It is a good thing to try to put oneself in someone else’s shoes. We shouldn’t fool ourselves about how well we can do that, but for some situations, we do a pretty good job. For example, if we watch a movie and someone gets attacked by a Great White Shark, we know we would feel pretty terrified and it’s a fairly good assumption that they are going to be terrified.
Let’s imagine how it feels inside the experience of a person who lies constantly and absurdly about how wonderful and great he is; how beloved he is by everyone; how he is the best at everything. Let’s say he declares himself to be a wobble-free genius. Can you imagine how empty he feels inside? He believes himself to be utterly incapable of anything which is why he insists he are successful at everything.
I saw the results of such a pathetic hypothetical person once up close and personal in real life. Trump took over a golf course that I was a member at. He made some nice improvements. At that point, I didn’t know him from Adam. But some people at the club did and they quit. Some of those people had been former club champions. So what does Trump do? He orders that the plaques be redone with his name as club champions for those years. He not only had not won those tournaments. He had not even played in them.
Just imagine how you would feel looking at a trophy with your name on it knowing full well that you had done nothing to deserve it. Would you feel proud or ashamed? My guess is that you would feel ashamed. This false “accomplishment” tarnishes every real accomplishment you ever had or that you ever will have. This is a normal response.
But Trump, for whatever reason, has such subterranean self-esteem that any semblance of praise, however false or ill-deserved, feels to him as a seeming life-saving desperate drop of moisture for the shriveled old soul that lives within the shriveled old body. If someone flatters him and he knows it’s flattery, he values that more than he would an honest complement. Because to him, opinions about his abilities or behaviors don’t interest him in the slightest. He’s not going to change because of feedback from this or that politician, family member, thinker, advisor, etc. But he just wants the shadow of true praise that is not based upon fact at all but upon power.
He failed as a businessman. He failed as a family member. He failed his own honor when he dodged the draft a half dozen times. He proved himself a racist by calling for the death penalty for four black youths — who it turned out were innocent. Trump didn’t really know anything about the case. He just wanted to take advantage of an opportunity to put his “hat in the ring” for being a racist candidate. Just in case anyone slept through Act 1 due to jet lag or too much wine or whatever, Act 2 was ranting and raving about Obama being an African. “I’ve got proof and I’ll show it the day after the day after the day after the day after….” And, let’s think about it. Here’s a guy — Trump — whose known as a golfer, a playboy and a real estate developer. He’s on record supporting many liberal policies like being pro-abortion. Why would he really care whether Obama was born in Africa? This guy who dodged the draft six times and is already cheating on his taxes suddenly becomes outraged at a particular part of the Constitution that says you must be born in America to be President. Seem plausible?
In case the fifteen foot high blinking neon-Nazi sign from Act 1 wasn’t bright enough, let’s put on the fifty foot high blinking neon-Nazi sign in Act 2. Oh, and if that doesn’t do it for you. I mean, if you were really really zonked on for Acts 1 and 2, don’t you worry! The message of this play is simple and if you didn’t notice the neon-Nazi signs before, now they flashing out a new warning on the subway walls: “Civil War! Then, make me dictator of AmeriKKKa!”
It’s evil and it’s horrible, but it’s also pathetic. Imagine how empty and worthless TFG must feel that he wants the support of people, like him, who derive their sense of worth from something like their supposed race (itself a fiction) or their gender or their inherited wealth — and not from anything they’ve ever accomplished.
At this point, an image occurs to me. A black hole, metaphorical but also quite literal, exist at the very center of TFG. In order to fill it, he is compelled to suck every shred of truth and goodness from everyone around him. More and more people get sucked into the vortex. Who knows? Maybe in some parallel universe, it all comes out as beautiful anti-matter. That may be nice for them. Over there. In that universe.
But for us, back here on the earth we’re familiar with, it’s just plain out — terrible. It exacerbates the emptiness disease that TFG has become. It corrupts all those around him. They all know they’re lying and they each know each of the others is lying. Just like the false championships, if anyone famous goes along with the big lie, that action tarnishes everything good these Senators and Representatives and Newscasters ever did. It outweighs everything from the day, 40 years ago, as a cub scout, they helped someone cross the street to the day that they helped craft significant legislation. All of that is gone. And, for what? Nothing. That’s the real hell of it for them. For nothing.
All of them realize that if there is a coup, none of them will ever be safe again. And, they’ve already pledged their allegiance to the dictator. So, they have no real power. They have to do whatever the oligarchs tell Trump to make them do. They were afraid they’d lose power if they acted ethically; so instead, they acted unethically and as a result lost every shred of power. It’s a great dramatic thread for a farce. Unfortunately, it’s embedded in a real tragedy. And that kind of takes the fun out of it, at least for me.
They could, theoretically, have a great awakening and decide as one to throw off the shackles of the oligarchs and rejoin the difficult game of government by democracy. They would have more power than they ever had before because they would be free to work creatively and solve actual problems with actual work. They would help build a better world for their children and for everyone’s children to live in. They would certainly feel cleaner. That would be something that they could be proud of; that they wouldn’t mind the history books touting; a legacy for grandchildren.
I wonder how the Nazis who were still alive in Germany after the war explained their role to their grandchildren.
If a chicken and a half can lay an egg and a half in a day and a half, how long does it take ONE chicken to lay ONE egg?
What do you think?
Before we discuss the answer to that one, let’s move on to the American House of Representatives. There are 435 people in the House of Representatives. What is the probability that at least two folks in the House share a birthday?
We will return to these two puzzles shortly. Meanwhile…
Imagine that you are one of our distant ancestors foraging for food. You come across something that looks just like a blackberry bush. On it are what appear to be nice ripe blackberries. They feel like blackberries so you pick one. You pop it in your mouth and it tastes like a blackberry. It has the same seeds that you are used to being in a blackberry fruit. It smells like a blackberry. Chances are extremely good that it is, in fact, a blackberry.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some plants out there that could give you trouble! The deadly poisonous amanita mushrooms are said to taste good. And, the white “death angel” has been mistaken for an ordinary field mushroom with deadly results. A single mushroom will kill you but a half a mushroom may only make you wish you were dead.
In general, however, plants, animals, and situations are redundantly coded right at the surface. A blackberry plant has leaves that look like blackberry leaves. It has thorns that look like blackberry thorns and also feel like blackberry thorns. The fruits look like blackberries! They have a texture of blackberry. They smell like blackberries. They taste like blackberries. Though there are some deadly exceptions, in the natural environment, we are generally clued in to what something is by multiple senses. If it looks like a blackberry and smells like a blackberry and feels like a blackberry and tastes like a blackberry, chances are excellent that it really is a blackberry.
