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Review:David R. Hawkins:Truth vs Falsehood
Truth vs Falsehood: How to Tell the Difference
by David R. Hawkins
Axial Publishing Company, 2004
Review by Mary-Sue Haliburton, Sept. 24, 2006
Comparison to Earlier Book
This book differs from Hawkins' foundational work Power vs Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior in several ways. (For what I see as the key flaw in that book, please see my review of that book.)
In the newer book, the author does not explicity state his calibration of the content of each chapter as he did previously. He makes assertions about the consciousness level of assorted political groups and individuals, and readers are apparently supposed to assume that he's done all the fact-checking and thought everything through.
Unlike Power vs Force which indicated that virtually anyone can learn to do calibration, in this book the author discourages the reader from bothering to attempt it. Instead of treating his readers as people who want to understand and encouraging people in general to learn his system as he did in Power vs Force, he explicitly tells readers to abdicate their responsibility to seek truth for themselves.
Error of Omission Becomes Core Fallacy
Hawkins never asks whether a person is telling the truth, and does not expect his readers to raise this question. Instead, based on "calibrations" - done by persons unknown who are classified as being of higher consciousness because they are above 200 (which on this scale is not very high, by the way) - we are simply supposed to accept that what the author says is valid because HE claims to have "higher consciousness" than we, the readers, should dare to presume that we have.
Because human actions of telling truth vs intentional lying were never calibrated, Hawkins is now able to leap triumphantly to the conclusion that it isn't necessary to make such a calibration because anyone who has "higher consciousness" is automatically telling the truth, and anyone rated as having "lower consciousness" on his scale of arrogance is automatically spouting falsehoods.
That is a logical non-sequitur, as well as being a gigantic assumption that can be easily demonstrated to be unfounded.
The arrogance is breathtaking. And offensive. And it is also based in the political philosophy of Leo Strauss which advocates explicitly the use of deception so that the masses may be controlled more easily by an elite of supposedly wiser (i.e. wealthier) beings. Seen in this light, the omission is not an "error" but rather the hallmark of a Straussian philosopher.
Author's Apparent Objective: to Create an Unquestioning, Malleable TV Audience
The transfer of responsibility for discerning truth from self to a TV talking head is the most offensive part of this book. Exercising discernment about politics and public affairs is too complicated for our little minds, he is telling us.
Instead, he explicity advises us to trust one TV news anchor who allegedly has "higher consciousness" - Mr. O'Reilly of Fox News. Thus "truth" can be boiled down to mean everything this man likes, and "falsehood" means everything he doesn't agree with. Simple, all right. We'd have to be simple-minded to accept a journalist as infallible, while the author finds fault with acknowledged spiritual leaders (calibrated in the earlier book as having a much higher level).
The author simply tells us that his panel of so-called higher-consciousness calibrators have rated this man at 460. That's in the level of "reason" - but below Love (500). The unspoken implication of telling us about O'Reilly's alleged high ranking is that TV viewers are all supposed to classify ourselves as lower than him. We are therefore supposed to pull our forelocks and bow to the "superior" man's allegedly greater insight.
The author doesn't expect his readers to be able to find grounds to disagree with their subordination, nor with any of what the news anchor promulgates from his platform, or pedestal....
The apparent plan to numb the public mind is not working very well, as can be seen in recent controversy that has exploded over the lame attempt by the administration which was in power at the time to smear the former president with responsibility for the World Trade Center demolition and other events of five years ago. A courageous journalist pulls no punches in demolishing the sorry excuse for journalism practised by Fox News. In her article, "Olbermann’s Special Comment: Are YOURS the actions of a true American?" Nicole Belle writes: "The nation’s freedoms are under assault by an administration whose policies can do us as much damage as Al-Qaeda; the nation’s "marketplace of ideas" is being poisoned, by a propaganda company so blatant that Tokyo Rose would’ve quit."
There is a long history of media compliance with, even promotion of, government policies. Writing nearly a century ago, Hilaire Belloc showed all of the same forces at work to hide facts and and to confuse the public. In his insightful book The Free Press which has recently been republished, Belloc outlined the origins of how financial interests corrupted the principle of serving the public into tailoring information to serve the powerful - and make a profit while doing it. The hard-hitting preface shows how concentration of media ownership into half a dozen super-corporations has worsened the problem by eliminating the smaller independent voices that were still operating when Belloc wrote, leading in the 21st century to homogenized "news" in place of fact-based debate and original insight.
This oft-repeated thesis of Hawkins' book that we are all spiritually inferior to a TV talking head should bother anyone with a healthy psyche. Unless the term "higher consciousness" is nothing more than a way to designate a stronger mind overwhelming a weaker one, it is hard to see how a news anchor's usual bully tactics and scorn can possibly be set on such a pedestal. Apparently we don't have to think about that little man behind the curtain.
