No, It Isn’t
Today’s post is about honesty. Actually, that’s not quite true (a wonderful euphemism for a deliberate untruth) – it’s about deception.
Sometimes, deception can take the form of a blatant lie. At other times, it might be a subtle twisting of the facts or the deliberate omission of relevant information. Sometimes, you do it to others. At other times, others do it to you. Then there are the times that you do it to yourself.
When you look at visual illusions, you may know that the lines are the same length, the dots aren’t actually there or that the moon should be the same size in all parts of the night sky but you can’t override these perceptual illusions with this knowledge. Your thinking is being deceived by your eyes; you’re aware of the deception but unable to do anything about it. You see the lines as different lengths, you see the dots appear and you see the moon as much bigger near the horizon than it appears overhead.
But is it possible to remove this explicit awareness of the deception and still deceive yourself? The answer is ‘No’. Actually, that’s not quite true – the answer is ‘Yes’. You can and do change your behaviour, even when you have previously performed to your absolute maximum, to conform appropriately to an external reference point while still believing you are performing to your absolute maximum and without knowing if this reference point actually applies to you. You deceive yourself, usually with no conscious knowledge of the deception.
Hesta Prynn asks repeatedly – “Can We Go Wrong” – and the answer is that we can, even when we think we’re being truthful to ourselves.
Deception between people is an unfortunately common occurrence; deception within a person can also occur, without conscious awareness that this deception is taking place. This personal deception is based on a (presumed) reason, which begs the question:
While it may be falsely reasoned, is this self-deception reasonable and unavoidable?
‘tis nobler thinks the answer to this question is ‘No’. Actually, that’s not quite true, or is it?