The Root of All Evil: Secrets

Dec 12, 2014 Posted Under: philosophy

Only laws needed: no violence or threat of violence against person, property or truth.

Secrets arise from transgressions of law or morality, and are almost always meant to advantage us over someone else less “in the know”.

The value of a secret may be measured in the pain one is willing to endure to maintain the secret. But the universe conspires against secrets, in that they are a local violation of entropy — as time passes, the information of a secret is degraded due to insufficient copies or preserved by becoming more holographically spread to more copies.

For instance, trade secrets are intended to give one business the advantage over its competitors of having exclusive rights to, let’s say, a cookie recipe. From the viewpoint of cookie consumers, wouldn’t it be better that any company could compete on price to make the same cookie? There would still be many cookies to choose from; i.e., no dilution of cookie choices.

In similar fashion, why should a government be allowed to know everything about its citizens while keeping secret the procedures it uses against those citizens “suspected of wrongdoing”? It seems to me, if we’re going to have a second amendment, it should apply to information, not weapons. It was originally intended to permit citizens defending themselves against the government, in a time when the weapons were rifles and canons. Now I doubt anyone would argue for equality of weapons; I at least don’t think it would be a good idea for everyone to have anti-tank and surface-to-air missiles, much less atomic bombs. Better we obviate the need for weapons by informing everyone equally of everyone’s activities and preferences, and teaching negotiating skills.

If armies were equally informed about their opponents activities, there might be fewer armed engagements because both sides would be more likely to suffer equally.

If our banking transactions were publicly visible, bribery would be much less the ordinary way of politicking.

Laws about insurance would need to change, though, so insurance companies would have to accept the entire pool of insureds at the same rate.

The only secret I can think of offhand which will continue to be useful is the ballot. A shared secret is often used to guard access to distributing your property, from a bank or elsewhere, but other methods of authentication like pictures of your eyes or fingers or ears, or your voice or dna or biota, will soon be easier and more reliable.

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