When it comes to things produced by human beings, however, we must be much more cautious.
In some cases, such as the puzzles at the beginning of this blog post, the intention is pedagogic. But in other cases, people mislead you for much more nefarious purposes. Someone could intentionally spray the blackberry patch where you go with an odorless, tasteless, invisible poison. It could poison your body and kill you stone cold dead. Or, they could poison you and make you so sick you wish you were dead. Who would do such a thing? Well, the name “Vladimir Putin” springs to mind. He has arranged for the poisoning of his political foes and critics.
It isn’t only your body that is at risk, however. So is your brain. The tricks that people play are not necessarily all deadly. Often, they just want to take your money. So, they will tell you a drink is “All Natural Fruit Drink” because they know that most people care about their health and the health of their families and “All Natural Fruit Drink” sounds like something natural, healthy, and nutritious. But legally, as it turns out, those words mean absolutely nothing in America. That “all natural” drink may be anything but! It could be mainly water and corn syrup! It might have as little as 5% fruit juice.
What do you think is in “Air Freshener”? “Air Freshener” sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? After all, who doesn’t like fresh air? If you’ve been in a musty cabin waiting for the rain to abate and you step outside into the cool, crisp, fresh air, that is a wonderful sensation. Ah! Breathe in that fresh air. And, of course, when you see a commercial for “Air Freshener” on TV, or read the title which might say, “Ocean Breezes Air Freshener” it reminds your brain perhaps of your first trip to the ocean.
What is really in air fresheners is, in many cases, anything but an air freshener. Do you know what a really good air freshener is? Opening your windows. But the sprays that you buy in the store can contain:
Carcinogens Perfumes Chemicals that mess with your hormones
Chemicals that deaden your sense of smell
Not exactly an “Air Freshener” is it?
In the puzzles above, the description is also misleading, not because I want to steal your money or poison you, but because I care about my fellow citizens being sold their death warrants packaged as something wonderful. Hopefully, if we become aware of how the surface features of a situation can mislead us, we’ll be less prone to fall for such tricks.
The tobacco companies were good at such tricks. They would sell you something deadly and addictive but advertised to make you think that smoking their product would make you “manly” or “sexy” or “sophisticated” or “urbane” or “adult.” It wouldn’t make you any of those things. It would harm your lungs and your heart and turn your skin gray and make your breath smell bad. But those aren’t very good selling points, you see. Eventually, the government required cigarette companies to put health warnings on the packages. Do you think that the cigarette companies eagerly complied? Guess again. They fought tooth and nail and paid off politicians for years so they wouldn’t have to own up to what their product was really doing to you.
So, let’s return to the puzzles. In the first puzzle, many people are led by the structure of the language presented to answer wrongly.
“If a chicken and a half can lay an egg and a half in a day and a half, how long does it take ONE chicken to lay ONE egg?” The first answer that will likely pop into many minds is “ONE day!” It “seems logical.”
But it’s dead wrong. Consider this analogy: “If nine women can have nine babies in nine months, how long does it take ONE woman to have ONE baby?” One month? No, of course not. It takes nine months. And it will take a day and a half for the one chicken to lay one egg. (Or, a hundred chickens to lay a hundred eggs).
The second puzzle will probably only cause problems if you have been educated about probability.
What? Yes. If you ask a smart ten year old, they will figure it out. Basically, there are only 365 days in a year (or 366 in a leap year). Since the number of Representatives in the House is 435, even if the first 365 people in the House have different birthdays, the next person you look at has to overlap with someone. It’s just like this: Suppose you only have some identical black sox and identical white sox. If you pick three sox in the dark, you have to have at least one match.
If, however, you studied statistics, you may have come across “The Birthday Problem.” As it turns out, if as few as 30 people are in a room, the chances are greater than 50:50 that at least two share a birthday. If the puzzle reminds you of this, your mind runs along lines like this: “Oh, yes, I remember this. It’s “The Birthday Problem” and with even 30 people the odds are good, so with 435 people the probability must be really high. I’d say the odds are 99:1.” No. Wrong. Close, but wrong. There must be at least one match.
It’s very easy for us to rely on the surface of things — including its label or what advertisers say about that thing — as a valid indicator of what’s underneath. And, in nature, that is often true. But in modern society, if you simply believe what someone says, you will certainly lose some money and at some point, you may also lose your entire fortune, your freedom, and your family. It’s happened before. Hitler, to name one famous example, told people he was going to make Germany great and that the “Third Reich” would last a thousand years.
He killed himself in the end. But not before causing the deaths of millions — including millions of Germans. He told people lies that they wanted to hear. He divided people and made people believe that all their troubles would be over if he just had complete power over their lives. Don’t fall for it.
Hairline fracture, fissure fracture, march fracture, spontaneous fracture, fatigue fracture
Stress fracture of the second metatarsal bone (below the knuckles of the second toe)
“A stress fracture is a fatigue-induced bone fracture caused by repeated stress over time. Instead of resulting from a single severe impact, stress fractures are the result of accumulated injury from repeated submaximal loading, such as running or jumping. Because of this mechanism, stress fractures are common overuse injuries in athletes.
Stress fractures can be described as small cracks in the bone, or hairline fractures. Stress fractures of the foot are sometimes called “march fractures” because of the injury’s prevalence among heavily marching soldiers. Stress fractures most frequently occur in weight-bearing bones of the lower extremities, such as the tibia and fibula (bones of the lower leg), metatarsal and navicular bones (bones of the foot). Less common are stress fractures to the femur, pelvis, and sacrum. Treatment usually consists of rest followed by a gradual return to exercise over a period of months.”
A few weeks ago, I was playing tennis as I regularly do about 3-4 times a week. Also, as usual, my feet really began to hurt after two sets. I find that changing shoes typically helps the situation, so I sat down to change my shoes. It was extremely difficult to get my foot into my shoe — I had to bang it hard to get it in. Finally — success!
So, I was ready to play a third set. But after two points, I realized there was no way I was going to play more tennis. I hobbled home and could barely mount the shallow steps to the front door. It was “Labor Day” so most places were closed. We finally got my painful ankle X-rayed and the doctor who read the X-rays said, “Good news! No new breaks in your ankle.”
That was good news.
Except that so far as I knew, I had never broken my ankle in the past! That brings to seven the total number of broken bones I’ve had.
I was born with flat feet and all my life I’ve had flat feet and pronated ankles. Now, however, things had moved to a new and much worse chapter. I could literally put zero weight on my left leg. Now, I can walk. Which means, I can now play tennis.
How could I have broken an ankle and not have been aware of it? Because of the structural defects in my feet, instead of having an arch that works to distribute the stress of running, jumping, and landing, one of the key bones in my arch has moved downward and toward the midline. So now, every time I land hard, the stress is not distributed evenly through the arch but smashes down into the outside of my ankle bone.
