Why Lying is Irrational

Many years ago I decided to become 100% happy. This took some thinking to figure out, and I needed to use logic to determine how to achieve my goal. One of the key branches of this logic is that lying and happiness cannot mix.

To be clear, one can get a thrill or a joy out of lying, but this is very different from happiness. Happiness is a state of being that is independent of external factors. It is long term. Thrills and joys are short term and circumstantial.

It is also important to note that by “lying” I mean any lie greater than a “white lie.” I am not concerned with you telling your host that you like the food that they’re serving while you’re sneakily feeding it to their dog.

When one lies, there are two intrinsic consequences. First, there is a feeling of associated guilt, which some people can overcome more easily than others. Second, a new storyline is born that the liar must abide by if he or she is to maintain said lie.

This storyline requires effort to successfully maintain, and this effort entails worry. A liar may be lucky and never be questioned again, or he or she may not be so lucky. It is impossible to know. But what is certain is that the longer a lie remains active for, the harder it is to maintain, and the more effort and worry will be needed to maintain it.

Worry and happiness are incompatible, and the effort in maintaining a lie comes at the expense of effort that could be used towards another endeavor which could make the would-be liar happier.

If one wants to be happy, it is therefore irrational to lie.

On Morality

My mother is an amazing woman. While I was a youth, she imbued in me certain paradigms of her morality; everyone should be treated with respect and kindness and all suffering is bad and should be abolished. I emerged from childhood with a very acute sense of empathy, which to this day prevents me from knowingly doing any lasting harm to anybody. I would like nothing more than for everyone to be safe and happy. Yes, I do hate killing insects – not because they scare me (which they may or may not) – but because I feel bad for them. Obviously I’ve been taking this thought process to the extreme. Living my life like this has been draining mentally, but rewarding; it has allowed me to be thoroughly at peace with myself. The ethical pillar of my existence. Solid, immovable. Sounds comforting, doesn’t it? And yet it is the perilous nature of life that our perspective is ever-expanding. The pillar that once could easily support my moral ceiling has seen load after load added to it. Usually, whenever a crack appears, it’s easy enough to patch up. Just add some mortar and pretend that it never happened. However recently my patchwork masonry stopped being effective; another load was added, and the pillar finally began to crumble.

This “tipping point” load came from a recent biology class. We were exploring natural selection, more specifically how all living things evolve to take advantage of their environment. How does this work? The creatures with weaker attributes die, and those which are best suited to their environment survive. While the mantra “survival of the fittest” is a common one, it’s not one that I often abide by. Instead of taking full advantage of a particular situation, I routinely allow others to “win” at things, since I enjoy other people’s happiness. For example I won’t try my hardest when playing sports, or I’ll let other people decide which activity we’re going to participate in. This is already a basic example of how my mentality is removed from natural selection’s aims. Yet the point of the biology lecture that stuck with me was called “trophic cascade”: “an ecological phenomenon triggered by the addition or removal of top predators and involving reciprocal changes in the relative populations of predator and prey through a food chain, which often results in dramatic changes in ecosystem structure and nutrient cycling (Encyclopædia Britannica)”. For example, humans would never have been able to thrive if dinosaurs hadn’t been wiped out. *Crack* If the death of one species means that another can flourish, then why should I care if the blue whale becomes extinct? That would allow another species to fill in the blue whale’s spot in the food chain. *Snap* Why do I waste my brainpower by feeling sorry for killing a spider if by killing it I’ll save a bunch of insects? *Crumble* Why do I feel bad for taking advantage of people when my species came into dominance by being the best at taking advantage of any given situation? *Shatter* Why should I care about faceless people dying, when their death gives opportunity to other humans? To answer these questions, it’s due to the way my mother raised me.

