Sunday, May 1, 2016

Do SJWs always lie? Two considerations.

I've been talking with Malcolm the Cynic about how true the claim is that SJWs Always Lie. My view is that SJWs comprise a large number of people, in a variety of situations, and that there's two things to keep in mind.

One is that a good number of SJWs are, God bless 'em, stupid. And I mean stupid - people who are not just ignorant of various facts and ideas and understandings, but who have considerable trouble trying to understand complicated topics that more intelligent people will grasp with greater ease. And the intelligent ones? They may honestly, truly believe this or that aspect of SJW dogma with their hearts and souls, but wholeheartedly investing oneself in a cause does not mean that they don't lie in the service of it.

By the way, it's not just SJWs. A lot of people, period, are low on the intelligence totem pole. That's just the way it is.

Malcolm and I see things differently there, but - in a completely unrelated way - good ol' Mike Gene at Shadow to Light provided a great working example of the sort of thing I'm talking about.

Most people who hit this blog have run into this claim before: atheism is not a belief, it is the lack of a belief. An atheist doesn't believe, much less claim, that God does not exist. They simply lack belief in God! They make no claims at all.

Mike points out, in an interview, that this is stressed - this 'atheism is a lack of belief' move - only to be immediately, blatantly countered by one of the atheists on the panel. This atheist says that everyone is godless because there are no gods, period. God doesn't exist, and he (the atheist) is just aware of this.

They later roll into some attempted damage control, going so far as to say that when atheists says that God doesn't exist, what they -really- mean is that they lack belief in God's existence. Atheists make no claims! This is the core, central mantra of the internet atheist: the plea that they're not making any claims, and thus they can't be expected to provide an argument. Only theists make claims on this topic!

That's a load of shit, of course. They couldn't even keep this charade up on Rubin's show. I'd go so far as to say that, for pretty well every atheist who insists that they just 'lack belief about God', you only have to interact with them about God once to see them contradict themselves on this point. You can point out their contradiction to them, and at most you're just going to get them to flail around and try to recast their words on the spot - or more commonly, switch topics altogether. But wait a week and drop in on a conversation they're having with someone else, and they'll be right back to 'atheism is a lack of belief', like clockwork.

Because even if it's not true, the image and narrative is dearly important to them. They do not want to have a burden of proof. They'll do anything to avoid it, because that burden terrifies them. It would screw up their attacks on Christianity, and that is paramount. Honesty isn't terribly important in comparison.

By the way: I'm not saying those atheists are SJWs. In fact, there's an atheist, even New Atheist, reaction against SJWs going on right now - largely because that whole 'Atheism+' thing has spiraled out of control, and an intellectual fatwa has been issued against all atheists who aren't on board with SJWdom. Rubin's part of that milieu, I believe. But it serves as a good example of how complete and obvious bullshit is nevertheless maintained by people, even rather intelligent people, even when it's been exposed. People lie, people bullshit, and...

..That leads me into the second consideration. The smarter someone is, the trickier it is to catch them in an out and out lie. Those atheists Mike is referring to? They can deflect like mad if you corner them. They said that atheism is a lack of belief and not a claim, and then one of them says that there are no gods, period? Well, by 'there are no gods' they just mean 'I lack belief'. They'll go back, rework, rephrase their arguments, cast them in a new light, and obfuscate until they're forced to do otherwise.

So let me use another example: good ol' BDK. Folks around here remember BDK - long-standing atheist commenter at Dangerous Idea. Neuroscientist, I believe. God, what a well-spoken individual. Thoughtful and polite. Great reputation, praised by various theists, and...

Oh, right. Liar. And I mean full-blown, actually-outdid-Loftus liar, complete with a fake identity charade of pretending to be a Christian so he could 'sympathetically' attack Christians and anti-atheist/materialist arguments. A guy who got exposed because he had a timely fuck-up where his double life happened to be caught on the internet equivalent of film, and whose -immediate- reaction to that was to try and completely scrub all evidence of his alternate persona from the internet.

None of this is controversial. But consider this: BDK had a good reputation. Most theists I know (wrongly, I thought at the time, for other reasons) praised BDK as a good, decent interlocutor. He was systematically lying to people on a daily basis for freaking months, even beyond a year. If he didn't screw up, if someone wasn't checking out the page at just the right time, his cover never would have been decisively blown.

Because BDK was smart. And smart people tend to make better liars.

My point is this: I'm more cynical than Malcolm the Cynic. If we come across an intelligent SJW who repeatedly peddles what is easily shown to be a lie, I suspect Malcolm will tend to take their labyrinthine justifications at face value. He will, perhaps by default, believe they're being honest, but they're confused. My default is different: I tend to suspect they are, if not completely full of shit, at the very least far less confident in their interpretation of things than they let on. Their confusion is not an explanation - it is an excuse.


malcolmthecynic said...