At only 460, O'Reilly is well below the "love" watershed point of 500; respect for others comes from love. If there is to be any hierarchy of truth, no one who is below 700 should be allowed to do calibrations and expect everyone else to believe in the conclusions -- but it's doubtful that people who live by the higher-love principle would participate in this questionable exercise. With Love comes Humility, and awareness that we are not superior to others.
From What Consciousness Level Do Death Threats Come?
Another example of "the O'Reilly factor" at work undermining its own supposed spiritually-superior authority is the news anchor's emotional outburst against Dr. Kevin Barrett, co-founder of the Muslim-Jewish-Christian Alliance for Truth in the Media. (For background please see his letter to the owner of Fox Network. <>)
Apparently despite his "higher consciousness" of 460 in the level of reason, O'Reilly was unable to come up with any actual refutation of Barrett's evidence that the demolition of the World Trade Centre was done by means of explosives and therefore could conceivably have been an inside job, or at least aided and abetted from within the country. Logically, therefore, Barrett calls for independent investigation to find perpetrators and collaborators who betrayed their own countrymen.
In response, this "bellwether of integrity" (as Hawkins calls O'Reilly) opines angrily that Barrett ought to have been killed by his university. It seems to me that an incitement-to-murder outburst must fall somewhere below 100 even on Hawkins' own imperfect scale. (What was being expressed in this threat outburst? Vengefulness? Jealously? Do the calibrations yourself to figure it out!) Instead of being bastions of intellectual integrity, O'Reilly actually suggested that universities should routinely use violence as the "ultimate argument" when faced with a critic of their dominant ethos.
Is murder any kind of substitute for exacting analysis and logical debate? Is advocating it evidence of "higher consciousness"?
Cost of Telling Truth
If O'Reilly's suggestion were to be believed as representing the superior way to manage society, not only Barrett would be a target, but all dissenters would be summarily executed. So much for the notion of freedom of speech; apparently to believe in it is "un-American" - although the hundreds who wrote messages of support to Barrett would disagree. Another recipient of death threats, Eric May, is a military man and intelligence analyst who identified a numerology code in the timing of terrorist attacks: e.g. the Madrid train bombing was exactly 911 days after the WTC destruction. In an interview in which he describes how his "Ghost Troop" associates are using knowledge of this code to predict attacks and to stop another such event from occurring, May says, "It’s a sad time when telling the truth is risking your life." ()
In a book review, Dr. Kevin Barrett <http://mujca.com/newbook.htm>) writes that an "emphasis on truth, and abhorrence of lies, parallels the implications of the name al-Haqq, 'Truth' or 'Reality', which is one of the very highest names of God in Islamic tradition. And his Hegelian road-map to the current spiritual conflict makes sense to those of us who are trying to resolve apparently clashing opposites—such as the Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths post-9/11—in order to help clear the toxic fog of lies and raise humanity to a higher spiritual state." (Nov. 18th MUJCA e-newsletter)
Religion vs Propaganda
Hawkins' assumption that his superior consciousness gives him the right to pontificate about others being less enlightened than he has in fact led him to make almost exactly the same statement that was recently made by Pope Benedict, insulting the founding prophet of Islam. Predictably, the Prophet's followers are outraged. (Benedict's complete speech is online at , if you wish to check the context of his quotations.) Since in some regions and periods of history, Catholicism practised forcing people to convert, it seems that the Pontiff can hardly sit in judgment if someone else advocated doing likewise at some time in humanity's universally-violent past.
On page 313 of Truth vs Falsehood, Hawkins makes his assertions about the founder of Islam, claiming temporal-lobe epilepsy - for which allegedly historical detail he gives no footnote or source. As he argues on page 344, taking a far-right stance in a religion activates zealotry and spiritual hatred (which arise from spleen, not from the heart). As long such a statement is applied equally to the fundamentalist streak in all religions, I wouldn't argue.
In expressing his own political bias, his analysis becomes unbalanced and selective. For example, on page 308 he lists terrorist organizations with connections to Islam, and of course calibrates them below 100 - the level of vengefulness. No surprise there. Where the problem lies is in not doing any assessment of the "Western" equivalent, which are regarded as terrorists in the Islamic world. Thus covert "black ops", and private agencies which have disseminated false news, carried out acts of violence against civilians in any country they chose, perpetrated assassinations against public figures at home and abroad, and tortured prisoners are omitted from this part of the discussion if they have ties to America or to "Western Civilization" in general.
This one-sided chapter probably leaves readers assuming that American Christian civilization is superior to other systems. If not alert and critical - or patient enough to read to the end and encounter a small chapter about "marginal beliefs" - readers might miss the fact that Hawkins assigns an even lower ranking to American Christian right-wing fundamentalism. It comes in below 100, among UFO-believing, hedonistic Raelians, and Aztecs practising human sacrifice. (Truth vs Falsehood, p. 359)
Ignoring His Own Clues
There are more blatant blind spots in this author's supposedly masterful explication of how his nation is based on truth, while all its enemies are based on falsehoods. He attributes blood lust to the Jihad (TvF, p. 300), describing how the Muslim terrorists gleefully blow up buses full of children and destroy the innocent. In the next paragraph, he refers to how death is associated with the symbol of skull and bones.
