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July 19, 2018 Intellectual Dishonesty

One of the key tenants is not to lie or bear false witness

But there is a form of lying that most people overlook, don’t acknowledge or give a pass to and this is what makes it so dangerous

It is called intellectual dishonesty

We each have beliefs that we hold, either religious or non-religious, that we consider to be true. 

And it is scary to think that we have understandings and belief that may not be true.

So rather than try to understand these fallacies that we may believe we ignore them.

A description of a submitter should be truth-seeker, a person who loves the truth irrespective where it takes us.

[43:78] "We have given you the truth, but most of you hate the truth."

We all consider ourselves virtuous. We think that we would be on the side of righteousness.

We try to avoid the disconnect we would feel to think that some of our beliefs may not be true.

Don’t believe everything you think.

My favorite definition of Truth is that which does not change.

If we think we have the truth then that means there is no evidence that will change our belief

But as Submitters we are constantly learning and evolving our beliefs. Foundationally our belief in God, in the last Day and leading a righteous life should never change, but as we learn our understanding continues to evolve and progress.

But the only way that is going to happen is by being receptive to different points of views.

Most people, when presented with differing points of views, will become immediately defensive.

They see a different point of view as an attack on themselves

[8:8] For He has decreed that the truth shall prevail, and the falsehood shall vanish, in spite of the evildoers.

[17:81] Proclaim, "The truth has prevailed, and falsehood has vanished; falsehood will inevitably vanish.”

If our beliefs are true they will stand on their own

The truth doesn’t need us to exagerate, to fabricate or morph the other side argument to make it seem more appealing

It is tempting to demonize the other side before you assess the validity of their argument

Often times people believe that “My side is right the other side are terrible human beings”

Or they cannot perceive how a decent human being can have a different opinion than they do 

They think that anyone who disagrees with me is an idiot = they can’t be right and they must be stopped 

We need to separate the beliefs we hold from ourselves

This form of tribalism will not draw us any closer to God.

You Shall Not Bear False Witness

[4:135] O you who believe, you shall be absolutely equitable, and observe GOD, when you serve as witnesses, even against yourselves, or your parents, or your relatives. Whether the accused is rich or poor, GOD takes care of both. Therefore, do not be biased by your personal wishes. If you deviate or disregard (this commandment), then GOD is fully Cognizant of everything you do.

In the Quran God tells us:

How to Spread God's Message

[16:125] You shall invite to the path of your Lord with wisdom and kind enlightenment, and debate with them in the best possible manner. Your Lord knows best who has strayed from His path, and He knows best who are the guided ones.

It is tempting when debating with others to frame their argument in the weakest form imaginable or even worse to twist the other sides viewpoints to make them seem ridiculous to believe

This is called a straw-man argument

When we do this we are being intellectually dishonest

We are framing the other side in a manner that they are not representing and when we do this we are bearing false witness:

[5:8] O you who believe, you shall be absolutely equitable, and observe GOD, when you serve as witnesses. Do not be provoked by your conflicts with some people into committing injustice. You shall be absolutely equitable, for it is more righteous. You shall observe GOD. GOD is fully Cognizant of everything you do.

When we lie we are revealing our insecurity and trying to preserve our egos 

Create the strongest form of argument for the other side. One that they agree to and then begin to tear it down. At the same time you understand your position even better

If the end goal is to come to the truth and better understanding then we shouldn’t be insecure in our belief. 

Ad hominem attack

Example of Moses (fugitive, hardly speak, crazy) 

Example of Noah (worst among us first to follow you) 

[26:111] They said, "How can we believe with you, when the worst among us have followed you?"

Be Lenient  

[66:3] The prophet had trusted some of his wives with a certain statement, then one of them spread it, and GOD let him know about it. He then informed his wife of part of the issue, and disregarded part. She asked him, "Who informed you of this?" He said, "I was informed by the Omniscient, Most Cognizant.”

Just like God overlooks many of our sins, give people the benefit of the doubt. If they say they meant something else in their message or that they misspoke give them that courtesy. 

When we are being intellectually dishonest we are attempting to exalt ourselves to make our argument look stronger than it is 

[28:83] We reserve the abode of the Hereafter for those who do not seek exaltation on earth, nor corruption. The ultimate victory belongs to the righteous.

[53:32] They avoid gross sins and transgressions, except for minor offenses. Your Lord's forgiveness is immense. He has been fully aware of you since He initiated you from the earth, and while you were embryos in your mothers' bellies. Therefore, do not exalt yourselves; He is fully aware of the righteous.

Washing Hands

The year was 1846, and there was a Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis.

