Rampant hypocrisy

Essays > Psychology

Antar Marc has a look at hypocrisy, an expression that describes much of what can be seen wide-spread in this time of crisis.

Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy is the practice of engaging in the same behaviour or activity for which one criticizes another. In moral psychology, it is the failure to follow one’s own expressed moral rules and principles.

The word hypocrisy comes from the Greek ὑπόκρισις (hypokrisis), which means ‘jealous, play-acting, acting out, cowardice or dissembling’. Alternatively, the word is an amalgam of the Greek prefix hypo-, meaning ‘under’, and the verb krinein, meaning ‘to sift or decide’.

Whereas hypokrisis applied to any sort of public performance (including the art of rhetoric), hypokrites was a technical term for a stage actor and was not considered an appropriate role for a public figure.

Niccolò Machiavelli noted:

“The mass of mankind accept what seems as what is; nay, are often touched more nearly by appearances than by realities.”

Natural selection works by the principle of survival of the fittest, and several researchers have shown that humans evolved to play the game of life in a Machiavellian way. The best way to cultivate a reputation for fairness is to really be fair. But since it is much harder to be fair than to seem fair, and since laziness is built deep into human nature, humans more often choose appearance over reality.

Carl Jung attributed hypocrisy to those who are not aware of the dark or shadow side of their nature. He wrote:

“Every individual needs revolution, inner division, overthrow of the existing order, and renewal, but not by forcing them upon his neighbours under the hypocritical cloak of Christian love or the sense of social responsibility or any of the other beautiful euphemisms for unconscious urges to personal power. “

Humans take a position, look for evidence that supports it, then, if they find some evidence – enough so that the position “makes sense” – they stop thinking altogether (the “makes-sense stopping rule”). And, when pressed to produce real evidence, they tend to seek and interpret “evidence” that confirms what they already believe (the “confirmation bias”).

Moreover, humans tend to think highly of themselves, highlighting strengths and achievements, and overlooking weakness and failures (the “self-serving bias”). When asked to rate themselves on virtues, skills, or other desirable traits (including ethics, intelligence, driving ability, and sexual skills), a large majority say they are above average. Power and privilege magnify the distortion: 94% of college professors think that they do above average work. This effect is weaker in Asian countries and in other cultures which value the group more highly than the self.

Globally it appears obvious that hypocrisy is wide-spread in religious, political and government circles.

Antar Marc

Marc is an artist, coach, lecturer and writer of essays about topics of general interest.

Thanks to Wikipedia

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