Intellectual dishonesty

Intellectual dishonesty is a failure to apply standards of rational evaluation that one is aware of, usually in a self-serving fashion.

I’ve sat in front of my keyboard for 2 hours now, and I keep restraining myself from typing what I want to say, because it will damage reputations.

Instead, let me share a couple of teachings I find particularly inspiring and powerful.

MN 61

evameva kho, rāhula, “In the same way, Rāhula,
yassa kassaci sampajāna-musā-vāde natthi lajjā, when anyone feels no shame in telling a deliberate lie,
n-āhaṃ tassa kiñci pāpaṃ a-karaṇīyanti vadāmi. there is no evil, I tell you, he will not do.
tasmātiha te, rāhula, ‘hassāpi na musā bhaṇissāmī’ti — Thus, Rāhula, you should train yourself,
evañhi te, rāhula, sikkhitabbaṃ. ‘I will not tell a deliberate lie even in jest.’

from mae chee kaew’s biography

I think this is where it came from. This not not exactly what she said, and I probably have a slightly different spin on it then she may have intended, but how I interpreted her instruction is:

Sometimes you end up having to lie (to someone else or the world), and that’s ok, or tolerable in some aspect. But you must never lie to yourself . That can never be tolerated. At all times you have to be honest with yourself about what your true intentions and motives are.

We’re human and we make mistakes, but always being honest with ourselves, that keeps us in touch with our conscience and keeps the possibility of rehabilitation and redemption alive. May we all have the courage to atone for our mistakes.


This is fine. Yet it is incomplete.

In mathematics we learn about rigorous proof, essentially “rational evaluation.” The power of rational evaluation is that we can all agree on the proof by using rules of inference. We are taught in school that math is truth. And we are taught about Euclidean geometry. With these simple rational tools we can do many things. We can build houses that look exactly like each other.

Yet rational evaluation is incomplete. Mathematicians, using rational evaluation have actually proved that there are limitations. There was a mathematician named Goedel who proved that:

no consistent system of axioms whose theorems can be listed by an effective procedure is capable of proving all truths about the arithmetic of the natural numbers.

In other words, there are truths that we can argue about endlessly. This is what rational evaluation has proven. Rational intellect has proven that rational evaluation is limited.

That is why one should always be extremely cautious about claiming that another is intellectually dishonest. They may know something we do not.

For example, have you noticed that all Dhamma talks are different even though they all talk about the Dhamma?

Is this difference intellectual dishonesty or is it just the Dhamma?


I won’t get specific, but trust me, this is 99.99% probable of being intellectual dishonesty. The .001% chance its not, is because they wanted to believe their lies so badly they believe their own lies. And it’s not just one instance. It’s just one instance that I carefully researched, checked, double checked, consulted others before drawing conclusions. There are so many more instances of their probable intellectual dishonesty that I just don’t have time or interest to check up on every suspicious claim (there is an abundance of them).

I’m keeping silent for now. Their intellectual dishonesty is out in plain sight, if they don’t change their ways and make amends, it will blow up and they’ll have to face the consequences eventually.

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In the Dzogchen tradition of Tantra, there is an eccentric belief that the mind at rest generally already abides in the first dhyāna naturally. Are they being “intellectually dishonest”? Probably not. They are just wrong from the perspectives generally present here. It is possible to simply be “wrong”, not know it, and also not be lying in one way or another.

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Reason for thread closure: This forum abides by the tenets of Right Speech. While intellectual honesty is a useful subject to discuss in terms of what the EBT teachings, strong criticism of individual people, named and even unnamed, is not an appropriate approach.