Have you noticed that when you ask someone on the street where the next post office or drug store or some other locally known place is, they usually tell you it's just a couple of blocks when in fact it is a lot farther than that? Or when someone tells you she will be there in a few minutes and then you wait for half an hour and she is still missing? Or when you are told on the phone 'May I put you on hold for a moment?' and you are still waiting ten minutes later? (Read more...)
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So what you're describing is a sort of "hedonistic altruism": altruism which assumes that increasing pleasure and decreasing pain are the good, regardless of the long-term effects. A more "honest" altruism would recognize that the good of others is ultimately not served by lies (some altruists do recognize this fact).
Actually, I think the practice may often come, not from a sense of duty, but from a desire not to anger or frustrate another with bad news--for fear that one's own worth will be diminished in that person's eyes.
"No one likes the bearer of bad news." -- Antigone, line 277, Sophocles (496-406 B.C.E.)
So it may come from a lack of self-esteem and healthy assertiveness, as well as from hedonistic altruism.
On a more personal note, I had an argument once with a friend of mine and his girlfriend about whether it was okay to lie to protect someone's feelings. I said that it wasn't, while they both said that it was. Those two broke up after a short time, but my friend is now married, and from what I understand, he and his wife are very open with each other.
If the Bush administration has taught us anything, it has taught us that some people at some times actually want to be lied to. This board is populated with many people who want to believe the lies of the Bush administration and his cronies. America is also populated with people who want to believe those same lies.
I have to plead guilty to Prof. Machan's charge. In my case, I often have to praise some lazy or idiotic people even when they have done something really stupid or bad. So, "horrid" in my thought becomes "nice" out of my mouth, and "total rubbish" becomes "good try"!
I try to be straight with my own kid, and people around would think that I am a child abuser. Oh, well.
PS. Most of this "nice" nonsense is mostly American though. There's much less of this culture from where I come from.
I don't know. And I don't like to attribute everything that's bad to Christianity. I think it's more because of politically correctness and contemporary cultures. American people are in general very nice in the best sense (benevolent). But when they over do it they become gullible or hypocritical. Have you seen the movie "Borat"?
I saw it and regretted it. I found it profoundly disturbing on a number of levels. I have considered writing a review to post in the "Movies" section of this forum. Would anyone like to read such a review?
I thought Borat was absolutely hilarious, I have rarely seen a movie that funny. I am sure it can bear some negative analysis but I don't care, it was funny to me. Now something like Happy Feet is - from what I hear - a complete lie. They make it out as a nice kid's tale of happy penguins when in reality it is environmentalist propoganda and a dark, nasty story to boot. At least with Borat you know what it is about, and yes it is strictly adult only. Also, anyone hear the stuff about Michael Richards?
Oh, and Chris, it is funny you should say that. There is a clear psychological disorder with people who believe conspiracy theories. They feel the need to explain their fear and at the same time absolve themselves of any blame or any need to take constructive action on their own. It is a delusional psychosis of a sort.
He went bonkers on some (black) hecklers at a show - they were being assholes, but then he went off the deep end and started calling them the N-word and even, I think, referring to lynchings or something similar in the past. So, its is not like he was trying to be funny. Then he apologized last night on Letterman (Jerry was the guest) and he was sincere but excruciating to listen to. It is hard to explain, you can see the clips on youtube. I mean, how do you apologize and say "Afro-American" during the apology. Yikes!
Where did I invite all this irrelevant stuff, I cannot imagine! Anyway, I wasn't writing about America but about people anywhere and everywhere. During my travels on nearly every continent--about 30 countries, some of which I lived in--this kind of conduct was in evidence.
I am a horrible judge of distance. I tell people something is closer than it really is because I truly think it is. I tell people I'll be there sooner than I think because I can't seem to judge how long it will take me to get there because I think it is closer than it really is. So I tend to lie in the other extreme to over-compensate.
As for asking to put someone on hold, I worked a help desk for many years and studies show that people would rather be told it will be a moment and it actually be 10 minutes than to be told it will be 10 minutes and it only be a moment. Go figure.
I often think that what may appear to be a lie, may not always be a lie. Here's a good case.
I was about four years old and told my grandmother that I was going to get her a dishwasher. I never got her one. But when I said that, I really believed that I would get her one.
Another example is when someone says: "Could you wait five minutes?" They may actually believe that it is going to be five minutes when they say it. Of course, they may come back five minutes and say the same thing again. I don't think this is a lie. However, it does indicate that a person may not have a particuarly firm grip on reality.
I grew up in a place in Italy, where in the summer it would become the favorite destination for tourists who loved fishing and sailing. They would always stop at the same intersection and ask for directions to the port. There, we would wait for the lost tourists so we could direct them to Giovanni's house. A tiny country road, adorned with tomatoes planted on each side of it like flowers in a luxurious villa, lead to Giovanni's house. You should have seen how much fun it was watching those tourists being chased by Giovanni with a stick while he beat the roof of their cars because he was tired of having his tomatoes destroyed. Giovanni died a long time ago, the children don't play soccer on the street anymore, and tourists don't get lost anymore, because a big sign has been posted at that intersection directing to the port. :-(
This is an interesting post. I missed it the first time. A few comments: Tibor writes:
"OK, so LP candidates should know by now that the time hasn't come yet that most voters recognize that stealing is wrong. Sure, they usually don't steal in their circle of neighbors but when it comes to stealing from strangers across the country, they definitely believe stealing is just fine. And all of this is happening in a supposedly Christian country, with the clear commandment from God that prohibits stealing."
Exactly! In a supposedly Christian country in which people believe in the commandment "Thou shalt not steal," they nevertheless believe in stealing big time via the government. Hypocrisy writ large.
And speaking of hypocrisy, we have the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," despite the fact that the Bible is filled with murderous atrocities ordered and committed by the very God who issued the commandment. But that's another subject.
Have you ever noticed that when people are invited to an event they have no intention of attending, they are loath to decline, but instead say something like, "I'll see if I can make it"? When someone says, "I'll see if I can make," I know for sure they're not coming.
The prohibitions against killing and lying apply only within your own circle (religion, town, etc.) This is quite explicit in Islam but is also how the Old Testament should be read.
As for lying to make people feel good, visitors to my Toastmasters club are usually asked at the end of the meeting for feedback. Frequently the response is "I really enjoyed myself and learned alot and will certainly be coming back." We often never see them again. Clearly, such behavior helps no one.
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