Hypocrisy: Not an absolute arbiter of truth, an impetus to investigate.

Hypocrisy is not absolutely linked to a lack of truth. There could even be times when the existence of hypocrisy is actually indicative of truth. However, the two can be, and often are, linked.

The important thing to consider when confronted with hypocrisy is our reaction, what it inspires us to do. Certainly, there are times when a hypocrite inspires us merely to do nothing more than pull back and remember one of the most important lessons we can learn: you can’t argue with idiots. But there are also times when the presence of hypocrisy reflects upon something that is important to us or affects us in some way. And in those times one should not be complacent. As has been pointed out here, seeing hypocrisy and automatically assuming that its presence immediately and fully negates the position of the hypocrite is foolish and small-minded. However, it is my contention that doing the opposite – seeing hypocrisy, knowing that doesn’t necessarily negate truth, so automatically assuming the hypocrite’s position is still true – is equally as foolish and small-minded, indeed, maybe more so as such an attitude can lead more directly to complacency.

The appropriate response to hypocrisy is to question and investigate. The existence of hypocrisy within a certain doctrine can be indicative of that doctrine’s truth. So, if truth is important to you, you must go all the way. When you see hypocrisy you must not merely recognize it and either accept or dismiss it, you must discover its source, what drives it, how it arises, its specificity, what the prevalence of such hypocrisy is, etc. There are indeed doctrines to which hypocrisy inherent, and such a doctrine is unlikely to be true. There are other doctrines that have the possibility of being motivated but forces other than truth – cults and financial schemes come to mind. Hypocrisy can expose these motivations. The continued prevalence of hypocrisy is also to be considered. It is not uncommon for a particular doctrine to actually inspire hypocrisy among its adherents. So when it comes up, one must dig deeper and discover whether such a thing is true.

This concept is particularly important when hypocrisy is discovered within one’s own doctrine(s). We are all too complacent with our own beliefs, be they religious, political, environmental or otherwise. If you’re an environmentalist you should be the first person to seek answers the question of Al Gore’s carbon offset business. If you’re an evangelical Christian, you should be first to confront issues such as Ted Haggard’s fall from grace. If you’re a liberal political adherent, you should be the first to deal with recent issues of tax evasion. If you’re a conservative and republican political adherent, an enormous amount of the Bush presidency needs an explanation, hopefully from you. If you’re a Catholic, the discombobulated support of life from the Vatican is ready for you to address. Indeed, the hypocrisy that should be most thoroughly investigated is the hypocrisy in your own midst. If it’s not, you might be a hypocrite.

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10 Comments

Filed under Grant

10 responses to “Hypocrisy: Not an absolute arbiter of truth, an impetus to investigate.

  1. CGG

    “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself;

    I am large – I contain multitudes.”

    -Walt Whitman

  2. llabesab

    Hey Gore!!! You can rest easy. Your Martinis will be perfectly chilled because it has been reported (See Google/Yahoo), that during the last 10 years, Antarctica has added 400 Trillion tons of ice to its mass–that’s “TRILLION”, with a capital “T.” Or is that too “inconvenient” a truth for you.

    Oh yes!! That beautiful, tropical Brazilian resort, Rio, has had its first snowfall in 72 years. Guess God hasn’t gotten the Global Warming memo. You should really keep him in the loop considering that you think of yourself as a close family member.

    And Al, re all that melting ice in the Arctic–the melt that’s supposed to inundate every coastal city in North America, you really should perform a basic experiment. Put 10 ice cubes in a glass. Fill the glass to the brim with water. Lay it on a counter. Walk away and come back in 3 hours. And what will you find? Nothing. The water didn’t spill over. Since 95% of Arctic Ice is “Sea Ice”. i.e., “Floating Ice”, you just learned another “Inconvenient Truth,”, the “Truth” of “displacement.” Tip; Martinis are best made with American Vodka made in Texas–“TITO’S.” Distilled 7 times. And, despite James Bond, Vodka Martinis are best “stirred”–not “shaken.” Shake is OK for Gin Martinis; But “Stir is better for Vodka Martinis. Prosit!!

  3. czf

    Nothing like “google/yahoo” as a scientific citation.
    Let me get this right, though. Arctic ice is hitting record thaws (the northwest passage thawed for the first time ever!), but Antarctic ice is increasing?
    As someone who tries to keep up on the environmental news, and most others who do as well will tell you, you’re right. Unfortunately, that’s not a surprise, or a counter argument to climate change.
    You can take a quick peek at the NASA website to see why that might be happening as a result of warmer air, if you were so inclined, here: http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/sea_ice.html
    Or you can rail on Al Gore’s beverage of choice.

    It just occurred to me that you might be simply portraying the point Brandon was making about the hypocrisy of railing against Al Gore as a response to Global Warming. If so, well, enjoy.

    (as you discursionists will find out, I love to blog, and comment on blogs. hope you don’t mind)

  4. GCC

    Keep the comments coming. That’s what makes this worth writing. Check back often. Tell your friends. We’ll do the same at your blog.

