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[Susan notes: Howard Gardner makes a big point in a short letter.]

Published in New York Times

To the editor

Re "Are More People Cheating?" (Arts & Ideas, Oct. 4):

A comparison of the incidence of cheating across decades is difficult. But three aspects of American society in recent decades make cheating more likely.

First, there is the rise of a market-drenched society, where monetary success is lauded above all else. Second, there is the decline of religious, communal and family bonds and norms that encourage honesty. Finally, there is the absence of shame (let alone harsher penalties) by those public figures who are caught in dishonest or immoral activities. No wonder so many young people see nothing wrong with cutting corners or worse.

Howard Gardner, Harvard Graduate School of Education

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