Who was trying to figure out why so many women in maternity wards were dying from puerperal fever — commonly known as childbed fever.

He studied two maternity wards in the hospital. One was staffed by all male doctors and medical students, and the other was staffed by female midwives. And he counted the number of deaths on each ward.

When Semmelweis crunched the numbers, he discovered that women in the clinic staffed by doctors and medical students died at a rate nearly five times higher than women in the midwives' clinic.

But why?

Semmelweis went through the differences between the two wards and started ruling out ideas.

Right away he discovered a big difference between the two clinics.

In the midwives' clinic, women gave birth on their sides. In the doctors' clinic, women gave birth on their backs. So he had women in the doctors' clinic give birth on their sides. The result had "no effect.”

Then Semmelweis noticed that whenever someone on the ward died of childbed fever, a priest would walk slowly through the doctors' clinic, past the women's beds with an attendant ringing a bell. This time Semmelweis theorized that the priest and the bell ringing so terrified the women after birth that they developed a fever, got sick and died.

So Semmelweis had the priest change his route and ditch the bell. This too had no effect.

By now, Semmelweis was frustrated. He took a leave from his hospital duties and traveled to Venice. He hoped the break and a good dose of art would clear his head.

When Semmelweis got back to the hospital, some sad but important news was waiting for him. One of his colleagues, a pathologist, had fallen ill and died.

"This often happened to the pathologists," back then. "There was nothing new about the way he died. He pricked his finger while doing an autopsy on someone who had died from childbed fever." And then he got very sick himself and died.

Semmelweis studied the pathologist's symptoms and realized the pathologist died from the same thing as the women he had autopsied. This was a revelation: Childbed fever wasn't something only women in childbirth got sick from. It was something other people in the hospital could get sick from as well.

But it still didn't answer Semmelweis' original question: "Why were more women dying from childbed fever in the doctors' clinic than in the midwives' clinic?"

The death of the pathologist offered him a clue.

"The big difference between the doctors' ward and the midwives' ward is that the doctors were doing autopsies and the midwives weren’t.

Keep in mind that this was before the scientific understanding of germs

So Semmelweis hypothesized that there were cadaverous particles, little pieces of corpse, that students were getting on their hands from the cadavers they dissected. And when they delivered the babies, these particles would get inside the women who would develop the disease and die.

If Semmelweis' hypothesis was correct, getting rid of those cadaverous particles should cut down on the death rate from childbed fever.

So he ordered his medical staff to start cleaning their hands and instruments not just with soap but with a chlorine solution. Chlorine, as we know today, is about the best disinfectant there is. He chose the chlorine because he thought it would be the best way to get rid of any smell left behind by those little bits of corpse.

And when he imposed this, the rate of childbed fever fell dramatically.

You'd think everyone would be thrilled. Semmelweis had solved the problem! But they weren't thrilled.

For one thing, doctors were upset because Semmelweis' hypothesis made it look like they were the ones giving childbed fever to the women.

And Semmelweis was not very tactful. He publicly berated people who disagreed with him and made some influential enemies.

Eventually, the doctors gave up the chlorine hand-washing, and Semmelweis — he lost his job.

Semmelweis kept trying to convince doctors in other parts of Europe to wash with chlorine, but no one would listen to him.

And it wasn’t until decades later that germ theory was commonly accepted among doctors who accepted that they needed to wash their hands to reduce the spread of germs.

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/01/12/375663920/the-doctor-who-championed-hand-washing-and-saved-women-s-lives

If these were doctors then you could assume that for their generation they were the more educated, and this is one of the problems with increased knowledge is that we are more susceptible to fool ourselves.

I could imagine that the excuses the doctors came up with and the arguments they put forward to justify why they were not the problem for the deaths of so many mom’s and their childs.

One of the quotes from one of the doctors was something in the lines of

“Docotrs are gentlemen, and a gentleman’s hands are not dirty”

It is easy to think that the people of the past were stupid that if it was you - you would have saw the evidence and not hesitated to wash your hands

I heard that Jordan Peterson used to teach a class where he would go through the atrocities that took place in Nazi Germany in WWII and the few people in Germany who risked their lives trying to help the victims and to show the people in the class that if they lived in Germany during that time most likely they wouldn’t be one of the heroins but most likely a neutral party (Doing nothing) or one of the Nazis

It is a tough pill to swallow, but here is another more light-hearted example

Deflategate

Deflategate was a National Football League (NFL) controversy involving the allegation that the New England Patriots deliberately deflated footballs used in their victory against the Indianapolis Colts in the American Football Conference (AFC) Championship Game of the 2014–15 NFL playoffs. The controversy resulted in Patriots quarterback Tom Brady being suspended for four games and the team being fined $1 million and losing two draft picks.