My point is this: I'm more cynical than Malcolm the Cynic.

There's a lot to chew on here, and I'll give a nice thorough response later, but the nutshell is, I don't agree with that. My position is MUCH scarier. Dealing with liars is easy once you realize they're lying. It's the true believers who are dangerous.

Crude said...


A true believer is capable of being a liar. In fact, in the absence of a fundamental countermeasure (like, say, the idea of dishonesty as a sin), it's powerful encouragement to lie.

This woman may well be a True Believer, in the sense that she believes SJW concerns related to LGBT activist crap are of dire importance. That LGBT prerogatives are true and right and necessary and so, so important.

Which would be precisely why she lied.

How about we go back to Michael Brown and 'Hands up, don't shoot!'? That was exposed as tremendous bullshit - and yet the chant remained. Brown is still a hero. Because the narrative is viewed as way, way more important than the truth.

Maybe we're talking past each other. If you think I'm saying that no SJW really believes their own diatribes - in however an imperfect way - you'd be wrong. I think some do, but I also don't think that their commitment is incompatible with lying. I think very stupid people are particularly prone to being true believers in the sense of being single-minded to the point of intellectual insulation against correction. I think very intelligent people are less likely to be -that- type of True Believer, but they can still have powerful motivations and sincere commitments to this or that cause - but that they also are A) more likely to lie, and B) less likely to be obviously caught, precisely because they're intelligent.

I don't believe in simple, singular descriptions of these problems that capture all relevant facets. I regard 'SJWs Always Lie' as a maxim that captures a general phenomenon, and one which is, far more often than not, accurate. It doesn't mean that they're lying about absolutely everything, just that they will lie, shamelessly, to defend and advance themselves and their cause both.

GoldRush Apple said...

I met a handful of Yalies about a year ago. They were part of the university's Young Democrat organization. You would think, as students of Yale, they were bright and insightful. Nope. They were naive, not really impressive in their thoughts and gurgled the usual talking points.

I've met three past presidents of the organization - Zac, Nicole and Taylor. In that order each succeeded the previous.

Zac was the nicest and the most reasonable, yet he just couldn't understand why people were complaining about Obama's job growth. He needed the president of Yale's GOP to tell him why.

Nicole was the liar. She was also the mos ambitious out of the three. She published an opinion piece (I could tell she was quite please with herself) a few days after the 2012 election and it was obvious, at least to me, that what she wrote about Romney was off-centered, so I googled the first two accusations that she wrote of him. Sure enough they were lies and she, being a history major (re-writing history, eh?), probably knew they were lies, or even misconceptions, but she wrote them anyways. She was later named Young Democrat of the Year. Her boyfriend, also into politics and a fellow Yalie, were deemed "the power couple" by a few close friends. Yikes. I still remember the look in her eyes: a little dead - sky blue - but dead.

Taylor was just an idiot; he was a homosexual and became involved in politics in high school. I felt he was using politics to fill his own insecurity - as if politics was his "safe place." He outright said he "found a home" in the organization.

Yale's GOP members? Surprisingly amicable and less fervent about politics. There was a sort of ease about them. I can't remember the president's name for 2012, but he was erudite when asked questions, as well as the VP, Elizabeth. I felt they knew they had to be more aware of their positions and its weaknesses.

I later found out the Yale Young Democratic Party, when they participated in the (D) vs (R) debate, was known to defer arguments saying, "We'll get back to you."

You can get a stellar score on the SAT, score a 4 or a 5 on all your AP tests, become a National Merit Finalist, and still be a complete tool/idiot and a liar hoping to "be the change."

malcolmthecynic said...

To all,

I think you're all giving too little credit to the human ability for self-deception. Consider the whole red pill/blue pill phenomenon. To those who have supposedly taken the "red pill", the blue pill world looks almost ludicrously silly. How can anybody believe half the crap people say about romance? And yet many did, for decades, up until a major shock knocked them around - like a divorce, for example. Or possibly just prolonged misery.

Look at the whole monarchy/tolerance thing with John C. Wright. John is definitely smarter than I am, more educated than I am, and, I believe, shockingly, obviously wrong on those two very important subjects. Like, tremendously wrong. And in ways that seem obvious and straightforward to me. But John isn't lying, and John isn't an idiot.

Let's go back to my cousin: Married at an age younger than me, manager of a Starbucks, no college debts, and a total, 150% SJW. She's not an idiot. Quite the contrary. She's probably smarter than I am; certainly she's more "street smart". But she grew up in much tougher circumstances than me and like many people with family issues she ended up being unbelievably socially liberal. She's no liar. She believes every word she says. It just all happens to be bullshit.