That sucks. And it makes playing tennis iffy. And, it’s painful. And, potentially dangerous.
Not so much as the fracturing of American democracy however.
The Trumputinists have been waging a War on Truth against America for years. They stepped up their game significantly with TFG. Who benefits from the War on Truth?
Not the American citizens!
The man who got TFG Putin office benefits.
America has long been the major thorn in the side of Putin’s ambitions to reconstitute the USSR and possibly even to “rule the world.” It’s a crazy ambition, to my way of thinking. But not to would-be dictators.
I like tennis.
But some folks like stamp collecting. And some like to quilt. And some few like to destroy the love and livelihood of others in order to gain power. (Essays on America: The Game).
About 2400-2500 Americans were killed by the sudden attack on Pearl Harbor. FDR immediately declared war on Japan. That was like a traumatic bone break to a human body.
The Trumputinists, through their campaign of lies, false cures, false promises, and executive orders have driven up the number of deaths of Americans from the pandemic by hundreds of thousands. They have killed more Americans than were killed in 9/11 and Pearl Harbor and the War in Vietnam, and the Middle Eastern wars combined.
In 1860, the South seceded from the Union. Did Lincoln declare war on the South? No. Did he attack the South? No. The South attacked Fort Sumpter. Do you know how many Americans they killed?
Two Union soldiers were killed in an accidental explosion while they were leaving the fort.
Even before the pandemic hit, TFG was rolling back safeguards on the food supply, clean water regulations, and clean air regulations. He was isolating America from our allies.
TFG replaced patriotic, non-partisan experts throughout government with inept lackeys who would do anything to curry favor with the Putin-backed coup.
TFG did everything he could to destroy the careers of any patriotic Republicans who stood up to him.
TFG, millions of dollars in “dark money” and the Trumputinist backers have subverted confidence in elections and passed “laws” that mean that they can simply “overturn” elections when they don’t win. Nonetheless, they have also passed laws to suppress the votes of POC, the elderly, Armed Services personnel, Native Americans, and students. Suppressing the vote, aside from being unfair, guarantees that inept, cruel, and corrupt politicians will be the norm.
The Trumputinists deny that their deadly attack on the United States Capitol was a crime. They claim it was just a regular day of tourism.
Major stress fracture.
America faces serious problems such as the need for immigration reform, wealth inequality, racial injustice, crumbling infrastructure, COVID, cybercrime, social media companies giving in to brutal dictators like Putin, climate disasters. The Trumputinists pretend to want to be part of the solution but actually are doing everything in their power to prevent these crises from being addressed.
As the stress fractures in your body continue to multiply, you will begin to bleed to death internally. And, being unable to move, you will be unable to battle predators of any description.
It’s past time to bring to justice those who are trying to destroy our democracy, even if that makes Putin upset.
It’s important to remember that in the last Presidential election, Republicans and Democrats worked together throughout the country to run the election. Those were actual Republicans — Americans who are typically more conservative than their Democratic colleagues. Those folks are being threatened with physical violence as are their families unless they pledge to be Trumputinists. Of course, the Trumputinist don’t call themselves “Fascists” or “Trumputinists” but so what?
People who stormed the US Capitol; politicians who support the overthrow of democracy; people who threaten violence against actual Republicans who do not support the big lie — they all need to be dealt with legally, but quickly and thoroughly.
One thing we do know from history: trying to placate a cruel ego-maniacal dictator by, say, giving them Poland, does not work. Ask the ghost of Neville Chamberlain.
I honestly cannot think of how the Trumputinists could make it more clear.
They are not playing on team America.
They have already attacked American democratic institutions and stormed America’s Capitol.
They have already killed 1/2 million innocent Americans.
They are still perpetuating the big lie.
They certainly have no business being seated in the Congress of the United States of America.
Many of the Trumputinists have been trained to deny the efficacy of masks, social distancing, and the vaccines.
But many Democrats have been trained to deny the severity of the crisis we are facing. Ignoring the X-rays and pretending it’s all business as usual won’t knit my bones back together.
Ignoring the fact that Trumputinists are fighting an undeclared war on our country will not make us safe any more than shutting our eyes will make us safe from the circling wolf pack or the growing climate crisis or the unsustainable chasm in wealth and opportunity.
Trumputinists killed a half million Americans (and counting) by not addressing the pandemic realistically.
I love walking. According to my parents, I began early at 9 months. I love walking in nature best because it’s almost always the most beautiful. But when I travel, I enjoy walking around wherever I am. In fact, when I have time, I often walk in the airport.
Aside from playing tennis, walking is my chief form of exercise. Recently, I began monitoring my steps and upped my goal.
Often, when I play tennis, I come home and ice my left ankle afterwards. If I don’t, it gets stiff & painful when I finally stand up and take a few steps. After walking around for awhile, it feels better. Sometimes, when I’m playing it helps my feet to change shoes after the first set. That’s what I did on Monday, but I had a lot of trouble getting my left shoe on. I had to really push hard to get my shoe on. Finally. I was ready for more tennis.
Because something didn’t feel right. I retired and walked home (a short distance). To be more accurate, I limped home until I had to hobble home. I could basically put no weight on my left leg at all. We went to one of those 7 days a week clinic but they were closed. Then, my wife drove me to the UCSD Medical Center. They were awesome. An X-Ray showed that I had no (new!) Ankle break. But apparently, I had broken it at some point in the past.
Anyway, I got some crutches and am following the RICE instructions: Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. Luckily the US Open is on TV and I’ve already seen a dozen amazing matches!
I suddenly get an alert on my phone! Oh, who could it be?
It is from a health app! Maybe it’s checking up on my ankle?
No. It just wants me to know that it’s thinking of me and it wants to remind me how important it is to walk! What a great exercise it is!
Isn’t that sweet? Could you imagine visiting a friend who just sprained their ankle and telling them how much fun you had playing tennis or basketball or telling them all the reasons they should walk or that they’re really missing out by not being able to play sports? You don’t say such things! You realize that while, what you’re saying may be true, in the current context, it’s unhelpful and for some, hurtful.
I had to laugh out loud at the ineptitude of the message about walking. Imagine instead of a hopefully temporary injury, I had just lost a leg due to an accident or from diabetes? Suppose I had lived my life in a wheelchair and I got this message?
There’s a reason that sane people don’t walk up to strangers and say something with no preamble that presumes some sort of shared context! But marketeers and advertisers do it all the time! The have pop-up ads, “crucial” and “last chance” emails all the time and send it to millions of people. They blast it to you on TV and radio. Because of whatever is going on in someone’s life, these various messages will always be wildly inappropriate for a small percentage (but a large number) of people.