Now I have no clue if this was done by malintent or not, but what was interesting was that in a nationwide poll

75% of all participants believed that Tom Brady and the Patriots were guilty and that they were intentionally deflating the ball for the advantage

But in only 4 states only ~23% of voters thought he was guilty.

Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Connecticut

New England is a geographical region comprising six states of the northeastern United States: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

The four states closest to where the New England Patriots play in Massachusetts overwhelmingly thought Tom Brady was innocent. 

Falsification

Corpse and Psychiatrist 

Hugh Ross vs. Athiest Debate - what would convince you that your viewpoint is wrong

How to tell if someone is receptive to swaying? Define what would it take to be proven wrong? 

The Torah and The Quran

[28:48] Now that the truth has come to them from us, they said, "If only we could be given what was given to Moses!" Did they not disbelieve in what was given to Moses in the past? They said, "Both (scriptures) are works of magic that copied one another." They also said, "We are disbelievers in both of them." [28:49] Say, "Then produce a scripture from GOD with better guidance than the two, so I can follow it, if you are truthful.”

Never wrestle with a pig you will get dirty and the pig will like it

[6:35] If their rejection gets to be too much for you, you should know that even if you dug a tunnel through the earth, or climbed a ladder into the sky, and produced a miracle for them (they still would not believe). Had GOD willed, He could have guided them, unanimously. Therefore, do not behave like the ignorant ones. [6:36] The only ones to respond are those who listen. GOD resurrects the dead; they ultimately return to Him.

Responsibility for the viewer

If we are going to make a judgment in some issue we should do our best to be equitable and just

[4:58] GOD commands you to give back anything the people have entrusted to you. If you judge among the people, you shall judge equitably. The best enlightenment indeed is what GOD recommends for you. GOD is Hearer, Seer.

[2:182] If one sees gross injustice or bias on the part of a testator, and takes corrective action to restore justice to the will, he commits no sin. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.

Investigate Rumors Before Believing Them 

[49:6] O you who believe, if a wicked person brings any news to you, you shall first investigate, lest you commit injustice towards some people, out of ignorance, then become sorry and remorseful for what you have done.

[17:35] You shall give full measure when you trade, and weigh equitably. This is better and more righteous. [17:36] You shall not accept any information, unless you verify it for yourself. I have given you the hearing, the eyesight, and the brain, and you are responsible for using them. [17:37] You shall not walk proudly on earth —you cannot bore through the earth, nor can you be as tall as the mountains. [17:38] All bad behavior is condemned by your Lord.

Humility 

[25:63] The worshipers of the Most Gracious are those who tread the earth gently, and when the ignorant speak to them, they only utter peace.

[52:26] They will say, "We used to be kind and humble among our people.

Ends Do Not Justify The Means

Be Honest With All People 

[3:75] Some followers of the scripture can be trusted with a whole lot, and they will give it back to you. Others among them cannot be trusted with a single dinar; they will not repay you unless you keep after them. That is because they say, "We do not have to be honest when dealing with the gentiles!" Thus, they attribute lies to GOD, knowingly.

[24:33] Those who cannot afford to get married shall maintain morality until GOD provides for them from His grace. Those among your servants who wish to be freed in order to marry, you shall grant them their wish, once you realize that they are honest. And give them from GOD's money that He has bestowed upon you. You shall not force your girls to commit prostitution, seeking the materials of this world, if they wish to be chaste. If anyone forces them, then GOD, seeing that they are forced, is Forgiver, Merciful.

Trust in God and be truthful in all your affairs because ultimately it is God who determines the outcomes

Example of Joseph - if his garment is torn from the back or the front

[12:51] (The king) said (to the women), "What do you know about the incident when you tried to seduce Joseph?" They said, "GOD forbid; we did not know of anything evil committed by him." The wife of the governor said, "Now the truth has prevailed. I am the one who tried to seduce him, and he was the truthful one.

Intellectual honesty is an applied method of problem solving, characterized by an unbiased, honest attitude, which can be demonstrated in a number of different ways: 

  • One's personal belief does not interfere with the pursuit of truth; 
  • Relevant facts and information should not be purposefully omitted even when such things may contradict one's hypothesis; 
  • Facts are presented in an unbiased manner, and not twisted to give misleading representations or to support one view over another;  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_honesty

Do what pleases God and trust in Him and He alone will support you

[3:161] If GOD supports you, none can defeat you. And if He abandons you, who else can support you? In GOD the believers shall trust.

[25:33] Whatever argument they come up with, we provide you with the truth, and a better understanding.