Clearly my thinking is far from efficient, and no where near optimized for survival as seen in nature. Indeed, there’s always been a negative connotation with being a so-called “good” or “nice” person. Nice people are soft. Nice guys don’t get girls. Nice people can’t get anything done. So was I screwed over? Despite her best intentions, did my mother raise me to be weak? Maybe. But she also raised me to be enlightened. Try as I might, I cannot completely abandon myself to a more “primal” way of thinking. It’s our capacity for moral action, amongst other things, which separates us from animals. And it’s my high ethical standards which distinguishes me from my peers. I’ve definitely been considered “soft” when I was younger. But this is no longer the case. I’ve learned to balance my empathy with more “aggressive” thinking. Doesn’t this make me less “enlightened”? I don’t believe so, for my thinking is thus. The only two objectives of life which I can discern is the primal goal to advance humanity, and the enlightened goal of enjoying oneself. Being completely nice and empathetic, while evoking enlightenment and Jesus, does nothing to advance humanity, and can greatly lessen one’s enjoyment of life. Therefore I embrace my mother’s gift to me, without abandoning myself to it. I try and force myself to become more calloused when my enjoyment of life is hampered.

My answers to the previous situations become thus: I should care about species which are endangered because of humans, since we’re creating environmental pressures too rapidly for evolution to properly restore balance, and we’ll regret it if we ever find a way to live in harmony with nature. I should care about all life, simply because life is awesome. Worrying about killing insects is a waste of time, since they have a very low brain capacity. I’m glad that I don’t automatically take advantage of people. It places me higher on the evolutionary scale. However I do want to make more efforts to “go for mine”, since most people seem to think that way, and I can’t wholly base my happiness on the enjoyment of others. Feeling sorry for those faceless people who have passed on is useless, but it’s also a reminder that I’m a human and that I can empathize.

I’ve spent my life convincing myself that I’m a perfect altruistic being who wants nothing but the best for everybody. Yet this is just a sham – an ideal I created which I simply cannot live up to. However every pillar needs a solid foundation, and I couldn’t be happier with mine. For while morals might be technically useless on the individual level, writing this has helped me realize that they’re necessary on the societal scale. Our morality is the keystone piece of our evolution – a tool designed not to take advantage of isolated situations, but to help us reap the benefits of society. The pillar still holds.

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1669736/trophic-cascade

PIllar Two

I had my share of fears as a child. This was due to the relationship between two occurrences: one, my mother imbued me with an incredible amount of empathy, and two, I was introduced to scary movies and literature. My poor young mind. If I saw a movie where someone got poisoned, I’d think “this could happen to me!”. This would happen with all types of murder, robbery, poisonous insects, and the like. At first my only defense against these imaginary foes was to be the imaginary hero, just like in the movies and books. I was constantly on my guard, checking behind me for people sneaking up on me, always looking and the ceiling and floor for insects or other hidden enemies which could be lying in wait. I’d lie in bed, trying be on guard as I fell asleep in case anyone would break in through my window. I even passed through many phases when I couldn’t drink anything before my mom had taste-tested it for me from the same glass which I was to drink out of (sorry mom I totally valued your life too).

If that sounds bad, it was far from the worst. I actually spent many years fighting mental spies. This generally occurred in the bath or the shower, when my mind had the most time to wander. It actually happened every single day when I’d wash my hair in the bath for a span of about 2-3 years. I’d play the same game. There were evil people who could hear my thoughts, and if they correctly guessed when I’d do things, I’d die. Every day I had to trick them as to the exact moment when I’d put shampoo in my hair, the moment when I’d stop rubbing. I’d make them think I stopped, and then rub once more. Sometimes I’d have to hide my thoughts from them; essentially I’d try and not think about what I was doing. Every once and a while I’d trick them by telling them exactly what I was going to do. It was madness. I knew it was. I knew it was the dumbest thing ever as I was doing it. This isn’t to say that I was terrified of washing my hair. I knew that if I was diligent I would win every time, because I was of course the best and smartest at everything. As I got older, I started to tell the evil people in my head exactly what I’d do every day to prove to myself that nothing would happen and they didn’t exist. More on that later.

