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   Author  Topic: The benefits of hypocrisy?  (Read 6749 times)
MoEnzyme
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The benefits of hypocrisy?
« on: 2011-03-08 13:00:54 »
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This was a very interesting thought from Zinnia Jones. At first I took it as providing an argument to excuse hypocrisy, which I would ordinarily think as somewhat counter to our treating hypocrisy as a sin in the Church of Virus. However on greater reflection, I think what he is really talking about the dangers of dogmatism and why sometimes hypocrisy is preferable to dogmatism, even though he didn't actually use the word "dogmatism". What do you think?

-Mo

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZwaJMYbnqk]


Transcript from:
http://zinniajones.com/blog/transcripts/hypocrisy-has-its-benefits/

[Zinnia Jones] Hypocrisy has its benefits
In the course of explaining certain moral positions people take, such as the idea that abortion is wrong because it's murder, or that gay people should be celibate because nobody should have sex before marriage, it's often said that these people are just being consistent with their beliefs. And while that's certainly an explanation, it's hardly an excuse. There's a tendency to think of consistency in people's beliefs as being virtuous in and of itself, regardless of what those beliefs may be. It's understandable why we would want to encourage consistent belief systems: it allows positions to be approached and addressed in a logical manner. And if a person is amenable to rational argument, they can be led along a chain of reasoning that could eventually move them to reconsider their beliefs. But if they don't adhere to any such principles, this is likely to be ineffective, or at least unreliable. They could always just refuse to acknowledge anything they don't want to.

But there are some cases where consistency in one's beliefs can be undesirable. If insisting on harmonious beliefs results in those beliefs being even more wrong than they otherwise would have been, that's not exactly praiseworthy. Being partially wrong is bad enough, but at least it means being partially right. Being completely wrong is even worse, no matter how elegant we may find the consistency of it to be. If people still considered sex before marriage to be wrong, but no longer believed that unmarried gay people should be celibate, that would actually be an improvement - even if it doesn't make any internal sense.

In the same way, hypocrisy can often operate as a kind of safety margin that prevents or at least delays people from acting on beliefs that may be in error. Take the case of Paul Jennings Hill, an anti-abortion activist who was executed for the murder of a doctor and his bodyguard. In a book he wrote while in prison, Hill said, "The Moral Law (as summarily comprehended by the Ten Commandments) requires the means necessary for defending innocent people. The unborn are innocent people. Therefore, the Moral Law requires the means necessary for defending the unborn." It was this line of reasoning that convinced him of the necessity of killing an abortion doctor. After the murders, Hill told his wife, "I didn't have any choice!"

If Hill had failed to follow this syllogism to its logical conclusion, or at least neglected to put it into action, this could have easily been avoided. It's fortunate that the vast majority of people against abortion, who may very well believe that abortion is murder and that lethal force is justified to prevent murder, have refused to connect these beliefs - or if they have, they apparently have no intention of acting on it. Here and elsewhere, hypocrisy serves a very useful purpose.

The reality is that we are not perfect, we don't know everything, and we're not always entirely rational, so it can be good to leave some wiggle room when deciding whether to act. A hesitance to implement one's beliefs can serve as a sort of accidental doubt, which, while not exactly the result of a thoughtful consideration of the issues at hand, can still carry some of the benefits. If someone says they would go around raping and killing people if they didn't believe in God, it's a good thing that they're not actually going to do that. If someone says they would sacrifice their own child if they thought God wanted them to, it's a good thing that they probably wouldn't. And if someone thinks terrorist attacks against the western world are justified, it's good if they still choose not to do that. And if someone actually did do any of this, it's unlikely that we would say, "Well, at least they were being consistent with their beliefs!" (Unless it was in an ironic sense.)

So when people say one thing and do another, it might not be as bad as saying something and actually doing it, even if they haven't yet reached the point of not saying it and not doing it. Hypocrisy isn't the best state of affairs, but it can be better than the alternatives. And this dissonance in their beliefs can often provide an opportunity to try and help them out of it. But even if we can't bring them around, sometimes the most we can ask is for them to remain lost in the wilderness.

-ZJ
« Last Edit: 2011-03-08 13:14:33 by MoEnzyme » Report to moderator   Logged

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Re:The benefits of hypocrisy?
« Reply #1 on: 2011-03-08 18:45:11 »
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Here was my comment response to ZJ on his video. If he responds, I'll post it here.

[Mo]I like this video, but I don't agree. It might seem semantic, but what I think you are really saying is that dogmatism (being REALLY wrong) has greater negative consequences than hypocrisy (being inconsistent). That doesn't make hypocrisy beneficial, but rather just less harmful than dogmatism. So yes, less wrong is better than more wrong but only in a relative sense. Being consistently right is of course the best.
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Re:The benefits of hypocrisy?
« Reply #2 on: 2011-03-09 03:59:55 »
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ZJ hasn't responded to my comment, and he may not due to the high volume of comments he's recieved, but I thought I would post a few of the interesting ones I found in the YouTube comment section of this video. The first two are short conversations, and the last one is a single comment.

Quote:
I hate to offend you, but YES, I respect consistency and honesty, regardless of how otherwise immoral and despicable the beliefs and behavior are. I appreciate when people be themselves, so I can best deal with them.

