On Liars, and the Power of the Powerless

All From Uncommon Descent…


On Why Liars Lie

Commenter Charles replies:

He can’t help himself. It has become his nature. I have watched liars lie for years, and I have noted their inability to admit even the simplest of truths. I have observed their self-destructive behavior (as a consequence of losing the trust and charity essential in routine communication and cooperation) over matters both mundane and mission-critical.

This fellow suggests a mechanism for something I have suspected for years:

Dishonesty reduces applied intelligence: re-wires the brain

What I am suggesting is that, although the fundamental efficiency of neural processing is an hereditary characteristic which is robust to environmental differences and changes (short of something like destructive brain pathology – encephalitis, neurotoxin, head injury, dementia etc) – habitual dishonesty (such as is mainstream among the modern intellectual elite) will generate brain changes, and a long-lasting (although probably, eventually, reversible) pathology in applied intelligence – such that what ought to be simple and obvious inferential reasoning becomes impossible.

I would add impossible not only in communication with others but equally impossible when alone and merely analyzing (rationalizing) information they find disagreeable.

UPDATE:

After observing Carpathian’s hi-jinks in the comment thread to this post, Charles adds:

Carpathian demonstrates the corollary, why liars lie badly.

A consequence of chronic, pathological intellectual dishonesty is a narrowing of ones sphere of influence to other liars. A further consequence of which is the positive reinforcement from other liars that their lies are credible and compelling. But when those lies are trotted out to an informed and experienced audience, those same lies don’t pass muster and are recognized as vapid and vacuous.


Havel on the powerless in the face of imposed PC agendas

Havel’s 1978 essay on the power of the powerless has much to teach our civilisation in this time of PC triumphalism and cynical imposition of agendas.

For instance, consider his reflection on a sign in the window of a greengrocer’s shop:

THE MANAGER of a fruit-and-vegetable shop places in his window, among the onions and carrots, the slogan: “Workers of the world, unite!” Why does he do it? What is he trying to communicate to the world? Is he genuinely enthusiastic about the idea of unity among the workers of the world? Is his enthusiasm so great that he feels an irrepressible impulse to acquaint the public with his ideals? Has he really given more than a moment’s thought to how such a unification might occur and what it would mean?

I think it can safely be assumed that the overwhelming majority of shopkeepers never think about the slogans they put in their windows, nor do they use them to express their real opinions. That poster was delivered to our greengrocer from the enterprise headquarters along with the onions and carrots. He put them all into the window simply because it has been done that way for years, because everyone does it, and because that is the way it has to be. If he were to refuse, there could be trouble . . . .

The slogan is really a sign, and as such it contains a subliminal but very definite message. Verbally, it might be expressed this way: “I, the greengrocer XY, live here and I know what I must do. I behave in the manner expected of me. I can be depended upon and am beyond reproach. I am obedient and therefore I have the right to be left in peace” . . . .

Let us take note: if the greengrocer had been instructed to display the slogan “I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient,” he would not be nearly as indifferent to its semantics, even though the statement would reflect the truth. The greengrocer would be embarrassed and ashamed to put such an unequivocal statement of his own degradation in the shop window, and quite naturally so, for he is a human being and thus has a sense of his own dignity. To overcome this complication, his expression of loyalty must take the form of a sign which, at least on its textual surface, indicates a level of disinterested conviction. It must allow the greengrocer to say, “What’s wrong with the workers of the world uniting?” Thus the sign helps the greengrocer to conceal from himself the low foundations of his obedience, at the same time concealing the low foundations of power. It hides them behind the facade of something high. And that something is ideology.

Ideology is a specious way of relating to the world. It offers human beings the illusion of an identity, of dignity, and of morality while making it easier for them to part with them . . . It is an excuse that everyone can use, from the greengrocer, who conceals his fear of losing his job behind an alleged interest in the unification of the workers of the world, to the highest functionary, whose interest in staying in power can be cloaked in phrases about service to the working class. The primary excusatory function of ideology, therefore, is to provide people, both as victims and pillars of the post-totalitarian system, with the illusion that the system is in harmony with the human order and the order of the universe.


Let’s look again at this part of the essay:

Ideology is a specious way of relating to the world. It offers human beings the illusion of an identity, of dignity, and of morality while making it easier for them to part with them . . . It is an excuse that everyone can use, from the greengrocer, who conceals his fear of losing his job behind an alleged interest in the unification of the workers of the world, to the highest functionary, whose interest in staying in power can be cloaked in phrases about service to the working class.

Ideology has always stuck me as a fake identity, a fraud, a pack of pretentious lies. Religion, I know; Race, I know; Nation, I know; Family, I know. But living, dying, killing, working, in the name of an ideology? What thin intellectual gruel is this?

Fortunately, this drooling nonsense is on it’s way out – and not just in Russia and China.

But Christians must work hard today, if they plan to be the future foundation of civilization.

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