Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Tales of Lost Gloves

Lost gloves at rest on the sidewalk, lonely like a condemned houseConstructions of human need abandoned to nature's reclaimation.

I recently saw the start of an interesting dialogue on lying, begun by Joe Born (Linux entepreneur, started Neuros Technologies). Joe suggests that technology will change how, when, and why we lie. Advances in information retrieval and flow make lies more apparent and (in theory) would allow annotation of public speeches with markers of unreliability. Another reader remarks on this by deconstructing the notion of truth. I think Joe gets it partly right. Lies that really are about public deception might become difficult provided:

  • News media don't strongly take sides, or
  • People reliably seek news media of various perspectives, rather than those that meet their preconceptions
Both of these are more questions of human nature than technology; some portions of society will benefit from honesty-aiding technologies, but we won't make the most of them unless more of us strive for virtues most of us lack.

The area I think Joe neglects is another major role of lies; as mechanisms for comfort, distance, or posturing. Many lies (about what we think, what we're doing, our plans, etc) are meant to keep certain topics (or realities) "off the table" until and unless they're ready to be talked about. This acts as a social lubricant — instead of needing to talk about matters that:

  • are not very concrete
  • might change
  • are uncomfortable
  • would remove plausible deniability
  • would if acknowledged change how those involved can relate to each other
  • would if acknowledged create unwanted social obligations on some particular matter
  • or similar; this is an open-ended category
lies can help bolster a silence.

I presently believe that these are less appropriate for people seeking (or in) romantic relationships; those by their nature aim for a closeness that makes understanding the nature of one's partner's humanity essential, and lies (or omission) don't fit well into that. Between most others, they're appropriate when used correctly in suitably limited ways.

I reject the other reply to Joe; yes, the world is sometimes complicated, but the very purpose of science is to reach a reasonable approximation of truth. Sometimes the world is complex, but that doesn't support a postmodernist critique, just more careful treatment of subjects and a recognition that some things are only partly true. The possibility of spin does not eliminate the possibility of reasonable approaches to truth.

On the conflict in Egypt, so far I think my predictions and understanding of the situation were correct. I was pretty off regarding Libya. I did not believe the Libyan people were capable of pushing back against Qadaffi, but the events of the last week have proven me very wrong. I don't expect Qadaffi to go down easily; if he does, it will probably be very bloody. Qadaffi has already flown non-arab mercenary forces into some areas, but it's probably too late. As of very recent, the insurrection has moved into the capital with most of the eastern part of the country having left his control and some parts of the army having defected. I expected Libya, of all the countries in the region, to surpress any uprising successfully.

In other news:


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