Bad Faith Communication

businessman selling a couple business things

Bad faith is to act in ways that spoof the normal modes of interaction, such as in debate, conversation, commerce, while actually pursuing hidden, selfish motives or even hoping to disrupt the operation of the system in which they operate… [Making] effort as is necessary to avoid understanding a conflicting viewpoint to the extent that it might actually pose a challenge. All of these examples are shadows cast by the same desire: to frustrate, annoy, show off, posture in front of one’s followers, rather than to learn, exchange information and create connections.

Bad faith is a pervasive and destructive force in society that undermines trust, cooperation, and the ability to resolve conflicts peacefully. It takes many forms, including hypocrisy, breach of contract, affectation, and lip service, and can involve both intentional deception of others and self-deception.

Examples of bad faith can be seen in various situations, such as soldiers pretending to surrender and then attacking their enemy, a company representative negotiating with union workers without any intention of compromising, a prosecutor arguing a legal position that they know to be false, or an insurer using misleading language and reasoning to deny a claim.

In recent decades, the culture wars and the rise of social media have contributed to the normalization of bad faith communication. Politicians, journalists, and everyday people on all sides engage in tactics such as intentionally misleading others with facts, mischaracterizing opposing views, and dehumanizing those they disagree with. Populations are also increasingly exposed to computational propaganda and other manipulative information.

This erosion of trust and good faith communication can have serious consequences for society. When open communication breaks down and cannot be used to resolve conflicts and coordinate behavior, societies are more likely to descend into chaos, war, oppression, and authoritarianism. To restore trust in good faith communication, there must be a cultural shift towards civic virtues and a redesign of the technologies and social processes that shape civic discourse. Overall, it is essential for the health and stability of society to prioritize and cultivate good faith communication in all areas of life.

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