Even though my mom died more than 20 years ago, I still get many admonitions every year about how she’d really like me to wire her some flowers.
The marketing folks seem to want to have it two ways. On the one hand, they want you to believe that they care about you like a friend might. They care about your family. They keep track of time for you and have helpful reminders about people’s birthdays. They are on your side. But they don’t want to pay for actual sales people to do this. The can’t afford “Personal Shoppers” like Nordstrom’s does. Since everything is just cheaply generated by computer, of course they are often going to be dead wrong in their suggestions, their timing, and their message.
Guess what? They don’t care. Why? Because when they do something inappropriate, we will say to ourselves, “Well, it’s just an algorithm. Of course, it’ll make mistakes.” WIth everything else going on in the world, it’s small potatoes and not worth caring about.
When they chance to hit upon showing us something that is actually appropriate and appealing, we’re likely to buy it.
Meanwhile, I have to wonder what the impact is on our society of emotionally tone deaf and inappropriate messages being spewed out by the billions. Is it possible that part of the reason so many people go crazy in department stores, airports, and even medical facilities insisting on their “rights” to kill other Americans with their germs is that everyone sees inappropriate messages sent by bots? There is no real consequence to the companies who send inappropriate messages and often there is no real consequence to those who scream and threaten violence at school board meetings if their toddlerhood is not automatically catered to.
Is it possible these pandemics of inappropriateness are related? Is it possible that the toxic rhetoric of a hate-mongerer finds resonance in so many partly because they have been bombarded with so many tone deaf messages?
And, when I do hear them, it seems to me it has a definitely different set of connotations. The first statement, “He won her.” Is un-marked. At least for me, I don’t feel I know any more about the person than I did before that statement. But all of the immediate connotations, vague as they are, are positive. He may have won her by a show of strength or competence. Maybe he slew a dragon. Maybe he outwitted all his rivals (notice their implicitly has to be at least one). Maybe he won her by being open and honest or showing how much he cared. It’s all good.
Now, what stories come to my mind when I see, “She won him.” First, to be honest, there is a bit of a double take. Did I read that right? OK, well, sure, that can happen. Probably far more than men realize. What did she do? Did she use deception? And, what about him? Why didn’t he win her? I’m not saying I can’t overcome these connotations.
Notice, I don’t think she did use deception. I don’t have any evidence about that. And there are many other ways to “win” someone. But why does it come to mind? It did not come to mind when I read the first sentence. Yet, I can think of numerous instances where men have used all kinds of deception, not to mention, cruelty, gaslighting, murder, drugs, kidnapping, rape to “win” someone.
It is really an upstream swim not to fall for the bull$hit your culture inculcates into you about age, gender, race, etc.
Do you think there is any practical significance to this?
Let’s consider one recent example. In the “2016” campaign for US President, you may recall that the democrats chose one of the best-qualified candidate in US History on the basis of her intellect, experience, and character. Yet, her opponent, one of the very least qualified in US history on the basis of what he actually accomplished (mainly losing millions of dollars), his character, or his intellect, called her “Crooked Hillary” and it stuck for many people.
You may notice that in the previous paragraph, I put “2016” in scare quotes. Why? Because both sides began the Hilary (or Anti-Hilary) campaign years before 2016. The Republicans realized early on she was their best candidate and attacked her character mercilessly and with zero evidence. Zero. But it worked.
But what if Hillary would have called Donald Trump “Crooked Donald” first? Would that have helped her? No. About 40 % of America, as we now know, would have simply said, “Yeah, so?” They don’t care that he is a tax-evader. They don’t care that he is a pu$$y grabber. They don’t care that he had a fake university or that he defrauded a kid’s cancer charity. They don’t care. It’s what guys do. There’s winners and losers. And a guy’s gotta do what he’s gotta do to win or he’s not really a man. So if he’s stupid, maybe he has to bend a few rules to win. So what. That just makes him street smart. Since he’s a guy, all that is just fine. It’s fine to be a real crook if you’re a guy, but not okay to be untruthfully branded as a crook if you’re a woman.
Gee. That sounds fair.
The thing is this. It isn’t just unfair to Hillary. It was unfair to America. And every time our presumptions trump reality, we all lose. We are all the poorer because we have not made the best decision in accordance with reality but merely comforted ourselves with the lie that we were right all along.
One quarter of the country is prepared to die and have their loved ones die for the sake of what they know or should know to be lies.
But what happens in war?
At least one side, and more typically both sides are willing to die and put their families at risk for what they know or should know to be lies. They don’t typically go into combat for their own benefit! They do it for country. They do it for their religion. They do it to protect their families. They do it in reprisal for some real or imagined actions in the past. But very few would willingly walk into combat hoping to “get more out of it” than they put into it! That would be like running through a rich neighborhood during a heavy lightening storm. Sure, you might be struck by lightening or hit by a falling tree and die or be permanently injured. But — hey! — there’s also a chance you might be able to sue one of these rich suckers and make millions! Yeah. That could happen. But, as I say, that’s not why most people put themselves in harm’s way.
So, to recapitulate, war itself is based, at least partly, on lies.
Are we doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and over and over again?
But consider this:
Suppose there are two teams Purple and Green. These two teams have a competition in something. It doesn’t much matter whether it’s soccer, baseball, debate, ice hockey, figure skating, cheerleading or anything else. What matters is that each side wants to “win.” But it also matters, and more than a little bit, that each side also wants to enjoy themselves. They value other things in addition to winning or losing. Some enjoy the companionship. Some enjoy the challenge. Some enjoy improving. Some enjoy the sunshine. It doesn’t have to be the same value for everyone.
The point is that tennis is not a zero sum game. It’s true that a particular match has one and only one winning team. But there are other benefits. Everyone is a “winner” in the sense of the challenge or the emotional ups & downs or the sheer joy of movement. The score is only one part of the value of the game. The same is true for all sports and for almost all human endeavors in the real world. It is very seldom a zero sum game. We can almost always find some state of affairs as being bad (all out atomic war destroys the entire human species)
Similarly, both the Purple and the Green team want to keep the game going. In most cases, they also want to have cordial social relations with all the other players. So, in the vast majority of cases, people “handle” disagreements about the score, the line calls, etc. within the bounds of civility. Let’s suppose that one person of the four is a narcissistic sociopath who thinks he’s always right and insists he’s always right no matter how egregious his line calls. Eventually, such a person would destroy the game. It wouldn’t take a majority. A single sociopathic teammate could spoil it for everyone. But only if everyone else lets them get away with it.
