A basic requirement for clear thinking – 5

March 15, 2011 at 6:16 am Leave a comment

Continued from “A basic requirement for clear thinking” – 4


Professions that call for

some deviousness


Excerpts from his book “How to avoid Armageddon”

Available through Amazon

Click: www.amazon.com  and type: how to avoid armageddon

Some professions are geared for arguing. Insurance executives find themselves frequently arguing with policy-bearers who feel that their claims have been inappropriately honored. Lawyers are paid a lot of money to argue with other lawyers about rights and wrongs of their clients’ claims and counter-claims. Politicians spend a great part of their time arguing about government procedures, budgets, personalities and party platforms. Most argumentation in these professions is all about winning. There has to be a loser. This new way of dealing with controversy that we propose might not be relevant in many situations. The trial lawyer, adopting this method would likely lose his livelihood. The politician in the world of cut-throat politics would have to be monumentally brilliant in order to get anywhere. But possibly in the future when truthfulness becomes a paramount value in life, then all professions will also abide by the groundrules suggested here.

Till now, shrewd trial lawyers enable dangerous criminals and outrageous shysters to keep avoiding punishment by twisting of the truth or finding legal loopholes. These same ploys help big business evade responsibility for damage to the environment, harm to public health or unfulfilled commitments. Unscrupulous lawyers sometimes cause innocent people to lose money or even go to jail because the name of the game in our lawcourts is winning at all costs. The law might be upheld, but justice is all too often perverted.

Imagine how much more justice there would be in the world if the function of legal counselors was not to win legal battles against each other, but to ensure that their clients would not have their rights or assets compromised by erroneous court procedures or unwarranted litigation –  in the same way that two consulting engineers or experts in any field, employed by two different companies, working on a joint project, pool their knowledge and experience and come up with the best possible solutions. In the future when truthfulness will hopefully be the modus vivendi and finding the truth at all costs the ideal, lawyers representing clients would work together to find the most honorable solution to their dissension. In this way the job of legal counsel for a crime syndicate boss, for instance, would be to ensure that his client gets a fair trial and nothing more or less, while a lawyer representing a client suing for damages for malpractise or some other infringement, would work to obtain fair, equitable reparations for his client – nothing more or less.

Obviously, this situation would be laughable in today’s cynical, topsy-turvy world, where some lawyers earn millions of dollars to defend the scum of the earth, knowing or not caring whether they are guilty of heinous crimes, and often succeed in having them acquitted, thus enabling them to continue their criminal activities. New laws need to be made that would eradicate the legal loopholes through which scoundrels evade conviction, while a new set of ethics needs to be imposed on lawyers – parallel to a hippocratic code in medicine – which would require absolute dedication to justice through fairness, truthfulness and an end to venality.

This call for a review of professional criteria for lawyers is not a far-fetched as it might seem. Given the urgent need for universal practise of truthfulness in order to deal adequately with the serious global challenges all humanity faces, the entire legal community everywhere will also adapt eventually.

*    *    *

Clearly, correct information is the basis of all cogent thought. There are different ways that our minds accept information. First, we should consider whether it is true, false or whether we can’t decide. Then we can simply take the information as a snippet of news, knowledge or gossip to savor or to use in a future conversation with someone else. Or we can use that information to substantiate an opinion or strengthen a belief. We can use that information to improve something in our homes or as a basis for a professional decision or a value judgment. A value judgment can also be realizing that we can’t come to a conclusion about something. And depending on circumstances the conclusion can lead us to make decisions regarding any action or refusal to act. While it is most important that the information that we use to make any decision be as accurately tuned to the truth as possible, we have to bear in mind that it is unlikely to know the whole truth about every question or problem that we need to contend with. To a certain extent we need to use our discretion when faced with imponderable factors. The question does it make sense often presents the answer. But when we ask ourselves this question, we have to be alert to our own tendencies to wishful thinking and prejudice.

We can use a scale to gauge the perception upon which we base our premises: (a) absolute conviction based on expert consideration or empiric knowledge, (b) probability (c) possibility (d) unsubstantiated wishful thinking, (e) complete ignorance. Being sure of the facts should help us make our decisions correctly. But all too often we cannot be absolutely sure. Assuming that something is probable or possible can often help us make the right decisions. In our earlier story about two neighbors with yellowing lawns, neither had definite solutions in the beginning. Maurice asked for professional help and followed the advice. At that point he could have reckoned that it was possible that he had found a remedy. As the condition of the lawn improved, he could reckon that he had received a probable solution. After his neighbor was able to see for himself that the remedy that Morris used had worked, he should have concluded that here was a definite or at least probable solution. But instead he continued to reject what had become obvious until it was too late.

Life is full of choices that depend on information that is definite, probable, possible, unavailable or false. In our value judgements we need to navigate between this scale of  parameters. When confusing this scale, we can make wrong decisions. When ignoring them altogether as in the case of Maurice’s neighbor, he was actually lying to himself. Therefore the result was complete failure, and that’s a form of cosmic justice, which determines that pandering to falsehood leads to unfortunate consequences.

This same principle of personal honesty applies to every aspect of our lives. If the owner of a shoe store, for example, does not assess the business climate and fashion trends honestly, engaging in wishful thinking or misplaced conceit about his own capabilities, he might soon find himself facing bankruptcy. That is not to say that he must adopt a defeatist approach or discard the blessings of positive thinking. He must just try to be as truthful as possible regarding all the factors that are relevant to his personal abilities, financial situation, customer trends and general business climate. It’s really a matter of common sense, which so often is banished through wishful thinking, laziness, gullibility or any of the other factors that can lead to false and mistaken impressions.

*    *    *

Thinking clearly and making the right decisions on an individual or collective basis, is ultimately all about perspective. We can have all the true facts that might be needed to decide on something. But if our perspective is obscured or distorted by wishful thinking, a rigid belief system, bias, or fawning sycophancy of some person or cause, we will probably make decisions with unfortunate or even tragic results.

*    *    *

The importance of the above-mentioned principles cannot be emphasized enough when dealing with higher level management of large companies, conglomerates and at all government levels all the way to the land’s highest executive.

The trouble at these loftier levels is that among the more ambitious souls, there is a ceaseless struggle for advancement up the ladder to the top – and to stay there – which apart from hard work, raw talent and experience, also usually demands involvement in the politics of whatever organization one belongs to. Political activity usually includes currying favor with upper echelons as well as the minions. That means not always speaking your mind, not always keeping promises, hiding certain compromising facts and sometimes even indulging in hypocritical statements. This implies a certain measure of untruthfulness – and to a large extent that is the trouble with all government – whether in democracies or in autocratic regimes. All too often, it is untruthfulness that drives and nurtures leadership. In autocracies, the dishonesty is even more trenchant.

To order “How to avoid Armageddon”  click: www.amazon.com  type: how to avoid Armageddon


Entry filed under: Blogroll, dangeous lies and halftruths, How to avoid Armageddon, Things not mentioned in the press. Tags: , , , , , , .

A basic requirement for clear thinking – 4 Leadership needed to avoid Doomsday

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