As I was exposed to more and more media, I read and saw many sci-fi works, including The Matrix, and stories where aliens were the ancient gods, and where wormholes and alternate dimensions existed, like Star Trek. One particular movie which struck me was one which we watched during one of the joke days at the end of a year (probably grade 9) in High School, “The Truman Show”, which was about a man who gradually finds out that his life is a reality show. Unfortunately, the other kids hated it so much that we switched to another movie, and I never saw the end, but the movie marked me. Every time I came across one of these stories, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “why couldn’t this be true? Why couldn’t it be real?” And indeed to this day I can find no reason why we could not be living in the matrix, or my life couldn’t be a TV show. My paranoid mind of course got me thinking of other crazy ideas. Why couldn’t I be the only real person? Why couldn’t I be some lab rat and there were aliens testing my every reaction? I could write a blog just on my the ideas which I seriously considered, in-depth. I again grew paranoid – I didn’t want to be tricked about my existence! I imagined everyone in on the truth of life except for me, all laughing at me. I realized almost immediately that I knew NOTHING for a fact. It took me slightly longer to realize that there’s no point worrying about that. I’m limited by the senses and the knowledge given to me. It’s impossible for me to see or know anything beyond that. And even if it is possible, like in The Truman Show, looking for it and thinking about it would just ruin the enjoyment of the life that I have. And since these other possibilities of life are SO much less likely than the once which I can actually touch and feel and experience, I might as well accept it, and not worry myself with anything else. Of course this is impossible for me to do completely, and I often still think along this train of thought. But never seriously or for too long.

Then one day someone introduced to me the famous saying “I think therefore I am”. While I paid little attention to who said it or why, I decided immediately that It made perfect sense. I could not imagine a way in which I could think without existing, but I could imagine a way for everything else to be false, if I stretched my mind enough. But at the same time, I was sick of worrying about such things, and so my next theory of life was finalized: “Anything is possible. All I know for a fact is that I exist, but there’s no point worrying about that, because honestly, thats quite useless and dumb.” I have since used this theory/reprimand to yank my paranoia out of my skull. It is possible that there’s poison in my glass. For someone to kill me would be both so easy for them and so unlikely to occur that the only thing worrying about it could accomplish is to ruin my enjoyment of life. Yes I could be on some alien TV show, yes there could be people spying on my thoughts, but why bother? There’s no embarrassment living and enjoying life through the limited senses with which I was given.

It was two years ago when I finally came across Rene Descartes famous text in a class. I remember being completely shocked that someone else thought in the same way as me! I saw myself clearly in his reasoning for “I think, therefore I am”. However not all is similar. I reject his proof that God exists, since unfortunately Descartes had no concept of evolution. Nor do I agree that certain shapes, even triangles must exist, even in concept. I could imagine that my mind is so sick and uncoordinated that I could even misjudge the fact that all angles of a triangle must equal 180 degrees. I still greatly respect him and his ideas, however.

I feel as if what I have written makes me seem crazy, akin perhaps to some conspiracist or something. And yet it is these very thoughts which keep me sane, and give me the veil of normalcy. Anyways, what does normal even mean? Is it a state of being? Or more a collection of behaviors and ideas which people aren’t afraid to exhibit? Maybe everyone thinks like me, and just doesn’t share it. I cannot know, I do not know your minds like you now know mine. For you to decide.

http://www.publicbookshelf.com/public_html/Outline_of_Great_Books_Volume_I/ithinkth_bga.html

http://public.wsu.edu/~wldciv/world_civ_reader/world_civ_reader_2/descartes.html

Pillar One

Since as long as I can remember, from early childhood, I was always full of thoughts and questions to which my parents had no answer. The earliest example I can remember is one day (by my best guess I must have been 6 or 7) I asked my dad if he realized that every single tiny thing that we did, every single second changed the future forever. I remember following him around the house explaining my theory, most notably at the front entrance of our home when he let out some signal of incomprehension. My arguments went something like this (warning: this is VERY train of thought and is merely to provide insight, if you wish you may skip the following paragraph as I will restate it in more concise terms after):

