In today’s spotlight, we turn our attention to the familiar notion of convenience. Webster defines convenience as, “The state of being able to proceed with something with little effort or difficulty.” Now we all like our conveniences and why shouldn’t we? But, this is not the sort of convenient that I want to address today. No—the class of convenient I have in mind is that story, that explanation, that response that conveniently explains an otherwise difficult topic.
Perhaps a couple of examples will help unpack what I am suggesting. Imagine a conversation where someone makes a statement that is clearly untrue and you challenge it. They respond with something like this, “Well—I was told that so I don’t really know for sure.” Now that’s a convenient way to duck a lie—but perhaps they were actually told it by someone so they get a pass. After all, the nature of their convenient response “might” be true.
So you pursue this, “Who told you that nonsense?” Their answer, “I don’t remember.” Again, how convenient, but then, there is no penalty for forgetting so once again they get a free pass. Oh, you might shrug and think to yourself, “How convenient,” but then that’s usually the end of it unless you’re being cross-examined in a court of law.
I seem to have been in the business of interviewing folks for most of my life. I have interviewed more than a thousand during criminal investigations or lie detection scenarios, and several hundred more on my radio shows—and that doesn’t include the hundred plus that I have interviewed as an employer. I have often come to expect “convenient answers” when the subject gets dicey.
We All Lie
Not long ago we hosted Dan Ariely on Provocative Enlightenment Radio. Ariely is a professor of psychology and behavioral economics teaching at Duke University. He is the founder of The Center for Advanced Hindsight and the author of Predictably Irrational and The Honest Truth About Dishonesty. His research tells a compelling story: we all lie!
Now to an honest person that doesn’t come as any surprise. Some make a career out of it—that is, at least out of exaggeration and what advertising attorneys call “puffing.” Politicians are famous for lies and broken promises and “convenient answers.” So what’s the big deal?
CREDIBILITY—that’s the big deal!!! We live in a world where the truth is often in shorter supply than water in the Mojave. How do we know what to believe? Does everyone have an agenda? Is everything about selling us a product, an idea, a way of thinking, etc., etc. etc.
I can choose almost any subject and find contrary information. This past week headlines told stories of the not so well known ingredients in vaccines, such as formaldehyde, and how we should avoid many. Turn the page and you might read where recommendations are being made to make it criminal if you either ‘bad mouthed’ vaccines or refused to get your inoculation. Obviously we must all be alert to the agendas on both sides of all arguments, but should we also challenge the seemingly incredible statements offered by many in the name of spirituality? Well, I think so!
Take this one for example. Once I interviewed a person who had belonged to a church that prepared for the end of the world. It was certain and it was near, so they built special shelters, put in food and water, and so forth. When the day was close at hand, the members descended into their bunkers to wait Armageddon. A few days later they cautiously surfaced to find everything as it was—no Armageddon—no end times! How did they explain this? The answer is simple, obviously their efforts, their goodness, their prayers averted the tragedy for all. Unlike the days of Noah or Lot, there apparently were more than enough good people to spare the earth. Now that’s a downright convenient answer in my view.
Platitudes and Generalities
Other examples would include platitudes and generalities such as, to the problem of evil, “We are all perfect and a part of God, therefore there is no evil in the world.” Or, “Values are relative and we make deals on the other side so some of us choose to help others by playing the bad guy on earth. This explains the actions of the likes of Hitler, serial killers and so forth. They are here to teach us to forgive and they are not evil since evil doesn’t really exist. Again, we are all a part of God so how could evil exist?” And I say, “How much more convenient to justify atrocities in the world could you possibly make it?”
There are real miracles to be found every day somewhere in this marvelous world! That said, nonsense is nonsense and should be called out for the rubbish it is!
The world today has developed science and technology that surpasses any time in history. We possess the ability to clone a human being, to make decisions with artificial intelligence, to view the operation of the brain live time and map its processes, to modify the DNA molecule and so much more; and yet, we still have a world full of superstition and nonsense. I am sometimes reminded of the 14th through 17th century—a time in history when tens of thousands of witches were killed (approximately 80% were women). Now this was going on during the lives of men like Galileo, Bacon and Newton. Indeed, the great renaissance of the humanities, art and architecture, as well as science, blossomed during this period. How then in retrospect did folks go so wrong searching out and killing witches?
Horses or Centaurs?
Once again I would implore you, when you hear hoof beats—think horses first, not Centaurs. And when you get that convenient answer—don’t be rude but don’t dismiss it either!
We wake up one person at a time and waking up requires the careful discrimination of information you use to guide your way in what can seem like a confusing and sometimes dark world. We all would like to escape the dark whenever we encounter it, but running to any old light will only end in disappointment and eventually more confusion, and therefore darkness.
Thanks for the read and as always, I truly appreciate your comments and feedback.
NY Time Bestselling Author of Choices and Illusions