To communicate, we often must ignore the truth or falsity of a statement, our own or someone else’s.
I believe it is an instinct to do this; that it is part of our instinct to communicate at all. Communication requires cooperation, an agreement to be agreeable enough to get the message through.
We might call ignoring truth or falsity in communication “truth elision” or “psychological elision.” Elision means to omit something. Psychological elision would mean omitting or not mentioning psychological truths.
We do a lot of truth elision to save time. In professional or group settings it is hard to communicate any other way because there is not enough time to be perfectly truthful and most people will not care. They just want to socialize and/or get the job done, not search for truth.
Most communication is like that. Most messages are not even superficially analyzed. Semiotics glide through our minds without any thought to their deep origins or interpretations. Truth and falsity are frequently elided.
Like all instincts, our instinct to cooperate by ignoring the truth or falsity of many statements can be misused to consciously deceive.
Indeed, we frequently deceive even ourselves by accepting our own statements as true when analysis would show they are not. One way we succeed in doing this to ourselves is by simply avoiding the analysis—analysis elision.
This is where a simple instinct starts to go bad. A basic need to cooperate on the signs and symbols of communication gets twisted into tricking people, deceiving them, even deceiving ourselves.
The way to see this most clearly and to stop doing it with at least one other person is FIML practice. One of my main goals for this website is to show how and why communication goes bad and how and why it harms us. At the same time, I present a practical way to fix the problem described—FIML.
first posted 12/05/18
Note 10/10/19: I think the above sheds light on false confessions and pretty much all self-abnegating lying on the spectrum trending down from a false confession with legal consequences.
Abusers work these ill-defined and difficult to grasp areas to dominate, entrap, and manipulate others. Narcissists and other “strong” or “clever” dark personality types use our fundamental willingness to cooperate against us.
Gas lighting greatly relies on people’s willingness to ignore truths and accept falsities about themselves. If there is more than one gas lighter at work, victims may even accept blame for things they know with certainty are not true.
As with so much in this world, immoral people put time and energy into fooling those who have not put time or energy into the dark arts.
Buddhists all know about wise compassion. We also need wise understanding of the world and wise cautiousness about the full scope of human motivations.
Our tendencies to go along with falsity can be seen in every part of life, from small corners of our own lives to the great expanses of entire societies.