[FoRK] Radical Honesty

J. Andrew Rogers andrew at jarbox.org
Mon Jan 2 21:30:07 PST 2012

On Jan 2, 2012, at 8:24 PM, Reza B'Far (Oracle) wrote:
> IMHO, even if "dishonesty" is a huge problem, a much bigger problem is narcissism and the fact that everything seems to be relative and OK.  As much as I can't deal with the far right, this gets under my skin to no end on the far left.  "Radical Honesty" (at least the way it's explained in this article) just seems to be yet another departure from civil discourse, another rant on complete relativism, and reinforcement of the "it's all about me... me... me... and myself... and I... "  How about "Humility", "Empathy", "Sympathy", etc.?

I had a similar reaction.

Compare and contrast with Crocker's Rules (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Daniel_Crocker), which works in the opposite direction. Crocker's Rules give other people the right to be bluntly honest with *you* but does not impose any reciprocal costs or obligations. It allows the people around you to opt out of your experiment.

A good reason to apply a filter is to increase the signal-to-noise ratio. Much of the "radical honesty" in the article was standing on a street corner with a bullhorn reading passages from a badly written personal diary. (See also: Stephenie Meyer.)  It apparently gives one license to spam the world with self-indulgent musings whether the world wants to hear it or not. 

There are two reasons people talk about things. One is to actually communicate valuable information; that was not happening here. The other is to signal social status. As a social signaling function, what is being achieved by this flavor of "radical honesty"? Demonstrating your status by implying that you are above the consequences for saying things that most people would find socially unacceptable? That's one way of going about it I suppose.

Brutal honesty is more useful when applied toward broader constructive ends.

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