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Honestly, Boston is honest

Posted by Anne Fitzgerald, Globe Travel Editor  August 17, 2010 08:21 AM

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Honest Tea, an organic bottled tea company based in Bethesda, Maryland, recently conducted social experiments in several US cities, including Boston, by setting up unmanned kiosks of Honest Tea bottles for purchase on the honor system. For each bottle, people were asked to put a buck in a locked plastic box. Boston proved to be the most honest, eking out a first-place finish with 93.3 percent honesty, just ahead of Washington, D.C.’s 93 percent. Other cities were San Francisco, 91 percent; New York, 89 percent; Atlanta, 89 percent; Chicago, 78 percent; and Los Angeles, 75 percent.

“Although a sociologist might find flaws with our social experiment, we were surprised and heartened to discover that across the country, Americans will do the right thing, even when no one is looking,” said Seth Goldman, who bills himself as the TeaEO of Honest Tea.

The company produced short videos of each city’s experiment. In LA, one woman bought 10 bottles to give away to strangers. In Washington, a homeless man paid a buck and expressed thanks for someone believing in him. In San Francisco, a woman asked “What if we placed more trust in people. How could the honor system benefit society on a grander scale?”

Boston’s clip showed a bunch of honest people ponying up for the brew and one guy who pulled up on a bicycle, snagged a bottle, and rode away without paying — right by what looks like two Boston cops.

Posted by Paul E. Kandarian, Globe correspondent

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  • Anne Fitzgerald, Globe Travel Editor
  • Paul Makishima, Globe Assistant Sunday Editor
  • Eric Wilbur, Boston.com staff
  • Kari Bodnarchuk writes about outdoor adventures, offbeat places, and New England.
  • Patricia Borns, a frequent contributor to Globe Travel, writes and photographs travel, maritime, and historical narratives as well as blogs and books.
  • Patricia Harris, a regular contributor to Globe Travel, is author or co-author of more than 20 books on travel, food, and popular culture.
  • Paul E. Kandarian, a frequent contributor to Globe Travel, writes and photographs New England and Caribbean stories.
  • Chris Klein is a regular contributor to Globe Travel. His latest book is "The Die-Hard Sports Fan's Guide to Boston."
  • David Lyon, a regular contributor to Globe Travel, is author or co-author of more than 20 books on travel, food, and popular culture.
  • Hilary Nangle, author of Moon Maine, Moon Coastal Maine, and Moon Acadia National Park, writes about soft adventure, skiing, cultural travel, and food.
  • Joe Ray, a frequent contributor to Globe Travel, writes and photographs food and travel stories from Europe.
  • Necee Regis is a regular contributor to Globe Travel.
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