Saturday, April 16, 2016

Musings on Liars and Hierarchy

Truth is not arrived at by consensus, neither does it change based on (un)popularity.  No number of people you can get to agree with you makes you right.  Neither does nearly universal disagreement with your position make you wrong.  The argumentum ad populum, or the appeal to consensus, is part of the liar's art, being a tool of manipulation.  The point is to apply social pressure to get someone to change their position by threat of devaluation of the individual's position within the social hierarchy, sometimes through the threat of force.

The truth is very rarely popular, since it doesn't permit anyone to beat the market of reality.

Similarly, truth is independent of the credentialing, or lack thereof, of the one who purports to claim it.  Having a credential in some subject or other does not make a person's claims correct, neither does lacking a relevant credential in some subject or other make a person's claims incorrect.  The argumentum ad verecundiam, or appeal to authority, is part of the liar's art, being a tool of manipulation.  The point is to position the credentialed as higher in the social hierarchy than the non-credentialed and gain conformity to the credentialed's opinion by the non-credentialed through threat of devaluation of the non-credentialed's position within the social hierarchy, sometimes through the threat of force.

Its use in courtrooms is because courts value time and money over truth.  But, then, most people do.

Needless to say, those who value their hierarchical position, or, in other words, interpersonal relationships or security in the world, above truth are compromised and manipulable.  It might be in part why Jesus said: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, or husband, yea and his own life also; or in other words, is afraid to lay down his life for my sake, cannot be my disciple....  So likewise, whosoever of you forsaketh not all that he hath he cannot be my disciple."

Would you willingly trust in a God who was compromised and manipulable?  All that would have to be done would be to threaten something such a God cared about and he'd yield.

As an aside, while the external markings of hierarchy may vary from society to society, the constant that I can see across all of them is access control.  The higher in a hierarchy one is, the fewer people have access to one.  Just as points of contrast, consider the degree of difficulty in accessing, say, the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - even merely by letter - contrasted with the degree of difficulty in accessing Jesus Christ himself during his mortal ministry.  We might extend this comparison by examining the relative degree of difficulty in accessing the modern Apostles in the LDS Church versus the degree of difficulty in accessing the Lord's apostles during their mortal ministries after the Crucifixion.  Clearly, the General Authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints occupy a higher hierarchical position than the Lord and his disciples did during their mortal ministries, based on the complete lack of access control to the Lord and his disciples and the near-impossibility of accessing the General Authorities.

But, then, the Lord and his disciples were truly servants.

Which brings me to a further aside - the point of keeping the commandments is not to make the world a better place.  It's not to change others' minds nor behavior.  While giving to charities is commendable, it is not a substitute for dealing your own substance to the poor directly.  The purpose of giving to the poor directly is to humble yourself - to condescend from your hierarchical position in society and bring yourself down to be equal with them.  Sit with them.  Talk to them.  Feed them.  Bring them into your home.  Bathe them.  Clothe them.  Visit them.  Grant their requests.  If you desire to be a disciple of God, or, in other words, a disciple of Love, then why not practice the art of Love?  That's the point of keeping the commandments of Jesus - through practice they teach you the discipline of Love, which vaunteth not itself.

And, by the way, it won't necessarily be pleasant - it killed Jesus - but it will be educational.  

"And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple."