Thursday 16 April 2020

Skeptical about little lies, credulous about the Big Lie

It has been a recurrent experience in my life that big lies and errors - are much more resilient than little ones.

Everyone is pleased, indeed eager, to spot little errors, and little lies. Doing so gets one credit as a shrewd 'sceptic', maybe a wit - but such micro-concern amounts to little more than cynical, self-interested one-upmanship when the little lies are debated in an environment of Living a Big Lie.

I came across this first in science; where there were whole disciplines, whole areas of scientific research, which were wrong, useless, harmful - because they were based upon major errors.

And it was not long before I recognised that major errors pretty soon become major lies - because unrecognised and unrepented errors necessarily lead to the systematic abandonment of honesty - since people are so invested in the dishonesty that they cannot allow themselves to believe in the reality (and resilience of) major errors.

An example in which I was actively-engaged was Evidence-Based Medicine; which was built-upon the fundamental error of assuming that averages of large data sets necessarily provided guidance (and indeed the best guidance) on how to treat individual patients.

Perhaps the best known current example of a Big Error/Lie in 'science' is the hypothesis of human-caused (and human controllable) global warming by carbon dioxide. I don't suppose any error-lie in the history of the world has ever been as big as this one...

Or, at least, not until the birdemic lie of the past few months. 

All of these Big Lies turn out to have a common source - which is the assumption that those who are most powerful in our nations and the world are well-motivated: that They want the best for Us.

Once that lie has been swallowed and assimilated, all other Big Lies follow - from EBM, through climate emergency, to the birdemic. 

It turns-out (perhaps surprisingly) that despite decades of being lied-to by politicians, lied-to by the mass media, lied-to by all the major bureaucracies - the mass of people remain convinced of the basic good intent and honesty of politicians, the media and bureaucracies - so that lies are explained-away as errors, and evil intent is explained-away as incompetence.

And, apparently, nothing can change this assumption of Establishment Goodness - not even a global totalitarian takeover and the police-state lockdown of billions of people.

As I say, a Big Lie is much easier to believe, but more importantly harder to disbelieve, than a little lie.


Francis Berger said...

Excellent point. You've drawn attention to a disturbing phenomenon - one that should be rather obvious at this point, but is mysteriously not.

It's mind numbing to consider that we consistently demand solutions to problems from the very people who precipitate the problems.

In connection with your post from yesterday, I suspect the potential upcoming Antichrist focus will be the greatest lie of all. Whatever solution is presented will surely serve as the capstone of this pyramid of lies. And I imagine most people will embrace it with open arms.

William Wildblood said...

We have to be made to believe things that aren't true because that separates us from the inner reality of our own spiritual understanding and natural instincts. Then we become mouldable into any shape the power elite chooses. We become ideological slaves. This has been going on for decades with all the politically correct nonsense but is happening at an alarming pace now with the current pestilence panic.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - Yes. "John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."

IMO Christians (including devout churchoers and active church members) are much too prone to lying, especially at the workplace and professionaly - failing to acknowledge and repent this.

We should recognise that when Jesus describes the devil in this way, he is indicating that lies are intrinsically evil and sinful.

Moonsphere said...

I've heard it said that "only the small secrets need to be protected - the big ones are kept secret by public incredulity."

The little lie is a deviation from truth that can be noticed and rectified. The big lie is usually a full inversion of truth and therefore lies within the human blindspot a full 180 degrees out of their "vision". They simply cannot conceive of it.

Only a belief in the existence of cosmic evil can allow one to discern the truth in these times.

Joe said...

People will joke about and act as though they believe that all politicians are liars, but when it matters they don't actually believe it. I think part of it is the serious /ominous tone (because it's ubiquitous in the media they consume): "yes politicians are corrupt, but they wouldn't lie about something *this serious*!"

AnteB said...

What has been most strange to me is how even many within the Dissident Right, people who usually are very hostile and mistrusting of the Establishment, suddenly trust the state on this issue.

In fact, here in Sweden where the government so far have been quite modest in its reaction many right-wingers fault the government for not assuming totalitarian powers soon enough!

Jacob Gittes said...

Once one has disconnected from the lying liars and the liars who feed them, how much power do they still have over you? Very little.
The main sad thing to deal with is the increasing disconnection we (those who refuse to give up the inner knowing) have with the rest of humanity. But I would ask: are they even really human? I no longer feel that I am losing that much.
The only people and beings I wish to consort with are those who are still connected to truth. Thus, I haven't really lost anything.
And what have I to fear? That some goons will hold me down and inject me with a vaccine I don't want? Not here, anyway. Voluntary compliance will be so massive that they won't really need to forcibly inject holdouts.

It's all rather tiring, however... having to listen to nonsense. I don't watch TV. I don't listen to NPR (National Propaganda Radio). When I turn the radio on for a minute or two once or twice a week, it's insane: corona corona corona corona corona corona.