Sunday, January 14, 2018

Trump's Haiti Comment got me thinking about how there are four forms of information, and two motives


Recent events had me thinking about the nature of society to truth, and I thought I would put my thoughts on the subject to paper.

p1. There are four forms of information.
1. offensive truth
2. polite truth
3. offensive lies
4. polite lies

There may be more forms than this but this is enough categories for the purposes of our discussion.

p2. There are two motives: the desire for morality, and the desire for truth. We will talk about the desire for truth first.

p3. The four forms of information are not treated identically by human agents.

p4. If you tell a polite truth you will annoy people as you are being completely obvious. Everyone knows the inoffensive truth.

p5. In general, offensive lies are never told unless to insult someone.

p6. Inoffensive lies are told all the time, since misrepresentation of reality, (or its hiding), is the key to maintaining power.

p7. Society has a bias in favor of the inoffensive and against the offensive, since the average man, having limited information, is not qualified to judge the truth or falsity of something, and so just favors the inoffensive. Politicians practice the art of saying as little as possible with as many words as possible , to minimize the chance of being caught in a lie.

p8. Society tends to become move towards greater lies over time, especially during a prolonged period of prosperity, which delays confrontation with Gnon. In a highly prosperous society consensus reality can lag behind actual reality by decades. (For example, there is widespread belief that minorities are oppressed, which was true 40 years ago). The longer prosperity lasts the greater the lag.

p9. Elites manufacture stigmatization around certain subjects in order to conceal their parasitism.

p10. Therefore, what is offensive (tends) to be true, (but not automatically), and also what challenges power.

p11. He who would say the offensive truth is usually on the side of the little people, and should be given a wide latitude under a forgiving disposition.

p12. If everyone was honest atrocities would be impossible.

p13. It is only through self-deception that immoral acts are possible.

p14. It is not good versus evil but one deluded son of a bitch against another.

p15. Trying to be moral will make you self-deceptive. Self-deception will eventually make you evil. Hence, the most morally motivated wind up being the most evil.

p16. Striving towards the truth will make you moral.

p17. Only through pathological honesty can you become moral, since you need public stigma to keep you honest.

p18. Honest forces you into a "box" of morally acceptable options. Only through deception, (self and/or others), can you expand the range of options to the immoral. This is because humans evolved to be self-deceptive.

p19. If you are honest people will persecute you. Therefore you should remain anonymous whenever you wish to tell the truth, and be as polite as possible when you cannot, to convert offensive truths into polite-sounding truths as much as possible.

Of course in a society of barbarians sometimes the only way to get noticed is to offend them.

This covers the four forms of information and the first of our two motives: the motive for seeking truth. But there is a second motive: the motive for morality itself. This also needs discussing because it treats truth in a radically different way. What if a person cares more about morality than truth? Or equality than truth? Or any higher value over truth?

p20. Striving towards truth makes you moral while striving towards morality makes you self-deceptive, and thus, eventually evil. But why?

Because a commitment to an idea of what constitutes morality at a lower level of awareness will subvert a higher level of awareness. Or put it another way: let us suppose that you decide that X is moral at level Y awareness, but then you acquire information that says that X is no longer moral because you level of awareness is now Y + n. What do you do with the new information? You suppress it. You forget it, or rather, you "memory hole" it like it never existed. The problem with trying to make the world conform to a moral value system is that if your level of awareness rises, if you acquire any new information that throws your notions of morality into doubt, then you have to reject that new information. Moreover, since doubt is experienced as psychologically painful the new information is perceived as an assault, or an attack. Your pre-commitment to a low notion of morality gives you a tremendous incentive to demand censorship. If you pre-commit to X morality then you can never achieve X + n morality.

There is a basic liberal idea: if we all believe in the proposition that all people are equal then equality will materialize. Thus, anyone who refuses to believe in equality will prevent utopia from being achieved.

This enables every sort of tyranny to be enacted. After all, if the only thing stopping paradise is one jerk who refuses to reform his bigotry then anything can be done to that one man, right?

Of course, in a society of millions it is mathematically impossible that all people will agree on anything. I mean, if you get a hundred people in a room at least one of them will believe the Earth is flat, right? What chance do you have on getting them to agree on values when you cannot even get them to agree on simple facts? Like the roundness of the Earth?

And yet people still do it. It should be completely obvious that any political program that depends on universal agreement to achieve its aims is hopelessly doomed to fail, so why, why the hell to people believe this nonsense? Why do people believe in the nonsense of universal agreement? That it is possible?

Because children make-believe. Because the invention of unrealities is a fundamental part of the human psyche derived in childhood. And why do children make-believe? Because childhood delusions are practice for the adult delusions of religion and politics. Humans are tribal monkeys. In a tribal environment the society is small enough that universal agreement is possible. And it is isolated enough that no one is going to tell Mr. Bone-through-the-noise that forest spirits are bullshit.

Because make-believe doesn't scale. Therefore no agreement on values is possible at the level of millions of people. "Ah," you say. "But nations had common values in the past." Yes, and they did not have the internet, and their populations were smaller.

And so an early commitment to values will produce a permanent stupidity. The longer one can endure truth the higher one's morality will rise.


  1. Thanks for your post. Quite sympathetic. We had written up a post that is somewhat similar in theme and then read this. We made use of some of the material there.

    At the end of it, we ask if (you) had any thoughts on Dalio's principles from a systems theory perspective.

    All the best.

    1. I have no idea who Dalio is but I will look into it.