“Every second, every little thing that changes, changes everything for ever! Like, for example, if you kill someone, no even an ant! If you step on an ant, that ant will no longer do what it was going to do next. Then all the other ants and all the other things won’t react to that ant. Maybe it won’t eat a blade of blade of grass, and another ant will 30 minutes later, and because of that a predator will see that ant and eat it, and it wont go looking for another ant, which means it’ll be home instead of being exposed to one of it’s predators, and so that predator will have to eat something else, which means that the person who would’ve seen it eat it’s meal didn’t… and then… crap what does that matter. WAIT, it works with thoughts too! Then the person who didn’t see the second predator devour its meal would have something different passing through his/her mind than if it did, and instead he might see another animal do something and say something to a friend, and those words might give the friend a revelation, and this friend might decide to be nicer to someone, or perhaps come up with some invention… don’t you see dad? Ever gust of wind, every single thought we have… like that thought! And that one! and everything that’s going through your mind right now will change the world forever!!”

Now I’m very sorry if you actually read all that, but I felt it important to present to you the way in which I first thought up this theory, even though I’m sure I slightly changed it to make a little more sense than my young mind could at the time. Now days I’d just say:

“Every single change in the world, down to every thought and every gust of wind, imparts miniscule changes that will in turn snowball and change the world forever.”

Of course you might well be thinking to yourself… “but thats just the butterfly effect!”. Well yes, yes it is. I was quite dismayed when I found out many years later (not that long ago actually) that my unique theory was in fact a well enough known postulation – there was even a Family Guy TV episode concerning it! (Back to the Pilot) This theory, of course, makes backwards time travel so ridiculous that it should never be attempted – I cringe and disapprove every time I see a tv show or movie with time travel in it. The only way in which I can see my theory being wrong is if, as some people think, our fates are predetermined. I would like to think however that there is absolutely no proof for this to be the case.

So how does this theory factor into my life? At first it consumed me – I’d think about it constantly and go through tons of sequences like the one I wrote above. I’d try to disprove it using what Albert Einstein would call “thought experiments”. It of course didn’t take me long to get weary of thinking like this. I soon came to the realization that this type of thinking, while technically correct, was both stupid and useless – a HUGE waste of time. Unfortunately, however, I cannot stop thinking in this manner to this day, although it is a lot less frequent. Every time I begin thinking in this manner, I must always remind myself “Ok Sam, you know where this goes already, you’ve already thought of this. It’s useless and stupid to think about it any more”.

Yet while the means may be ridiculous and stupid, it is the end which I’ve gleaned from it which helps me through everyday life. Because all that this means is that it’s impossible for anyone to tell what the future will bring, and what impact one’s decision will have. If I didn’t come to this conclusion, can you imagine the constant terror I would be in? Every single moment I would worry about what’s going through my mind, if I made the right decision – in fact I would probably be too terrified to decide anything! So in this sense no decisions actually really matter. 9/11 might have prevented the end of the world. Forgetting your son’s birthday might somehow save his life. So I can take some comfort whenever anything bad occurs. What DOES matter is the way in which we and other people perceive our decisions. And how this affects our happiness. Therefore I believe that I must make decisions as I see fit at the time – a decision is not right or wrong because of it’s impact, but because of the way I will feel about it, and by extension the way others perceive me because of it. In this manner I can simply try and make the right decision, and yet not worry too much about it’s impact.

To my friends: YES this is why I’m so indecisive about planning things sometimes! I feel like there’s too many variables and so if they all seem to have similar fun levels, I figure why decide when someone else who holds more importance on decisions can decide?

The Pillars of my Existence

It is of course during our childhood that we lay the foundation for who we shall become. The challenges we face and how we overcome them become the pillars of who we are as individuals. Throughout my life, there a few such pillars which are so intertwined into my being that I think about them every day, no matter how useless such an endeavor is. Throughout these texts I shall expose myself completely, in the hopes that some of you reading might see yourselves in my work.