As someone who grew up in public school before switching over to a Catholic environment (that was really Catholic, and not a public school with the name of a Saint in front of it), I've experienced a lot of this stuff firsthand. It's hard to explain just how much it's crammed down your throat. For awhile I was pro-gay marriage and probably would have agreed with Cruz on abortion. Now, I grew up with more conservative parents and switched to a more conservative environment by high school. Most people have neither of those luxuries.

How, exactly, are we defining SJW anyway? You asked me what I would expect to see if SJW's always lie was really true. My answer is, a lot less SJW's.

I don't think my position is less cynical at all. In fact, I think it's very comforting to think that the enemy is either stupid or evil. But reality is rarely so simple.

Mr. Green said...

Ah, I'm more cynical than both of ya. I say everyone is stupid. And dishonest. Even people on the right side. Even you and me. But you've already heard of original sin. Obviously the degrees of stupidity and dishonesty vary greatly across individuals. However, it did take me a long time to get over my promethean-neopelagian instincts and learn that I can't just reason my way to the truth, let alone lead others to it. It's not that reasoning doesn't work, but nobody's perfect at it; and hence we need the Church.

And so I've come to a revelation that is in some ways similar to Crude's, and in some ways opposite. You can't necessarily reason (to any great extent) with anyone, even people who agree with you. Of course, if someone agrees with us, we don't usually challenge him to defend his position, so we aren't as likely to notice how problematic his justifications might be. It's not that he's lying about it — though he might be in some ways — but he can't put it all together in a correct way. I don't know if it's more or less worrisome that people who are wrong, even spectacularly wrong, believe — mostly, more or less — the crazy positions they try to defend.

Of course I'm not saying that some people don't flat-out lie about their positions. And there is an important question about Weltanschauungen that do not hold absolute truth to be of utmost importance, or even that there is such a thing as absolute truth: if someone doesn't believe lying is wrong, then his only motivation not to lie is whether he thinks he'll get away with it at any particular moment. But consider that someone who doesn't believe lying is wrong, is just in fact one of those crazy people who sincerely believes something that is spectacularly not true. How is someone who doesn't believe in truth any less unbalanced than someone who doesn't believe in male and female? Well, some people are outright evil: they know lying (etc.) is wrong and that's why they do it. That's disturbing. But most people aren't thoroughly evil (we're all somewhat evil, to a greater or lesser degree, and we're all tempted to... exaggerate to defend our beliefs), and there's no guaranteed way to tell whether someone is (kinda sorta) dishonest or being (kinda sorta) thick at any given point. Or rationalising, or lying to himself (or believing something now because he lied to himself so effectively in the past), or just plain being inconsistent.

In the middle of writing this comment, I saw Malcolm's reply: I don't think my position is less cynical at all. In fact, I think it's very comforting to think that the enemy is either stupid or evil. But reality is rarely so simple.

Sometimes comforting, sometimes self-congratulatory, maybe other things. It's tempting to think the "enemy" must be more stupid and/or evil, because otherwise they'd be on our side, right? But reality is vastly complex. The wonder is that it keeps going at all. A complex system like an automobile or piece of software tends to break down when it has a problem. It doesn't go on its merry way performing some other, unwanted, function — for the most part, if something goes wrong, it just seizes up, it crashes. So I have recently been getting amazed at how the world continues to function even though so many people can be so wrong about so many things. Why hasn't society utterly collapsed long ago? How are individuals (like some of our Special Friends in commentland) able to dress and feed themselves, given their abysmal intellectual abilities? (I wonder if there is a proof of the existence of God in there somewhere, that only with a comedic sense of Providence, could the world careen about so wildly without toppling over.)


Mr. Green said...

But because life is so elaborate and involved, even the craziest errors can be played out a long way. It's like talking to a conspiracy-theorist: it's no use pointing out the fatal flaw in his argument, because it's only fatal in a certain context — a reasonable context, but of course he will deny something else reasonable so that his theory can stand; and so on and so on... in principle, you can back him into a logical corner, but your argument ends up having to cover the entire universe to stop him wriggling out of one error by resorting to another. And that's when you're dealing with a position that is manifestly crazy, like "the moon-landings were faked" or "there are 17½ 'genders'", let alone positions that are merely wrong and not insane, such as some difficult issue of economics or psychology.

Yes, people who are smart and sincere (more or less) can get stuck in the rut of some bizarre ideology. Computer programmers and scientists can fail to grasp some fairly straightforward aspect of an argument by Aquinas (or Ross) — not just some controversial conclusion, but some minor sub-premise, or just some definition — but you'll never convince them they're wrong. Programmers and scientists are logical, right? Their jobs consist precisely in Doing Logic, after all! So if they do not see some point, then that proves the point is illogical!! They are stuck from whatever starting point they "know" must be true, and so anything that disagrees with that must be wrong. And that's not even an unreasonable way to be — if your starting points are true. Would you stop believing in the Bible because you couldn't answer a challenge to some passage; or would you give up science because you can't reconcile QM and Relativity? Of course not — it's rational not to abandon important views even if you don't have a fully satisfactory defence at a given moment. The catch is that some people attribute too much importance to positions that are false. But that makes a jumble of their whole belief-system, and getting them to see the light is not as easy as pulling out the rotten Jenga piece.

