Thursday 23 June 2016

Why are people so eager to listen to lying?

This is a genuine puzzle. There is a sense in which we cannot avoid people lying to us - but it is striking that people will go to great lengths - in terms of moving themselves from one place to another, spending money, and directing their attention for considerable periods - to sit and be lied to.

It is not as if this is unusual - it is usual and normal. As a generalisation that is almost 100 percent true; every time somebody famous, powerful, or high status communicates - they will be lying. Sometimes they lie so much that there are only a few snippets of reality dotted among their comments, other times they speak mostly true things but from a lying perspective deliberately to mislead, other times they just slip one important lie into a background of true facts...

But - if people were honest with themselves - they know that they are being lied-to in public discourse - pretty much all of the time and by everyone. It is a web of lies.

People know at some level that the people addressing them are not even trying to be truthful - but are trying to 'sell' them something or another, or manipulate than for the good of somebody else, or simply as part of the kind of status competitions which humans so often regard as the main business of life.

Given that there is such an awareness, then why to people go to such extreme efforts to listen to lies? Why don't they do anything at all to avoid being lied to? Why, on the contrary do they bask in lies?

Why? - The answer must surely be because people are very thoroughly corrupt? Because, so far as I can see, only a person who was very corrupt would want to be lied to; and since almost everybody behaves consistently with the fact of wanting to be lied to - then almost everybody is corrupt.

The populations of The West are full of complaints about each other's behaviours, the way they are treated, or the way some people treat other people... but then they actively sustain a network of lies, counter lies and the acceptance of lying... Those very few people who try to be truthful, or who will not passively accept lying are ignored or persecuted - to general approval...

Indeed, openly to disbelieve someone - even in an environment which makes no attempt at truthfulness and where dishonesty is meat and drink, and a lucrative career - is regarded as an awe-full insult and an outrage. Yet another lie!

Whose fault is all this? Clearly there is responsibility - such things don't 'just happen'.

Modern people would, of course, like to blame somebody else for the situation - just as they do for everything. Or else they would assert that nobody is responsible personally, that these things are due to larger forces, out of their own control and anybody's control...

But of course that will not wash, not really. Each person just-is responsible for their own life - nobody else is. And if they know-about the lying (and they do) and they don't just accept but actively choose to swim-in the sea of lies... then they already have-made a fundamental decision of the type of world they want.

And that kind of wanting will always be gratified: it is a standing invitation to evil, saying 'Come in! You are welcome in my heart'. 


Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

That hit home. Thank you!

William Wildblood said...

Yes, I agree with the previous commentator. We all know that lying in the public forum is universal but most people don't really admit that to themselves and still listen. Why? It can only be because we assume it's always been like that but I don't believe it has, certainly not to the extent it is now. We assume this and accept it seemingly without regret because we don't believe there is any absolute truth. Everything is conditional, everything is relative. Because we have denied God, who is the source of all truth, we are happy with lying.

Hrothgar said...

I would suggest it has much to do with the unique susceptibility of the modern ego (or conditioned false-self) to flattery. Generally when people are being lied to, especially by high status persons, they are also being flattered by them - and it seems to me that the positive, fuzzy, warm feelings this flattery inculcates in them helps to suppress any residual desire to seek truth (which perhaps they fear might be hard, sharp, and bitter by comparison).

If this impression is correct it is then worth asking: what is it, exactly, about the modern self which makes it so susceptible to this flattery? I would suggest that it is precisely because the ego of contemporary Western Man is a false, unstable construct, which sits on no firm foundations, just the ever-shifting, treacherous quicksands of fashion - and therefore needs constant reinforcement (partly intellectual, but mostly social) in order merely to hold together. Feel-good positive affirmation is therefore sought at every opportunity - indeed the desire for it is insatiable in such a person.

Conversely anything which is likely to provoke bad feelings (or threatens cherished assumptions) - which in our present climate of mass delusion any form of Truth almost inevitably will - is sensed as something which not just fails to give the desired reinforcement, but threatens to undermine the whole rickety structure of the false-self and tear it apart. Truth is too strong and stimulating for such underdeveloped and sickly appetites - it threatens to overturn and disintigrate the very identity of the willfully deluded - so it is not really too surprising that they resist it so desperately and choose instead to remain in moral infancy, sucking down the pablum of comfortable, safe, bland, filling lies instead.

I'm inclined to see the current fashion for suppressing feeling with "antidepressants" as fulfilling much the same function (since our host has expertise in this area, I wonder what he thinks of the notion). It may be significant that many people in our society seem only able to attain true maturity after some form of mental breakdown and subsequent recovery (medically diagnosed or not). If the schema I've suggested here is correct, this may represent the overthrowing of the false-self through which identity was previously maintained, and the subsequent construction of a new, more genuine self, more in touch with reality than the previous one, and hence less threatened by truth. Most who have gone through this experience seem relatively open to religious and especially "spiritual" phenomena too, which again I think may be significant.

Chent said...

Admitting the truth -> Having to conform to the truth -> Having to give up guilty pleasures or having guilt when enjoying them

Fooling themselves -> Thinking what they do is right -> Enjoying pleasures without guilt

Western civilization, after Enlightenment, can be summarired as "the flee from guilt"