I often like to press for admission of hypocrisy, because consistency of being wrong is rare, and embarassing a hypocrite is the best way to make them admit they are partially wrong.
spiritualbully 1 day ago
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@spiritualbully My thoughts; too - won't deny ZJ's point completely, but it's not a great gamble to take. Someone consistently wrong doesn't do their own cause any favours, either - are the WBC too old hat to mention in that regard?
theystoleitfromus 23 hours ago
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@theystoleitfromus I respect and LOVE WBC for reminding Americans everyday what Christians SHOULD be, and how our society puts up with "free speech".

But that's the point, NOBODY is consistently wrong, even if they say they're consistently wrong, they can't act that way, so you can always catch their hypocrisy, where they are forced to admit they are not to judge, or they're not what the claim to be, both are good wins.
spiritualbully 23 hours ago


Quote:
Thanks for that! I recently asked my mom to partner with me on starting a nonprofit organization in my hometown as a means of building a small low rent community for single mothers, and while my mom thought it was a great idea, and that it could be quite successful, she refused to do it because I am an atheist. The bible says that she shouldn't be "unequally yoked," because goodness can't come from the "wicked." Needless to say it made me sad, but the good news is that she is a hypocrite! yay
eggplnt 17 hours ago
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@eggplnt Actually, she is the opposite of a hypocrite. She made a painful decision so that she could remain consistent with her sincerely-held beliefs.
kmsoileau 17 hours ago
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@kmsoileau She is a hypocrite in that she could unintentionally call me "dark" and "wicked" acknowledging the judgement passed on me by her holy book, but still somehow love her atheist, homosexual daughter. I am thankful that I can still believe she loves me in spite of what she says she believes.
eggplnt 16 hours ago
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@eggplnt Maybe you are using an unusual definition of the word hypocrite. As I understand it, a hypocrite is one who condemns behavior in others while indulging in that same behavior personally. I don't see how, under that definition, your mother is a hypocrite.
kmsoileau 16 hours ago


Quote:
I think Hypocrisy is essential for moral evolution. It introduces permutation which may or may not be beneficial in some way. I think it's usually the case that someone who engages in immoral behaviour usually does so secretly, eventually seeking out others with similar behaviours forming a community which may eventuall grow to a size where they can make representation and they no longer need hypocrisy to keep them safe from those who violently oppress moral deviants (not meant perjoratively).
EvilScuzz 17 hours ago


« Last Edit: 2011-03-09 04:05:17 by MoEnzyme » Report to moderator   Logged

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Re:The benefits of hypocrisy?
« Reply #3 on: 2011-12-16 08:48:46 »
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Quote from: MoEnzyme on 2011-03-08 13:00:54   
This was a very interesting thought from Zinnia Jones. At first I took it as providing an argument to excuse hypocrisy, which I would ordinarily think as somewhat counter to our treating hypocrisy as a sin in the Church of Virus. However on greater reflection, I think what he is really talking about the dangers of dogmatism and why sometimes hypocrisy is preferable to dogmatism, even though he didn't actually use the word "dogmatism". What do you think?

-Mo
...



Of course it has it's benefits!

Sophists used to be quite notorious during their days, making piles of money to defend even conflicting ideas non stop! The bad rep. of Atheism has it's roots from those times as those guys literally didn't gave a flying excrement about truth just juggling with concepts and the appropriate word strings behind them. Even Socrates was considered a sophist although I highly doubt that.

Remember that during those times the world was wholly explained with God concepts behind every minor detail of the innerworkings of the Universe. Swapping concepts with ease like an emotional machine probably equaled Atheism then, hence, bad bad ppl.

edit: formatting, fixes
« Last Edit: 2011-12-16 09:07:26 by Bohandez » Report to moderator   Logged
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Re:The benefits of hypocrisy?
« Reply #4 on: 2012-05-05 13:13:02 »
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Quote from: MoEnzyme on 2011-03-08 18:45:11   

Here was my comment response to ZJ on his video. If he responds, I'll post it here.

[Mo]I like this video, but I don't agree. It might seem semantic, but what I think you are really saying is that dogmatism (being REALLY wrong) has greater negative consequences than hypocrisy (being inconsistent). That doesn't make hypocrisy beneficial, but rather just less harmful than dogmatism. So yes, less wrong is better than more wrong but only in a relative sense. Being consistently right is of course the best.

I don't think you disagree with ZJ, s/he said "Hypocrisy isn't the best state of affairs, but it can be better than the alternatives".
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MoEnzyme
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Re:The benefits of hypocrisy?
« Reply #5 on: 2012-09-08 23:32:09 »
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One of the many problems I see with hypocrisy lies in the tendency for it to lead to dishonesty. Unlike the ten commandments, the sins and virtues do not exactly prohibit lying (false witness), although I often see hypocrisy as the main stand-in sin which generally explains the sinfulness of most lying (theft of the truth). In a theft (sin) based ethics operating on reciprocal altruism (empathic virtue), where such hypocrisies do not lead to harming other people (leading with empathy) I can understand how greater (if sometimes unspoken) virtue of empathy can lead a person to accept some lesser hypocrisies in avoidance of greater sins of hatred (dogmatic anger), or apathy (complicity in hatred).

In short, while some hypocrisies lead to the theft of truth from oneself and may lead to some time on a therapist's couch, it's better than thieving the truth from others or blocking empathy which would socialize the damage more.
« Last Edit: 2012-09-09 01:45:16 by MoEnzyme » Report to moderator   Logged

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(consolidation of handles: Jake Sapiens; memelab; logicnazi; Loki; Every1Hz; and Shadow)
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