Don Fallis

About Don Fallis

In order to survive and flourish, we all have to acquire knowledge constantly.  These days, most of us use the internet to learn about finance, health, movies, popular culture, politics, etc.  However, whenever we get information from other people in this way, we have to wonder whether these people really know what they are talking about.  For instance, can you trust what you just read in Wikipedia?  In addition, we have to consider the possibility that these people might even be trying to deceive us.  For instance, did the email message that you just got really come from a Nigerian prince who wants to give you some money?
My research area is Adversarial Epistemology.  That is, I study how we can acquire knowledge in a world filled with deceivers.  Toward that end, I try to understand the various types of lies and disinformation that we face on the internet and in everyday life.
But I am also interested in the flip-side of Adversarial Epistemology.  While we want to keep other people from misleading us, we sometimes do need to mislead other people, or at least keep them in the dark.  For instance, how can we protect our credit card numbers and passwords from internet adversaries?
I received my PhD in Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine where I studied the epistemology of mathematical proof.  Contrary to conventional wisdom, I argued that probabilistic proofs are just as good as deductive proofs at establishing the truth of mathematical claims.  Given that we are human, any method of proof can sometimes mislead us (even if we aren't particularly worried about deceptive mathematicians). 
I regularly teach courses on decision making, information economics, information ethics, information quality, and knowledge in the digital world.  I am one of the organizers of the annual Information Ethics Roundtable.


Areas of Study

Research on Lying and Deception:

Popular Writing on Lying and Deception:

  • "The Most Terrific Liar You Ever Saw in Your Life", The Catcher in the Rye and Philosophy, (2012): 11-21.
  • "The Many Faces of Deception", Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy, Open Court, (2011): 159-177.
  • "Lies, Incorporated", Philip K. Dick and Philosophy, Open Court, (2011): 163-173.
  • "The Mendacity Bifurcation", The Big Bang Theory and Philosophy, Wiley-Blackwell, (2012): 203-216.
  • "It is a Great Crime to Lie to a King", Game of Thrones and Philosophy, Wiley-Blackwell, (2012): 19-32.
  • "What if Nobody Walks the Straight and Narrow Track?", The Wire and Philosophy, Open Court, (2013): 97-104.
  • "Are Apes Sneaky Enough to be People?", Planet of the Apes and Philosophy, Open Court, (2013): 27-38.
  • "When It's Right to Lie to a Bootlegger", Boardwalk Empire and Philosophy, Open Court, (2013): 101-113.
  • "They're Screwing Around with Us!", Ender's Game and Philosophy, Open Court, (2013): 107-114.
  • "Epistemic Warfare on the Homefront", Homeland and Philosophy, Open Court, (2014): 119-128.
  • "Machiavelli Would Not Be Impressed", House of Cards and Philosophy, Wiley-Blackwell, (2016): 92-101.
  • "Who Can You Trust? The Paradox of Listening to The Who", The Who and Philosophy, Lexington, (2016): 135-144.
  • "Why Would You Put a Con Artist in Charge of the Money?", Discworld and Philosophy, ed. Nicolas Michaud, Open Court, (2016): 101-111.
  • "True Love and False Fronts", The Princess Bride and Philosophy, eds. Richard Greene and Rachel Robison-Greene, Open Court, (2016): 3-11.
  • "Becoming Better Philosophers of Lying", Q&A for UANews.
  • A discussion of Lying with Roy Sorensen on Philosophy TV.
  • A discussion of Christmas Lies on Philosophy TV.



Don Fallis's picture

Contact Information

Don Fallis
Professor, School of Information; Adjunct Associate Professor, Philosophy; Faculty, GIDP in Cognitive Science
Telephone: 520-621-3565
Office: Harvill 445C


  • PhD, University of California, Irvine, Philosophy
  • MA, University of California, Irvine, Philosophy
  • BA, University of California, Irvine, Philosophy
  • BA, University of California, Irvine, Psychology


Courses Taught

  • Information Quality
  • Knowledge in the Digital World
  • Economics of Information
  • Decision Making for Information Professionals
  • Ethics for Information Professionals
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences