Monday 17 February 2014

On 'giving the benefit of the doubt'


Giving the benefit of the doubt to someone, or some organization, often seems to entail pretending you believe things you actually believe are lies...

Pretending that people you actually believe to be lairs are instead truthful...

And, pretending that ideas and policies you actually believe to be of evil intent may actually be benign.


For reasons of expediency this kind of stuff is at least understandable - although surely not admirable: surely indeed a self-corrupting thing to do.

So why is convoluted dishonesty with oneself and others so often considered to be a Good and Christian thing to do?


When you believe that what you are being fed are lies and evil - why pretend otherwise?

Why pretend that 'otherwise' is nice; why pretend that being dishonestly-nice about what we believe to be lies and evil is characteristic of being a Christian?

Now that really is hypocritical.



The Crow said...

Because it is sometimes as well to consider that you may be wrong.
I am often guilty of giving the benefit of the doubt, though, even when there is a vanishingly small chance that I am wrong.
This may well be one unhelpful consequence of having been raised a Christian.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Crow - Yes, you appreciate I am saying that this gtbotd is a modern misunderstanding of Christianity - is indeed a FATAL FLAW in modern Christianity which has led to Christians 1. Failing to oppose and 2. Actually abetting the corruption of (most of) their churches.

For example, when church leaders are actually believed to be fundamentally non-Christian or anti-Christian, they are not barred from office, sacked nor even opposed in any serious way, because supposedly we 'ought' to give them the benefit of the doubt - i.e. in practice we supposedly 'ought' to believe their lies and assist their destruction...

MC said...

Legal forms have conquered American culture; it is standard for people to cite a purely legal standard as an answer to what are rightly non-legal matters.* For example "innocent until proven guilty," is a precautionary principle designed for a very specific context where innocent people might face imprisonment or worse. And yet, it is not unusual to hear some young woman's parents, when confronted with a boyfriend they suspect might be involved with drugs or worse, to say, "well, we have no proof that he's doing it, it would be wrong to prejudge him that way, etc.," as if shielding your daughter from a lout were equivalent to putting an man behind bars without a trial.

*Other examples include defending the firing of someone for voicing an un-P.C. opinion on the grounds that "the right to free speech doesn't mean the right to a job"; justifying any amount of sharp dealing on the grounds that it was "arms-length" transaction; I could go on.

Bruce Charlton said...

@MC - very important point there.

A further irony is that 'legal standards' are themselves intrinsically biased since they do not taker account of character/ personality/ past history in establishing guilt (but only in sentencing).

This means that the word of a known dishonest man is 'officially' given the same weight as that of a known honest man. So we get - "well it is just one persons word against another's" forgetting that one person's word might be as near to truth as this world affords; when another person's word is worse than useless.

Or, the fact that someone is a professional complainant (e.g. paid by a pressure group) is not taken into account.

Many, many problems...

JP said...

gtbotd is not merely a fatal flaw in modern Christianity but a fatal flaw in MANY other types of organizations - academic, military, social, political. It is the reason for the "law" that any organization not explicitly right-wing becomes left-wing over time (indeed, one can even observe that even explicitly right-wing organizations become left-wing over time).