Have you ever watched an all-out bench-clearing brawl between to baseball teams or two hockey teams? Every time I’ve seen it, it’s really only triggered by one person and accepted by one person. So, two, among those whole teams, are sometimes enough to ignite a kind of “war.” While a brawl isn’t the most pleasant experience I can imagine, it’s even worse among professional athletes. It’s potentially career-ending. For most, it’s a potential financial hit from the world of brand endorsements. There could be legal trouble. For a few, there might be regret. Similarly, guess what? Most people do not benefit from war! It’s so obvious that I hesitate to say it, but it seems as though people do not see it as obvious. A very few people get very very rich. Many people die; many are seriously and permanently injured; many people’s homes are destroyed; families are separated; possessions are destroyed; plans are accomplishments are destroyed; peace of mind is destroyed; forests and wild places are destroyed; innocent animals are destroyed; friendships are destroyed; trust is destroyed…I mean, are you starting to see a pattern here?
War is about destruction. War does not create beauty. War does not feed the hungry. War does not heal the sick. War does not comfort the soul. War benefits the few; never the many.
At the extreme, there is dictatorship which will always be much more incentivized to war than will a democracy. The dictator will use the fact that there’s no free press to whip up hatred against an enemy. Then, he’ll attack (but pretend the other side started it), etc. Now, if attacked, the democracy has little choice but to respond. Encouraging a bully is a losing strategy. Going to war is also losing. War is never about winning. It’s about losing less. And going to war is better than giving in to a bully. If you succumb to the bully, you have no life any more. The bully is a parasite on you; one that you cannot get rid of while he sucks your blood and everyone else’s in the nation. Parasite is just another name for dictator.
In any case, a small number of people can start a war which, in turn, benefits only a small number of people, at most.
That doesn’t seem like a good system to me.
It sounds like “an accident waiting to happen.” And, it has. Over and over and over and over again.
When will we ever learn?
And, while three fourths of America has battled their butts off for over a year and a half — socially distancing, wearing masks, making masks, getting vaccinated, staying healthy — in some cases working heroically — quite literally — heroically to fight the war against COVID. While that’s what’s been happening with about 3/4 of Americans….
One fourth of America has decided to join in the War on COVID — on the side of the virus! They refuse to get vaccinated; refuse to wear a mask; refuse to socially distance. Why? Because they’ve been ordered to by the leaders of a death cult. Make no mistake. This has nothing to do with personal freedom. If it were about personal freedom, there might be as many as seventeen people nationwide who would prefer to be intubated for weeks than to wear a mask for minutes. If it were really about personal freedom, the vast vast majority would choose a few moments of discomfort rather than dying or being permanently disabled. Ironically, most of the cult leaders have been vaccinated, and when they’ve fallen ill, they’ve received expensive top notch care that you or I or the COVIDites will not be likely to receive.
Something there is that doesn’t love a war, not even a war on truth.
“Hey, you guys remember how good air-conditioning felt?” Ted, wiped the copious sweat above his eyes onto the back of his hand. It was immediately replaced by more sweat on his brow.
“Hell, yes,” drawled Mitch. “Thanks for reminding me. You’re a real a-hole, you know?”
“Thanks, Mitch! I appreciate that. It helps me feel cooler when I think of it; that’s all.”
Josh shook his head. “You two quit your jawboning and help me move this stack into the shade. It’ll be cool there.”
Ted snorted. “Not by much. Matt, give us a hand.”
The four walked over to the jumble and grabbed about four or five each and wandered over to the remaining shady corner of the rubble-strewn building that had once been the Doltzville Library. They struggled, but managed to get their bodies onto the painted concrete floor. Mitch struggled the most. Basically, he fell the last foot and a half, lost his balance and spilled his stack into Matt who spilled his stack into Ted who spilled his stack into Josh who spilled his stack onto Mitch’s lap.
“Thanks a lot, you idiot! You dropped your whole frigging stack onto my ball sack!”
“Yeah. Yeah. Like you have one. Let’s get this done so we can get back home for our bourbon ration!” Ted winced and swallowed hard, once again wondering how he had ever ended up with these three dolts sorting books.
He grabbed the closest two tomes and held them up next to each other. It was a tough choice, but the left hand book was definitely a bit more reddish and the one on the right, was a bit more orange. Easy enough choice. He mentally patted himself on the back. But in doing so, he mentally hurt his rotator cuff. He winced but managed to shake off the imagined pain.
Ted picked up two more. Another tough choice. He chewed on his tongue but finally decided the one in his left was more of a pine green while one in his right hand was almost a dark khaki. He glanced around the room. “Hey guys, where the hell is the khaki stack?”
Josh spat on the floor. “Find your own damned stacks, Ted. We have our own work to do.”
Mitch shuffled his stack this way and that way trying to start with the easiest pair. “Screw it,” he muttered under his breath. This is too hard. “Hey guys! Let’s not go too fast. What the hell is that racket?”
The racket grew to an almost deafening roar. Ted covered his ears to try to block out the noise. It didn’t work. Josh squeezed his eyes tight hoping that if he made it dark enough, he wouldn’t notice the noise. That didn’t work. So, he made it even darker by covering his eyes with his hands as well. Still the noise grew in intensity. None of them had heard anything this loud since — since before. It bothered Matt so much he felt nauseated so he quickly used his soiled hands to cover his mouth. Mitch thought it might help to cover up the noise with more noise so he screamed as loud as he could.
At long last, the noise abated. Had any of the four actually served in military combat, they might have recognized the noise for what it was — a helicopter landing on the expansive treeless lawn of the Doltzville Library. Once the noise stopped, they didn’t show the least bit of curiosity about what had caused the ruckus and went back to their book sorting task.
Josh’s brows knitted as he struggled with a particularly difficult distinction between a purplish black cover and another one that was more of a blackish purple. Their deliberations were interrupted as the front door of the library swung open. In marched a platoon of heavily armed guards.
The soldiers formed into two parallel lines and stood at attention. The commanding officer strode down the line and over to where the four sprawled on the floor. “What in the name of all that is holy is this mess? This library isn’t in order at all! You were supposed to have been done organizing the books a week ago.” He glanced around the room. “What the holy hell? The books aren’t even in the stacks. Which one of you — gentlemen — is in charge?”
Ted glanced at Mitch who glanced at Josh who glanced at Matt who glanced at Ted. It constituted a Circle of Jerks. But no-one would claim to be in charge. At last the three younger men pointed at Mitch. As though on cue, they said in unison, “He is!”
The colonel walked over and stood in front of Mitch. He put his strong arms beneath Mitch’s forelegs and jerked him upright. The colonel felt a twinge as he did so but nothing registered on his deadpan. “Well?!” Barked the colonel. “What do you have to say for yourself? I’m not a frigging librarian, but these books don’t look organized to me! They certainly aren’t in the stacks, are they?”
