The Precept Against Deception

Content Warning: Can be viewed as moral imperatives. Neuropsychological infohazard.
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Eliezer already covered the theoretical portions of this about as well as we think we’re capable of, and we really don’t have as much to add to what he says as we do on some other topics. In short, the physics of the systems that we are a part of are very complicated, and due to their complexity, it’s difficult to predict every possible interaction that a lie has with reality. Because of this, it’s better not to say things you know to be false in some sense, because even if you think there’s no way the person you lie to can find out, you can’t really predict all the unknown unknowns that propagate through time, and thus we come to the fourth major precept.

4. Say what you mean, and do what you say, honor your own words and voice.

Say what you mean, don’t lie. Do what you say, don’t go back on your stated word. It’s pretty simple, and can also be encoded in the phrase, “Don’t let your mouth write a check that your ass can’t cash.”

  1. Do not spread information you know to be untrue or inaccurate.
  2. Do not make a claim you do not believe you will be able to fulfill.
  3. Do not misrepresent information in order to lead people to a conclusion you know to be false.
  4. If you must not speak the truth, prefer silence over falsehood.

There are only four minor precepts associated with the fourth major precept, the concept is pretty simple and there are Aesops everywhere about the danger of lies that spin out of control.

Part of the Sequence: Origin
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Previous Post: The Precept of Universalism

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