This is NOT about Presidential politics!
In a March 14, 2018 posting, John Rosemond – a provocative and not universally acclaimed “family psychologist” – highlighted a New York Times article by Alex Stone (Jan. 5) entitled “Is Your Child Lying to You? That’s Good.” This article by Stone offers supportive commentary on a 1980s study which found that children who disobeyed an instruction and then denied having disobeyed the instruction were later found to have higher IQs than those who admitted disobedience. Speculation is offered that 21st Century parents might, therefore, justifiably reduce their angst about higher IQ/lower moral behavior, since it seems a better indicator of potential success than lower IQ/higher moral behavior in their offspring. They might, thus, tend to tolerate more dishonesty [perhaps even encourage it!]
At ground level, there seems little doubt that intelligence, creativity, and “craftiness” in artfully manipulating one’s environment to one’s best personal advantage is a “gift” many successful persons exhibit deep into adulthood.
So why mess with something that works so well? Indeed!
Personal observation suggests that the higher one goes in the pecking order, the greater the tendency seems to be to fabricate “new realities”. It’s better if we think we know where we’re going, and better yet if we personally OWN the new reality. Would be motivational gurus encourage us to imagine/envision what we want to happen and it will more likely happen.
Of all professions, scientists – the benchmark “Truth Tellers” – are not immune to such behavior. In fact, they ALSO seem to thrive on extrapolative conjecturing, and are almost institutionally required to do so. Competition for grants and contracts is so intense that one must include in applications submitted for funding the projected outcomes of investigation, at least 30% of which are already proven to be true!
Scientists are also compelled to publish the results of their investigations – at least 3-5 major papers per year in peer-reviewed journals – building their reputations as national/world renowned experts in their respective fields.
These are very intelligent, creative human beings who, by force of necessity, must become well versed in their “craft” to succeed. Since serendipity is often involved in some of the biggest scientific advances, some latitude of “extravagance” in truth conjecturing is tolerated. However, the term “Scientific Misconduct” emerged as a significant problem, beginning in the 1970s, and has become a mainstream concern in the 21st Century, as pressure on scientific output and competition for funding have both increased.
Even so, this is not the worst or most immediate concern for most Americans. More loosely regulated financial markets are even more prone to “extravagance” in truth conjecturing, manipulation and outright fraud. Consider the recent cases of Bernie Madoff and Wells Fargo Bank, which are not necessarily “isolated instances”.
So, intelligence and “craftiness”, “extravagance” in truth conjecturing — even outright fraud – can transport one a good distance down an “alternative success” road, but the risk of going over the edge of reasonability, even as societal tolerance grows with time (simply allowing that “this is how things get done”), inevitably increases as brazen “bluffonery” escalates unchecked to patterned behavior.
Commercialization of science, particularly in biomedical & pharmaceutical sciences, can be especially truth-tenuous: The most recent case-in-point involves Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos blood testing company.
Scientists want and need to believe that what they are doing makes sense, and, thus, they construct hypotheses – truths yet to be proven – but are sorely tempted to “prove” them by running “weighted” experiments and by “weighting” the outcomes so the data fit the hypothesis. In fact, sufficient emotional investment is often involved that one is tempted to transpose hypotheses into foregone conclusions. Hypotheses can become “untouchable” and, being, thus, seen as connected to ultimate Truth, can give one an unrealistic sense of indemnification. So great is the emotional investment in “pet hypotheses” that they are often taken as foregone universal truths.
The good news is that we are all “Truth Seekers”. We want and need to believe in something immutable. The bad news is that we want our small pond and tribal “personal truths” to reign supreme. The “truth urge” is so overpowering that we place ourselves at the center of owning and adjudicating Truth. And we will go to limitless lengths to find (or create) UNIQUE “truths” – ergo conspiracy theories and all of their sequelae.
The most tragic outcome of “white lies”, tribal truths and half-baked hypotheses morphing into indelibly darkened habits and alt-truths is the inevitable loss of INTEGRITY. Accountability, Authenticity and INTEGRITY are the three great cornerstones and ground-levelers of life, and the prime determinants of “topping-out” our true potential. INTEGRITY is also the last bastion determinant of well being and self worth. When integrity can neither be claimed nor sustainably fabricated, little else matters. Loss of INTEGRITY both rivals and contributes to hopelessness … the main trigger for suicide.
So INTEGRITY is one of the most important elements in what people call CHARACTER. Own it! Numbness and detachment from probity may be taken as acceptable “options of expedience” in the rush toward tangible success, but diminutions of both soul and spirit almost certainly follow, and “Second Chances” are not always grantable options. Press on to make your “Personal Truth” as close to “Universal Truth” as possible. You will be rewarded by an ability to sleep well at night with INTEGRITY intact. Quartermaster
Quote of the Week
“Beware of the stories you read or tell [yourself]; subtly, at night, beneath the waters of consciousness, they are altering your world. [But the world-at-large is not altered, and the dissonance becomes more extreme and less tolerable with time.]” Ben Okri / [QM]