Mitch swallowed hard. All these guns made him nervous. He had always wanted lots of guns in the hands of ill-trained malcontents. But not in the hands of trained soldiers.
Well, he consoled himself that he had lied his way out of worse jams than this, so he began to answer with one of his six distraction patterns. “Well, Sir, our orders were to put the books in stacks and this, as you can clearly see, we have done. There are some edge cases we really need more expertise to settle on. Josh here, for instance is trying to decide on whether this book is more of a purplish black or more of a blackish purple.” Then, he added as an afterthought: “Sir!”
“What exactly do you think all those shelves are for?”
Mitch followed the line of the colonel’s hand. “Shelves? For…knickknacks I suppose. My wife collects knickknacks. I’ll bet yours does too.”
The colonel shook his head and muttered inaudibly. “Those are — never mind. You’re extremely behind schedule, but how are you cataloging them? By Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress?”
Josh’s eyebrows shot up incredulously, “Congress has a library?”
The colonel’s eyes darted back to Josh like the mythical Jewish Space Lasers used to light forest fires. Josh looked down and bit his lip, regretting he had said anything.
Ted spoke up. “Sir, is that a trick question? We organized them as they should be organized. By color.”
“What?!” Screamed the colonel. “By color? What the hell is wrong with you people? They’re supposed to be organized by what the book is about — what’s inside. Good Lord, my four year old grand-daughter knows that!”
“But Sir,” objected Matt. “How do we … what do you mean? What a book’s about? What does that even mean?”
“You read the books, decide what each one is about and categorize it. What’s wrong with you people?” The colonel glared at them each in turn, beginning with Matt and ending with Mitch.
Mitch straighten his shirt against his sagging plastron and frowned. “A reed? Like in a clarinet?”
Matt chewed on his lip, savoring the taste as though he were painfully biting the lip of a teenage girl. “Maybe you mean like a reed that grows by a riverbank?”
The colonel strode over to Josh and snatched the blackish purple book out of his hand. (Or, maybe it was the purplish black one). He snapped the book open to a seemingly random page. “Here! Read! Like this.”
The colonel’s strong baritone rang out as he recited the paragraph.
“What made that an interesting situation to discuss for my intro psych class was that it was never the people who actually had the right of way who did the honking and screaming. It was always (so far as we observed) the people who sailed right through the new — and unseen — stop signs! These stop signs were in plain view.”
The colonel stared. Then, he shook his head. “Look here. Here’s a title.” He jabbed his finger on the title to emphasize his point. He did a neat little toss of the book in the air and flipped it a half turn. Then he pointed to the back. Here’s a description of the author. Here’s a summary of the book. You read these to help you decide what the books about. But in all the time you’ve had, you could have read the books cover to cover. Or at least skimmed them. That’s how you categorize it. Not by the color of the cover. I’ve never heard such a stupid thing in my life. Anyway, get your gear.”
The four stared at the colonel and then at each other. But no-one moved. Not until the colonel shouted, “MOVE!”
The four of them grabbed their gear and scrambled onto the bus. The only seats left were at the back, near the toilet. Which stunk.
Once they were under way, Mitch said, “Read. How ridiculous.”
Matt nodded. “I agree. That’s what we did in college. There’s no need to do that now.”
Josh nodded in agreement. “Yeah. Ridiculous. Think how much work it would be to understand what’s inside a book and organize them by what they’re about. It’s absurd. Putin never told us to read.”
Ted added in hushed tones. “Hey, something is going on. Did you guys see the markings on this bus? No confederate flag. No swastika. Not even a bloated orange deer tick. Just an old style American flag. What’s that about?”
That sat in silence for a time.
Ted couldn’t recall the last time he had ridden a bus. Then, it hit him. He had been in high school. Yes, he had read back then, he remembered. In fact, he admitted to himself, he had actually enjoyed it.
But it was hard. Much harder than simply following orders. He looked over at Mitch and whispered, “Do you think our coup could have failed? Is that what’s going on? Otherwise, why the American flag?”
Mitch seemed to retract his head down into the folds of his high-necked sweatshirt and he pulled the hood over his pate.
After getting no response from his co-conspirator, Ted stared out the window. It rained heavily and the windows fogged ever more during their ever-darkening night ride. He liked the fogged windows. It helped him block out his worries as well as the stench of the over-used toilet. The rumble of the wheels gradually lulled him to sleep.
He awoke to the screech of the wet brakes as they pulled up to their final destination. He stared outside. The monochromatic sodium flood lights lent an air of magic and mystery to the black barbed wire atop the high concrete walls of the maximum security prison outside. Still half-asleep, he wondered idly whether someone had made a wrong turn along the way.
As you might expect, crooks are using the opportunities afforded by the COVID19 pandemic to increase the number and severity of identify thefts in America. Here are a few sites with statistics on the scope of the problem and some practical steps that you can take to help prevent you from becoming the victim of identify theft.
Although statistics are excellent for helping us get a feel for the frequency and scope of a problem, to get a feel for what it means for the individual who is the victim of identify theft, it might help to imagine what goes on in one particular case.
Ted was about to close the best deal of his life. He handed the papers over to his customer — or perhaps it was his father — or older brother — when, as bad luck would have it, the fire alarm went off. Somehow the fire department arrived immediately but instead of hoses, they were spitting on the fire through tiny straws. He began to scream at them for their inefficiency.
Ted wondered How do they know my name?
“TED! Wake up! You’re having a nightmare!”
Groggily, Ted wrinkled up his eyes and stared at someone who looked remarkably like his wife. He thought, You look just like my wife! Just like! Wait. You are my wife. “Darla?” he said aloud. “What is that blasted noise?”
“That blasted noise is the alarm you set for yourself last night. Remember? You set it early so you’d have time to work on your presentation for your ZOOM meeting this afternoon. Turn it off. I’ll go make coffee. I’ll take it to your office.”
Ted flung his hand over to the nice big, easy-to-slap switch atop his BOSE. He swung his still-athletic body back to the left in time to catch a glimpse of his wife’s wonderful frame silhouetted beneath her sheer nightgown. He smiled. “Perhaps…” he muttered, “but no. I have to get going on that damned presentation.”
