A new mental illness has been observed in the modern world. It’s found among people who have irrational, fear-based responses to hearing true statements. Instead of responding to these statements like rational adults, and acknowledging their truth value, they tend to have abusive outbursts: they have truthophobia.
We can define truthophobia along the lines of other phobias, which are defined as: “exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fears of a particular object, class of objects, or situation”. In short, truthophobia is an exaggerated, inexplicable and illogical fear of statements of truth.
It may have a second meaning, along the lines of homophobia and Islamophobia, which is to say a political meaning alongside its linguistic meaning. In this sense, truthophobia refers to the act of denying the truth specifically because that truth is politically inconvenient.
Characteristic of a truthophobe are theatrical displays of moral outrage intended to distract from good points made by truth-tellers. For example, they like to scream “Racist!” when statistics about the sexual assault rates of Muslim and African immigrants to Europe are brought up. They also like to scream “Racist!” whenever criticisms of Islam are made, even when those criticisms have nothing to do with any racial distinctions.
What’s telling here is that truthophobes don’t ask questions about these true statements in an effort to understand them, like an honest person would do. The truthophobe simply reacts, on the basis that the truth might harm a belief that they hold, and that this belief needs to be defended by any means necessary. They are dishonest as well as cowardly.
Any learned Buddhist could quickly determine what was wrong with the average truthophobe. Clinging to material phenomena causes suffering, and clinging to a particular interpretation of reality so tightly that expressions of any alternative interpretation are taken as threats is a fitting example of such. The more truthophobic a person, the harder they dig in; the harder they dig in, the more suffering they cause themselves and others.
Why do people become truthophobics? We can group them into three major groups.
The first are the simply dumb. Being dumb is not enough by itself to be a truthophobe, but it can be a major contributing factor, especially if the dumb person has already been brainwashed into believing something untrue. Dumb people mostly are truthophobic because of the cognitive dissonance arising from really thinking about things properly. Consequently they prefer comfortable lies to truths.
This first group are arguably the least malicious of the three, because they are the most likely to admit the truth once it is evident. Being dumb doesn’t necessarily preclude one from being honest, and dumb people are often capable of seeing the truth if they are given the time and space in which to do so. The other two groups lack the shame to admit the truth no matter how evident it is, but this first group will often change their mind if the truth is presented to them correctly.
The second group of truthophobes are the fanatics. This group believes fervently in a particular doctrine, usually political, and so much so that any statement contradicting it is aggressively attacked regardless of any truth value that statement may possess. This group is worse than the first, because not only do they refuse to accept the truth when it’s presented to them, but they actively talk a lot of shit and thereby obscure the truth from those honestly seeking it.
Fanatics are also dumb, because their fanaticism invariably creates more suffering than their ideology would prevent, even under the best possible circumstances. Fanatics degrade the quality of public discourse by being unreasonable and dishonest, which makes the truth harder to see. In this group can be found a large number of Marxists as well as the religious fanatics that they resemble.
The third group are evil. The unfortunate truth is that a particularly malicious strain of truthophobes exist – one who tell lies and deny the truth specifically because to do so brings suffering into the world. Many in this category spread confusion and fear because they directly profit from it. Invariably they don’t simply reject the truth but actively seek to destroy the reputations of anyone speaking it, so as to discourage them from trying to speak the truth again.
People in this third group are mostly afraid of the truth about themselves, because it’s this fundamental fear that motivates their evil. Their ultimate fear is that they are truthfully not worth very much themselves, and the key to defeating these people is to never let them suspect otherwise.
Anyone trying to speak the truth in today’s environment will certainly encounter all three of these types in short order.
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