[FoRK] Radical Honesty

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Tue Jan 3 00:23:50 PST 2012

On 1/2/12 9:30 PM, J. Andrew Rogers wrote:
> 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.

Thanks for clarifying, good points.  I agree that the original author and the article author are muddling several distinct 
situations into an artificially flat space with an oversimplified rule.  There's a difference between relevance / usefulness 
filtering, honesty for various reasons, and choosing communication and interaction models rather than just blindly repeating the 
local pattern. Filtering should always be done according to the ambient ratio of social / non-social goal seeking at work.  
(Sometimes social BS is called for as an indirect goal.)  And filtering to try to address topics that might be of interest to the 
current audience.  Honesty was the main point of the article I think.  People sensor themselves more than is optimum in many cases, 
by tradition mainly.  People attracted to each other let the moment pass out of various fears / shyness.  People persist in being 
irritating because no one gives them good feedback.  Etc.  Choosing communication models is more subtle, especially for people who 
haven't been a wide variety of areas.  Compare shopping in a neighborhood store in the midwest to a non-name electronics store in 
Times Square.  Go to a bar in DC vs. Texas vs. San Francisco vs. Las Vegas.  The baseline assumptions for interaction, models, 
queues, scripts, and overall attitude differ a lot, even within the US.  In some ways some of these are dishonest.

In what way did the article touch on "everything seems to be relative"?

Social status is actively ignored by some people, at least outside of focus areas.  I took most of what they were saying to be in 
that vein.  Of course the active ignoring of social status seeking can be a kind of social status identification itself

A major point of this "movement" seems to be to confront the reasons that things are socially unacceptable.  Has that 
unacceptability been examined lately by a critical eye?  A whole lot of what was socially unacceptable over the last century and 
before is now illegal or unacceptable intolerance.  Some what was acceptable is now unacceptable, for better mostly but some 
apparently not.  It's fair to, at least occasionally, examine what remains.


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