By the time Ted sat at his home computer with a hot cup of coffee beside him, he was ready to dive in. “Oh, yes. I wanted to check the news for some timely item to use as an intro.” Ted usually talked aloud as he worked. That was one main reason why, after the kids moved out, they had decided to convert both of the rooms the kiddos had to home offices. As Ted waited for the online WSJ to appear, a broken image shard of firefighters blowing spitballs appeared in his mind’s eye. A frown flickered across his face briefly but he ignored it. “What the f-fudge” he muttered at the fact that they to pick this moment to ask him to enter his userid and password. “Crap! I don’t have time for this.” He gritted his teeth and realized there was no way he remembered his password. Of course not. He thought, I never have to enter the damned thing. He shook his head trying to imagine whether it would be faster to look the damned thing up in his notebook, find the file where he kept his passwords or have them send him a new password via email. Now, what the hell did I call that file? Important stuff? I know I didn’t call it passwords. It’s under documents, personal. Or, documents, work? I — oh screw it. I’ll have them send me e-mail. But which e-mail? Is it my gmail or hotmail account?
Ted knew enough about himself to realize that he needed to stay calm and not let trivialities put him in a bad mood. I’ll try one then the other, he thought. “Easy enough, Ted. Just be patient,” he said aloud. And he was patient.
At least he was patient till he discovered he could not log into either account. Maybe I used my work email, he thought. But that didn’t work either.
Darla had always been able to concentrate pretty well at her own work and ignore Ted’s mutterings. At first, this morning was no different. She delved into her work deeply. Eventually, however, she noticed that he was muttering more loudly and angrily than usual. She sighed, got up and walked over to his office door. Without opening it, she asked, “Ted? Is everything okay? Would you like another cup? Maybe some toast? Ted?”
Ted meanwhile, glanced at his coffee cup, no longer steaming beside him. “Darla? Can you come in a moment?”
Darla came in and knew immediately something was wrong. “What’s up, Ted? You haven’t touched your coffee.”
“Can you get on your computer okay?”
“What? Sure. Something wrong with yours?”
Ted considered. “Well. No, I mean, the computer seems to work, but I can’t get into any of my online accounts. Not the Times; not the Journal; not even either of my email accounts. I mean, I can’t even do my remote log-in to my work account. How is that even possible?”
Darla had read about people suddenly becoming pale and she had always thought it was some sort of literary device. But no. She felt herself go pale and cold. “Ted. Have you tried to log on to our online banking?”
Ted sounded annoyed. “What? No. I don’t have time for that crap. I’ve got to get this presentation ready. That’s the whole reason I got up early. I can’t…you don’t think…oh, crap. Let me try.”
Darla moved in close. She placed a gentle hand on Ted’s shoulder as she peered at his keyboard.
She clenched her teeth; pursed her lips. She sighed.
Just then, Ted’s cellphone rang. “Just what I need. Another interruption!” Ted glanced at the screen. No double someone asking for another charity or political contribution or explaining to me how much I want to buy car repair insurance, he thought. But something made him take the call.
Darla’s hearing was still quite good. She heard both sides. One of their credit cards had been compromised. They had agreed to put a stop on it and another one would be mailed forthwith. Ted had no sooner clicked the call off when another came. Their other credit card was also being misused.
The financial loss and inconvenience of identify theft is certainly bad enough. No need to make it worse.
But let’s nonetheless imagine that it is even worse — much worse.
Identity Theft 2.0:
The doorbell rang. In their current state of confusion and anger, the doorbell felt like a painful electrical shock.
Darla spoke gently to Ted. “I’ll get it.”
Ted meanwhile gulped down his cold coffee. He was too upset to bother to walk the twenty steps it would have taken to warm it up in the microwave. He hoped the cold coffee would at least allow him some clarity to get this straightened out. After all, he still had a presentation to prepare.
Darla re-appeared at the door of Ted’s home office a few moments later. “Ted? There’s a guy at the door who claims to be the real you.”
“WHAT? Well, call the police! Don’t let him in! He’s either in on the Identify Theft or he’s a nut case.”
Darla tilted her head. “Keep your voice down, Ted. He can hear you. He’s in the entry way.”
Ted’s eyes widened. “What?! Are you … what are you talking about? You let a stranger into our house?”
Darla said, “Well, he swears that he is the real Ted and that you are just a fraud. He says he will make everything all right. That we’ll be richer than ever if we play along with him.”
Ted craned his head forward and stared at Darla. His mouth moved but no words came out for awhile. “Are you nuts! Who is this guy?”
“You, Ted. At least that’s what he claims. He’s better than you and richer than you. And, says he’s the real you and you’re the fraud.”
“Darla? Is — does he look like me?” Ted was no shaking his head like a grizzly on the horizon, hoping that motion parallax will clarify the fuzzy images.
Darla smiled, “Oh, no. He doesn’t look anything like you really. He’s much older and overweight. And, he has a — you know — hair thingy.”
Ted wondered for a moment if he was in a nightmare. Or having a psychotic break. He glanced into the corner and his eyes alit on his high school baseball bat. He thought perhaps he should have a weapon. Maybe this interloper was armed. But why they hell had Darla let him in? Claims to be me but doesn’t even look like me? WTAF?
“Darla — let me get this straight. Some stranger comes to the door. He doesn’t look anything like me. He obviously is not me. And, yet you let him into the house? And now you’re not sure whether he’s me or I’m me? Are you nuts? Are you having an affair with him? What’s going on?”
“No, Ted. We’re not having an affair yet. But would it really be an affair if — you know — if he’s you? I know he doesn’t look like you. He doesn’t sound much like you either. But he says he’s you and that you are a fraud, so who’s to know really?”
And it’s precisely the kind of Identity that is happening in America right this very minute. Just because someone claims to be the Republican Party doesn’t mean that they are the Republican Party.
And America’s liberals, sadly, are fostering this preposterous lie. A short few months ago, we had a secure, free, fair election in America. That election was not supervised just by Democrats. It was supervised, as always, by Republicans and Democrats working together all across the country. The election was contested by absurd lawsuits thrown out by both Republican and Democratic judges.
A very small, but consistently lying group of people are claiming that they are the “real Republicans” while Democrats and Liberals are saying, “See you can’t trust the Republicans!”
You can’t trust insurrectionists. You can’t trust liars. And one of the things that they lie about is that they are Republicans. They are not. They do not have a platform, or a set of programs, or a philosophy that is consistent with a conservative take on America.
The insurrectionists are nothing more than an extended Crime Family. That’s bad enough. But don’t put wind in their sails by agreeing that these insurrectionist liars constitute the Republican Party. They don’t. Sadly, they’ve screamed the lie so insistently and consistently that many — but by no means all — Republicans now believe that pack of lies. Importantly, most of the Republicans who were actually involved in running the election do not believe in the big lie.
The Big Lie, of course, is a classic technique that dictators use to come to power including dictators of the Communist stripe like Stalin and dictators of the Fascist stripe like Mussolini and Hitler. Don’t fall for the Big Lie. But don’t fall for the Identify Theft either. Most of the people who believe the Big Lie only do so because the Big Lie is claimed by people who claim that they are Republicans. But they are not.
