Secrets and Lies as Policy

Aug 04, 2013 Posted Under: evolution, philosophy

The recent disclosure by Edward Snowden of some of  the extent of the NSA’s information collection system has drawn unwelcome attention to the scope of governmental disinformation policy.

I think a case can be made for the notion that this outrage is an example of society evolving in a healthy direction, away from secrets and lies.  The best example of this evolution so far may be the relative success of the international patents system, obviating the advantages of secrecy for a guaranteed, but time-limited, assignment of the benefits of the new process.

There is the notion in law that no contract can be made unless there is a “meeting of the minds”.  And so, in law, most deceptions are fraudulent and invalidate the contract.  That is, there is no advantage to be gained by disinforming your partner in the contract.

This same notion needs to be expanded into all our attempts towards contracts, called treaties between and among countries.  So, full disclosure should be the rule, in all our interactions.  The best agreements, in tune with the best interests of all parties, will be achieved in this way.

This evolution is a slow, painful process, however.  In the interim there are cheaters, fraudsters, spies and sometimes politicians and diplomats all seeking to further their “Me First” and “My Group First” agendas with their preferred methods of disinformation — secrets, lies, FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt campaigns), and outright hoaxes.

How can we hasten the evolution towards more informed agreements?  By continuing to make disclosure of secrets the order of the day, even to the extent of expanding our whistle-blower protection laws.

Better agreements are more useful to the participants and less likely to result in lawsuits and, in the worst case, wars.

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