better example. Anyway, I never consume chocolate. Number four

Neil: Psychological make up – the way our minds work. The way we think

Rob: For example, He had the psychological make up of a serial killer

Neil: That’s nasty! Moving on – selfish – caring only about yourself and not other people

Rob: You only made yourself a cup of tea – that was a selfish thing to do

Neil: What

Rob: It was just an example. You’re not selfish, Neil. You’re actually the most co-operative person I know – you’re happy to work with others towards a common goal

Neil: Not selfish then

Rob: Never selfish. Always co-operative… And honest too

Neil: Great. Now, I honestly recommend that listeners visit our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube pages

Rob: You can co-operate with other learners in your common goal of improving your English! Bye-bye

Neil: Goodbye

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