No previous POTUS, Republican or Democrat, made every important decision so that it benefited a foreign dictator. No previous POTUS, Republican or Democrat, actively worked to isolate us from our allies. No previous POTUS, Democrat or Republican, steeped themselves in corruption from stem to stern; from left to right; from top to bottom. No previous POTUS of any party replaced experienced, patriotic experts throughout government with inept lackeys. No previous POTUS, Republican or Democrat, ignored facts in order to promote lies that killed Americans by the hundreds of thousands.
Once upon a time, it is true, some of the Trumputinists were Republicans. But just because they once were does not mean that they legitimately get to keep calling themselves “Republicans.” I was once a teenager. That doesn’t make it true to call myself one now.
They have no Republican platform. They have no Republican philosophy. They have no commitment to American Democracy. They are not Republicans. They merely want to steal the Identity of the Republican Party so that they will have grass roots support from people who have been life-long Republicans.
Don’t support; don’t vote for; don’t send money to Trumputinists out to destroy our democracy simply because they call themselves “Republicans.” The Trumputinists are a Crime Family.
Of course, Identify Theft in the political domain is not new. The dictatorial Stalinist empire was called “The USSR — The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.” It wasn’t really a union at all. None of the constituents were themselves actual republics. And all of them ceded wealth and power to Russia. Similarly mis-named are the names of most dictatorships today which generally contain the word “Republic.” They are not. North Korea goes so far as to call itself a “Democratic Republic.” It’s not a Republic nor does it have more than the thinnest thread of democracy. At least the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia just comes right out and says it: “Kingdom.”
As a matter of fact, the Trumputinists who call themselves the “Republican Party” are lying about both words. Not only are they not Republicans; they are not a Party either!
It isn’t really a “Party” when only one person is invited and everyone else is there to serve that one guest!
Lies in civilization are much like ground glass in an otherwise nutritious, delicious buffet. They are dangerous. They are potentially deadly if undetected. Quantity matters. One piece of undetected ground glass is serious. One hundred pieces means that some people will die. Twenty thousand means everyone who partakes of the buffet will likely die.
If one side lies constantly and one of the things they lie about is saying the other side lies, then, of course, your “loyalty” to your own side may get you to thinking: “Both sides lie equally.” Or, even more sadly, “The other side lies!”
Imagine Rembrandt’s Mona Lisa: a beautiful painting. Now, imagine painting a red stripe one inch wide diagonally through the painting. It’s only a small part of the painting, after all. Maybe 10%. But is the value decreased by only 10%? Of course not.
Ever use a dictionary? How much would you pay for a really good dictionary? How about a dictionary with 1% errors? How about one with 10% errors? How about one with 50% errors? How about one with 100% errors?
Imagine you finally manage to save up enough money to buy your dream house. Location: near highways, shopping, & parks. Style: perfect. Condition: perfect. Except for one small thing.
Living in a society that is perfused with lies is like living in a house situated right next to a sewage plant.
The *only* advantage humans have in their struggle to survive is their ability to cooperate and communicate. A lie diminishes that ability to coordinate. The impact is not just that one lie. It’s the spread of skepticism. It’s the felt need to double and triple check everything.
In a complex society, even a tiny bit of deception can multiply far beyond the immediate effects. That is particularly true if a deception passes through a number of weak points in what could be and should be the world-wide web of wisdom.
For example, an employee at a drug company might be pressured to downplay side effects in a report. He does so. But in a corporate culture of honestly, someone will catch the lie and patiently explain that this is not the way things are done around here. The error will be corrected.
And no-one will die from that lie.
On the other hand, the same employee doing the same act in a company with a sociopathic corporate culture might well have that lie not only propagated but further elaborated. As a result, the drug is over-prescribed and over-used. Millions of dollars, and then, that money is like seed money to buy layers and layers of political protection and press protection. At last billions of dollars flow from the pockets of customers into the pockets of the drug company. And, when I say “the drug company” of course, ultimately it ends up in someone’s pocket. Whose? A little of it goes to workers within the company. A huge amount goes to the top executives. But a huge amount also goes to the major stockholders — people who did nothing to discover or promote the drug, but in some sense provided money to support the company.
Guess what? It might even turn out that the drug’s drawbacks outweigh the benefits. In the short run, that might not diminish profits at all.
Again though, we need to realize that the damage to society is not limited to the effects of this particular drug (though those can in and of themselves be devastating effects). It is experiences like this, for instance, that play into vaccine reluctance. Because some drug companies have done some unethical things, people naturally have some degree of mistrust for *all* drug companies for *all* drugs. Nor is the mistrust that such a scheme produces limited to the drug industry. If people believe corruption is widespread, they may themselves become more tempted to engage in it. Even if they don’t themselves engage in lies, deception, bribery, etc., they will certainly be on the lookout for such schemes. It will be harder to take people at their word.
Putting crushed glass in a buffet injures people and ruins the buffet. And, if it happens often enough, it can turn you off from going to any buffets or any restaurants.
Lying can seem attractive in the short term. But in the long run, it will be found out. It will ruin your individual reputation, but it will also tarnish the reputation of your organization and even, to some extent, your entire industry. Beyond that, lies work to spoil society as a whole.
Imagine that a well-functioning society is something like a well-oiled machine. One part connects to another and things function smoothly. Lies are like pouring sand in the gears. Things will move more slowly. Parts will also wear out more quickly. Add enough sand and the motor will burn out or the machinery may catch fire. Would you put sand in your gas tank? Would you add sand to the oil in your auto? Of course not! Why would you support lies in your company or in your society?
Apart from the societal disintegration that lies promote, if you actively pursue a policy of lies to benefit yourself, you are basically taking a kind of informational poison into your own psyche and eventually it will poison your mind. You’ll become more and more addicted to a strategy of relying on lies rather than relying on doing a good job or learning from your mistakes. When someone asks a perpetual liar a question, they will not be able to simply answer. They will have to calculate who knows what and how easily the lie will be found out and try to recall what lies that they have already told to whom.
Just as more and more of an addictive painkiller must be used to achieve the same level of pain relief, so too, an addicted liar will find that they have to tell more and more lies. The lies may at first be “reasonable” lies. That is, at first, a liar may tell lies that are plausible. Over time, they will have to tell more and more absurd lies. If the liar is a popular figure, his or her fans may echo the lies despite not having any relevant direct knowledge. As the lies become more absurd, the fans echo not only plausible, lies but also echo absurd lies. To those who are not addicted to the lies, fan behavior becomes more and more ridiculous and pathetic.