  5. blraatikka

    Chris– we love it!
    So Grant, you’re saying that investigating the hypocrisy, what it’s motivations are, etc., can give us insight into the truth of the claims? I agree– but can you explain how sometimes hypocrisy might actually indicate the truth of the claim?
    And let me register my objection to your assertion that the Catholic church’s view of life is inconsistent– but that’s not really on point here.

  6. GCC

    Well, B, I doubt the presence of hypocrisy ever lends much to the inherent truth of a given doctrine. I probably should’ve clarified that.

    Off Point:
    The widely held Catholic view of life may be consistent. I’d say it is. I certainly didn’t say it is incosistent. I said it’s confused(ing). Certain actions may contradict an otherwise consistent view of life, and the contradiction appears to betray ulterior motives which may indeed have little or nothing to do with life. The presence of ulterior motives, would then be a good example of the kind of thing that creates hypocrisy and indicates a lack of doctrinal truth. You’re right that this isn’t necessarily the topic, but bringing it up helps elucidate the broader point.

  7. czf

    “Certain actions may contradict an otherwise consistent view of life, and the contradiction appears to betray ulterior motives which may indeed have little or nothing to do with life.”

    For example? What is it that actually is confused about the Catholic view? What are the contradictions? You did indeed seem to imply that the Catholic idea of “support of life” is hypocritical, so I’m just wondering about what, specifically?
    Out of curiosity. I’m not Catholic or anything, but if I’m anything, it’s probably ‘Catholic’. Or at least ‘catholic.’

  8. GCC

    Examples of the Vatican’s actions that confuse or render incomplete its support of life:
    A Timeline of Cited Statements Against The Use of Prophylactics
    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae_en.html
    An Op-Ed on The Issue With Some Relevant Quotes
    An Article Discussing the Implications, etc. of Humanae Vitae, etc. – haven’t read this one all the way through.

    That’s probably sufficient for now. I’m remembering a particularly poignant quote from Pope John Paul II on a trip Brazil (or somewhere else in South America) encouraging the people to there to simply keep having Catholic babies. I haven’t been able to find it cited yet today though.

    So, on with some explanation:
    I maintain that the Vatican’s behavior in light its view on life is indeed hypocritical. As I understand it, the theoretical position is based in the general importance, dignity, positive nature (although that brings up a whole different topic which will likely be blogged about), and sanctity of life, all life. However, the examples above indicate a practical position that seems to disregard, at least to some extent, the importance of life. So, what is the source of the contradiction? I do not know enough of this to say for certain, but I would hypothesize that the contradiction is the result of motivations that are ancillary to a general support of life. As an example, an ulterior motive may very well be the control of behavior. Alternatively, another ulterior motive could be the desire to swell the ranks of the church. But let’s stick with the first one for now, as the other is far more speculative. The real motivation of the Vatican’s actions surrounding the issue of life may, in fact, be nothing more than an attempt to control the behavior of individuals under the auspices of protecting life. However, the actions taken in the attempt to control behavior are contrary to the concept of protecting life, betraying that the motivation to control behavior is superior to the motivation to protect life. Continually, if the motivation to protect life were superior and the Vatican truly believed that such ends would be best achieved through the control of behavior, there should not be any problem with presenting their case in such a manner. This, however, is not the case. And it seems then reasonable to conclude that the hypocrisy between the Vatican’s views and actions on life is further indicative of a hidden agenda – and truths tend not to need to remain hidden.

    One might argue that the attempts by the Vatican to control behavior aren’t actually bad, and that they may even serve to promote the interests of life in the end. That falls within the realm of possibility. However, there are certainly other (and apparently much more effective) ways to promote life that are not dependent upon behavior control. It could be further argued that the religious elements of the Vatican’s life conundrum make the behavior control element much less important. After all, (some) religion is kind of all about behavior control (or at least modification), right? Right. And that’s why religion is voluntary, and why the attempts at behavior control by the Vatican are particularly sinister. The nature of such decrees and how they are dealt with in governance and politics has the potential to influence those who should be beyond the influence of any religious institution – those who have not freely elected to be a part of a religious community.

    Back more closely to the original topic of the post, this example opens up the opportunity for further investigation into the truth of a given doctrine that is inspired by an observed hypocrisy. Questions to be asked may be: “Why the need for behavior control?” “Why not be open about it?” “What are the views, generally and otherwise, on sex and what is their source?” “And how does that source compare with its source?” “What makes the attempts at behavior control successful?” “What is the Vatican’s value of life?”

    There are many more, but I’d need more time than I have to formulate them. And I have more thoughts on this in general. Shall this topic become a post of its own? Potential Title: “I like life. Wait, no I don’t. Well, I really do, but only if…” 😉 or…much better…”How to make an atheist’s job easy – An essay from Vatican City” Thoughts? Seriously though, tongue-in-cheek aside (had to throw that in because someone mentioned a need for levity), should this be its own post topic?

  9. Lots of of people talk about this topic but you said really true words!!

  10. GCC

    Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read/comment, adderiepreorm.

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