Or take everyone's favourite example, the SSPX: they're a fascinating (if somewhat disappointing) example to me precisely because they are the sort of people who "ought to know better", n'est-ce pas? They are not stupid, nor wicked, and yet... they have somehow seized upon a wrong idea somewhere in there that they rate more importantly than they should; some bee has become affixed in their collective bonnet that prevents them from excercising the humility and obedience that in any other context they would be the first to champion. It just goes to show that anyone can go wrong, maybe dishonestly, or maybe thick-headedly, or maybe because reality is large and contains multitudes and we are small and contain fallen natures.

This comment turned out more rambling than I wished, but I'll blame it on the world being so darn complicated. I don't know if it's any more or less disturbing than thinking people do or don't believe what they're saying, or even whether it's more or less cynical, come to that; but I do try to keep reminding myself that there but for the grace of God go I.

Nate Winchester said...

TL;DR version of Mr. Green (since he beat me to my point).

The world is insanely complex. It's less likely that someone is a "liar" about stuff than it is that they are operating from a data set and parameters that doesn't match yours.

THAT'S IMPORTANT: It's NOT that they're looking at the SAME data you are, and just looking at it upside down or sideways. NO. They have and are processing data THAT YOU ARE NOT (and vice versa).

Side Note: This is probably what leads to the paradox phenomena of brothers fighting worse than strangers. When two people meet where the different is most obvious (and are interested in discussion, not fighting), they will automatically assume their data doesn't match and go about looking for points of synchronization in their data sets. Or simpler: We look for commonality between us to better facilitate communication. When two people meet where the similarity is most obvious, they assume the aforementioned synchronization process. They will probably communicate for quite awhile, but eventually the two data sets will conflict, which is unexpected ("we're so much alike"), which leads to discomfort and conflict. Both sides then continue to operate under the assumption that both data sets are identical so the conclusions must be identical, but they're not, so one side must be lying - instead of ever realizing that the first assumption is the false point.

Crude said...

It's less likely that someone is a "liar" about stuff than it is that they are operating from a data set and parameters that doesn't match yours.

That I don't buy. It goes against experience too much. I'd suggest it's more likely that people with 'different parameters' will many times have very different parameters for when they're willing to lie.

That sort of framing runs on the assumption that most people are basically good and they won't lie. But another possibility is that certain kinds of mindsets and ideologies attracts an outsized number of liars.

Nate Winchester said...

It goes against experience too much.

Experience? Or interpretation? ;)

As the quote from Star Trek goes, "When a man is convinced he's going to die tomorrow, he'll probably find a way to make it happen." So let's amend it to: "When a man is convinced he's being lied to, he'll find evidence for it, no matter how truthful are others."

That sort of framing runs on the assumption that most people are basically good and they won't lie.

No, it assumes that until way cool mind powers are invented, one should work from the evidence at hand and not add complexities until data requires it. Most of the lies we hear come not from others, but from ourselves.

Crude said...

Experience? Or interpretation? ;)

Experience, since I actually have a pretty decent track record at not just suspecting liars, but actually demonstrating that I was, in fact, dealing with a liar. See Papalinton the Plagiarist. See Zack, aka BDK, the sock puppet. See others.

So let's amend it to: "When a man is convinced he's being lied to, he'll find evidence for it, no matter how truthful are others."

Except you can flip it to the converse: 'When a man is convinced he's being told the truth, he'll find evidence for it, no matter how dishonest the person is.'

I've seen enough examples of SJWs lying, and the gimmick of 'SJW activist fakes hate crime, please tearfully they just wanted to start a conversation' is legion.

No, it assumes that until way cool mind powers are invented, one should work from the evidence at hand and not add complexities until data requires it.

It's funny how 'way cool mind powers' are how people describe reasoned inferences to negative traits, but when you assume positive traits - honesty, which itself is a conclusion about intention - that's just going with the data. Unless the data indicates a pattern of lying, in which case a straightforward acknowledgment of the pattern is back to way cool mind powers.

So no, pardon me. I'll continue with the very human and reasonable tack of noting that people who tend to lie are, in fact, likely to be liars, and noting the usual patterns of a liar indicate as much. You are free to gaslight yourself into believing that (say) Hillary Clinton is the most honest and transparent presidential candidate we've ever had and your strong suspicions that she is, in fact, full of shit is just irrational paranoia on your hand because you can only know people are honest, not dishonest, or whatever mumbo jumbo.