Running Away from Words

“Don’t call it a failure, call it a learning opportunity.”

“Why are you so negative? Instead of saying they lost, say that they almost won.”

“Instead of saying we can’t do something now, say that we might be able to do it later.”

I don’t consider these cases of being pessimistic vs optimistic. No new information is gained when saying these things one way over the other. So why do we sometimes run away from one version of these statements? I think we should let words describe, as close as possible, the real Simple TruthIn cases we win, let us say we win. And in cases we lose, let us say we lose.

Human language is just a medium for communication. It can be manipulated and misconstrued, to sway yourself and your audience. But truth is stubborn. True things stay, regardless if we believe them to be. That which can be destroyed by the truth should be

Let’s learn to face the truth, and also face the words which describe the truth. Let’s learn to use the truth, and also use the words which describe the truth. If our actions are aligned with winning, our words can just describe that truth. If our actions are not aligned with winning, our wordplay can’t make up for running away from that truth.

Winning with a Line of Retreat

On my path towards Winning, I think it is important to leave a Line of Retreat.

For firefighters entering a burning building, it’s important to make sure they have a path to escape in case the fire spreads too much. For employees preparing in case of a natural disaster or other emergency, it’s important to remember evacuation plans and assembly areas. For poker players seeing a good hand, it’s important to be able to figure out when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. For rationalists trying to find the Truth, it’s important to identify what they believe, why they believe that, and if they should continue to believe that. For us Single Players trying to Win, it’s important to recognize when our thought processes and actions are actually leading us to Lose.

As a matter of self-respect you should try to believe the truth no matter how uncomfortable it is.”

As we build our beliefs about truth up, like laying bricks on other bricks, we must be able to see which beliefs are dependent on other beliefs, and which beliefs are strong enough to form a solid foundation. We shouldn’t overly favor or ignore certain beliefs; each brick should be inspected and evaluated fairly for their truth-iness.

“Be a true coward, and plan out your retreat in detail—visualize every step—preferably before you first come to the battlefield.”

As we build these beliefs up, we must also be ready to trace back and remove these bricks in case we laid them incorrectly. We may believe Y, which depends on belief X. If we later see fault in belief X, then it only makes sense to re-examine belief Y as well.

“You must at least be able to admit to yourself which ideas scare you, and which ideas you are attached to.”

Humans are not wired to be complete rationalists. We have biases and calculation errors. We may have our pet theories and hidden lies. The better we are at not lying to ourselves, the better off we will be at finding and building upon the right beliefs.

“What is true is already so; owning up to it doesn’t make it worse.  You shouldn’t be afraid to just visualize a world you fear.  If that world is already actual, visualizing it won’t make it worse; and if it is not actual, visualizing it will do no harm.”

Winning is the ultimate judge. Whether our theorycrafting or strategizing leads us to approach Winning a certain way, in whatever forum we are trying to Win, the world does not care how much time we devoted or how much sweat we put in. After acting, we will either have Won the way we wanted to Win, or we will have Lost.

While trying to Win, we should also recognize how we might Lose. While walking down our paths towards Victory, we should also be preparing a Line of Retreat.

Lying Under Self-Reflection

When we lie to somebody, for whose sake are we lying? Are we lying for their sake? Or are we lying for our own sake?

More often than not, I’d say we lie to others for our own sake. We lie so that we won’t feel uncomfortable talking about a certain topic. We lie so that we can avoid confronting people. We lie so that we can fit in with a group. We lie so that we can feel better about ourselves.

I think that lying to others for their own sake is really, really, really rare. I can’t say it’s completely impossible. But I think that since it seems more beautiful and justifiable, that people would like to believe that they are lying for the other person’s sake.

We can see examples of the different types of lying in many literary works. For example, a Japanese anime/manga called Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (literally “Your Lie in April”) portrays character relationships which are built upon “white” lies for unselfish reasons. Multiple people are shown as lying for another character’s interest and not (at least not entirely) for their own interest.

Lying to others in this manner feels more wonderful than just lying for selfish reasons. This type of lying speaks of self-sacrifice, of being a hero, of saving another from the burden of that which is lied about. Because of this, it’s easier to see and characterize ourselves as lying for others, rather than for ourselves. It’s easier to digest and easier to explain, both to others if/when they find out, and to ourselves while we continue the lying.

Another way people justify lying is by explaining that they will just delay telling the truth, until it’s easier and more suitable to tell the truth. This stance seems like it could be more defensible in certain conflict situations, but only as long as there is an affirmed decision and execution of telling the truth at a later date. I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to state that when people lie for this excuse, they don’t really have any intention of telling the truth later. It just feels better for liars to think this way, to think that we are delaying telling the truth because it would be too hard for others to hear the truth now. “It’s for their sake that we must lie”, we think, and try to convince ourselves.

But what happens when we lie to ourselves? When we lie to ourselves, for whose sake are we lying?

We commonly can apply different perspectives and persona based on the situation. If we lie to ourselves, one of our selves will be committing the lie, and another (or more) of our selves is in ignorance of the lie. Are we aware of which self is which? What is our reasoning for allowing this? And is this type of lying from one self to other selves even feasible with our current wetware (i.e. human brain)? Or are all of our different selves able to see the lie, and we are just refusing to acknowledge the truth?

Is lying to ourselves as beautiful as Miyazono Kaori lying to Arima Kousei? Is lying to ourselves as justifiable as parents lying to their children?

Lying is a zero-sum transaction. When one party retains certain information, the other party operates in absence of that information. When in a state of lying, one party is maintaining information dominance over the other. The lying party takes a superior position over the receiving party, who must act from an inferior position.

When we lie to others, we are exerting dominance over them. Whether we do this for the best intentions or the worst intentions, this is what we are doing. We lie to others because we want to maintain information dominance over them. This can be done assertively through choice and delivery of lying words, or passively through silence and evasiveness. Regardless of the intention, this is what we are doing when we choose lying over telling the truth.

When thinking as a Single Player, we sometimes find ourselves lying to our selves. This situation also represents a state of information dominance, although this can be even more confusing with a lack of self-awareness. Which of our selves is lying? Who is exerting dominance over who? It’s easier to recognize when we are lying to others. It’s harder to recognize when we lie to ourselves.

It’s not impossible, but I would say that recognizing when we are lying to ourselves requires a high level of self-reflection. We have to condition a habit of looking at our own thoughts and beliefs, without flinching, and identifying which ideas fit and which ideas don’t fit.

There are probably also cases where we cannot even recognize when we are lying under self-reflection. In these cases, we probably have lied to ourselves so much that even the lying self has become unaware that it is lying. This type of habit is dangerous, and one that I do not want to find myself falling into

I think that if we recognize that we find ourselves lying to others frequently, then this is an indicator that we are probably also lying to ourselves. Not lying to others does not necessarily mean that we are not lying to ourselves, but I think the habit of lying first starts from within ourselves and then propagates to others.

There is only one rhythm to Truth; Lies are chaotic and can take on any other form. The faster that we learn to find the Truth within ourselves as Single Players, the faster that we will learn to face the Truth together.