Hello! Apparently this term doesn't even ring a bell for him. Since he brought the subject up, would it not be logical at this juncture to do a calibration on the "Skull and Bones" organization that happens to control the American presidency?
But of course by making this only an allusion to a widely-recognized death symbol and linking it only to Muslim terrorists, Hawkins is merely using a literary trick. He intends only to create an emotional blurring of mind that will lead to acceptance of his argument. The author then immediately drops this thread, and returns to the subject of Islam as bogeyman. He does not intend to launch as a new direction of inquiry the topic of the secretive Yale fraternity (Skull and Bones). But just because the author failed to do so, doesn't mean that others must ignore this avenue of exploration.
Biological Basis of Telling and Receiving Truth:
If truth were not important to all living beings, why would the Creator of all assign even to "mere" animals a fine-tuned sense of emotional astuteness? As "animals" all creatures, humans included, can detect the chemicals and hormones, as well as recognizing subtle behavioral clues. Virtually all humans, even those who have not cultivated the ability to analyze intellectually, recognize an innate "gut feeling" that - if we pay attention to it - serves as a tip-off to warn our conscious minds that we are being misled. This built-in sense stimulates us to search out more facts and to recognize dangers. If we ignore this intuitive factor we all have, we are dumber than the "dumb" beasts.
Animals themselves have an innate ability to detect dishonesty in man, as explained by Linda Kohanov in her beautiful book The Tao of Equus. (New World Library, 2001. ISBN 1-57731-182-5) Ultra-sensitive to "emotional incongruity" -- meaning that they sense whether a person's hidden intentions are different from the overt ones -- horses will not trust anyone emitting such mixed messages, which they unerringly detect. This is why these animals are so helpful in "equine-assisted" psychotherapy.
We Become What We Do
A new study has found that when compared to brain structure of people who normally tell the truth, the brains of habitual liars have over 20% more "white matter". This white matter is the control structure which the brain develops as the consistent liar struggles to keep track of the lies he or she has already told. In consequence, the grey matter, which merely stores memory, is diminished in the habitual liar by about 14%. This is why pathological liars are often caught contradicting themselves; they eventually get to the point at which they just can't remember all the stuff they previously said! This information was posted at: <>
Thus it is important for all, whatever our religion, whatever our politicalt theories (right wing or left wing), and whatever our race, to tell the truth consistently. If not, whether we lie to other humans (regardless of race or creed), or try to dissemble to animals (who are usually NOT fooled, as anyone who has tried to catch a cat to take it to the vet can testify), we diminish our God-given nature.
Is Telling a Lie Ever OK?
Can there be such a thing as a different consciousness level for lying? For example, a person knowingly presents as truth some data that he fabricated, with a motive to cause injury to another. I would predict that such an act of lying would fall between 0 and 50 if I were to use a numerical scale similar to the Hawkins system. However, if a person hears such concocted information, believes it, and repeats it to others, is he at as low a level? And if someone knowingly fabricates data, but does it to spare another from pain or public humiliation, would that actually score any higher on the scale while still being a falsehood? At what level would the so-called "white lie" calibrate?
Meanwhile, if telling the truth requires courage because it entails paying a political, social or financial price, this would be based on love because it includes respect for others, and thus logically I would expect it to rate at least above 500 even in Hawkins' flawed scale. And perhaps the truth-telling would calibrate much higher if the motivation is to bring about justice and positive social effects. If a person repeats something that is verifiably true, yet does it for the purpose of attracting attention to himself, is that going to calibrate at a lower level?
Try calibrating this yourself, and find your own answer.
It has been my experience (on both sides of the issue) that people would rather be told the truth, even if hurts at the time. It's better to know what is really going on, than to be led to believe a lie and to find out, later - too late to have made use of the information - what the truth was. Truth really does make you free, and helps prevent going down a lot of garden paths based on the false information.
And if someone is directing us down such a garden path, it's probably safe to assume that the purpose of such misdirection is not for our benefit. Lying tends to lead to cheating and other abuses.
And my distrust of this author increased as I went through Truth vs Falsehood, and discovered how he was using the hierarchy of superior-consciousness individuals to twist the facts, and to take away from the reader any responsibility to think for himself. If you choose to read this book, keep a line open to your own intution, and be alert for what is omitted, as well as what is stated.
Implications for Science
The absence of any concept of "telling truth" from those who seek to set the tone for a whole society - ranging from authors such as Hawkins and his colleagues to news vendors with destructive biases - is the context in which we have to assess the truth or objective reality of scientific theory. In that context we have to assess technolgies based on these theories; the social implications of using these technologies; and predictions of consequences of continuing to use any that have harmful effects on the health of humans and the biosphere. The question, "Who has a reason to hide the facts?" is as crucial, or perhaps even more fundamental, than merely asking, "What are the facts?"
Obtaining the Book
- Truth vs Falsehood: How to Tell the Difference (Amazon.com)