This is a thought I had today and I don’t want to lose it. I know it connects to some Psych/Neuro literature, but too tired. This is about lies, jokes, and what I think they might have in common.
Lies: In life and, yes, work I’ll sometimes white lie what the person wants to hear. I’ll say that I’ve done something I haven’t, or that I didn’t do something, or that I know nothing about that. For example, last year I knew I lost a semi-important TPS report, but when asked I simply said I did not remember. That was a lie. Why did I do that?
Jokes: I’ll often say the stupidest thing that comes to mind as a joke. For example, in response to the 100-meter law I said that we should all wear scuba gear and move to the mountains. I didn’t mean it. That was me lying about my opinion, but it crossed a certain threshold and it’s considered a joke. What is the threshold?
I was thinking that these two similar phenomenon could be explained in one framework, or at least I had that idea made sense in a heat induced daze somewhere in Matara. The framework is not objective truth. I don’t think that I, or any human, has any particular attachement to ‘truth’ because it’s so damn hard to get ahold of. I simply don’t know the truth about almost anything, so it can’t have that much to do with my behavior. I do know my illusion. I use the word in the Buddhist sense, but I think in Psych you could say Perception.
Basically I have my own little world in my head which is 99% bullshit. For example, I’m typing on a Laptop. I believe that this works using a motherboard and electronics, but I’ve never opened it. It could be minature hamsters for all I know. That part of my world is very real to me, but it’s all in my head at the end of the day. I also think that I have a character which is constant across situations.
The framework is that I will preserve my illusion at all costs. The crucial thing is that I have no particular interest in truth, as such. It doesn’t matter whether I saw the document or not, I believed that I was not an employee who lost things, so in that frame of mind what I was saying wasn’t a ‘lie’ at all. My illusion didn’t lose that TPS Report, that would be a square peg in a round hole. Lies fit nicely into that framework because it’s a case of preserving Illusion at the expense of Truth.
Illusion is also a social thing in that some things are in a bunch of people’s heads at once. For example, my name. I call myself Indi, but my parents don’t. In fact, there is no legal documentation of that name. It’s just a consensual hallucination between me and friends. Even my legal name is just a consensual hallucination that’s written down. There is no Indrajit or Samarajiva in my DNA, and even that has to be interpreted by some hallucinating person. I think this is kinda where laughter fits in.
If you tell a joke the laughter acknowledges the boundaries of your shared illusion. When I say that we should wear scuba gear it’s ‘funny’ because that’s something we would never do. I wear glasses on my head, but scuba gear simply doesn’t fit in this culture. I’m lying, but it’s a shared lie. If you laugh then you’re in on the joke. I think it’s adaptive cause laughter teaches us the rules of our culture, and the boundaries of our social world. Fart jokes or stories fit too, because while being true, they are still over that line where we can acknowledge that they do not belong in our Illusion.
Lies are therefore bad not in the sense that they’re not true, but in the sense that they’re anti-social. Nobody actually knows anything about truth, cause we’re knee deep in symbolism and illusion. We do know Illusion, and when that is challenged then it hurts us. Not because the truth hurts, but because the anti-social behavior hurts.
This prolly only makes sense to me, but the basic thing I’m trying to remember is that Psychology isn’t about Truth, it’s about Illusion. Truth is for God, and Illusion is for humans