Friday, August 16, 2013

"It's OK to lie if you're the smartest guy in the room." - Plato

Well, it's er..."condensed".
Such,” said I, “appears to me, Glaucon, the general notion of our selection and appointment of rulers and guardians as sketched in outline, but not drawn out in detail.” “I too,” he said, “think much the same.” “Then would it not truly be most proper to designate these as guardians in the full sense of the word, watchers against foemen without and friends within, so that the latter shall not wish and the former shall not be able to work harm, but to name those youths whom we were calling guardians just now, helpers and aids for the decrees of the rulers?” “I think so,” he replied.
“How, then,” said I, “might we contrive one of those opportune falsehoods of which we were just now speaking, so as by one noble lie to persuade if possible the rulers themselves, but failing that the rest of the city?” “What kind of a fiction do you mean?” said he. “Nothing unprecedented,” said I, “but a sort of Phoenician tale,4 something that has happened ere now in many parts of the world, as the poets aver and have induced men to believe, but that has not happened and perhaps would not be likely to happen in our day and demanding no little persuasion to make it believable.” “You act like one who shrinks from telling his thought,” he said. “You will think that I have right good reason for shrinking when I have told,” I said.  “Say on,” said he, “and don't be afraid.” “Very well, I will. And yet I hardly know how to find the audacity or the words to speak and undertake to persuade first the rulers themselves and the soldiers and then the rest of the city, that in good sooth all our training and educating of them were things that they imagined and that happened to them as it were in a dream; but that in reality at that time they were down within the earth being molded and fostered themselves while their weapons and the rest of their equipment were being fashioned. And when they were quite finished the earth as being their mother delivered them, and now as if their land were their mother and their nurse they ought to take thought for her and defend her against any attack and regard the other citizens as their brothers and children of the self-same earth.” “It is not for nothing,” he said, “that you were so bashful about coming out with your lie.” “It was quite natural that I should be...”

But if you only THINK you're the smartest guy in the room, and you're not, it's still OK to lie because it's like "stand your ground" - you believed you were right, and if it turns out you were wrong, and a whole lot of people got killed, then (like the guys in the Iraq helicopter video, or those responsible for entire Iraq invasion) you didn't do anything wrong.