Screwtape: Lies and Empathy
Updated: Dec 14, 2021
My Dear Wormwood,
Success with the patient will never be realized unless we are able to create narratives that give people a false sense of righteous justice to their envy and resentment. However, the key to this treatment is to not just hijack a persons' sense of justice, even more powerful is to first hijack their sense of empathy.
This may surprise you as empathy is often used against us, but it provides perfect shielding and cover for lies. It’s like the spoon full of sugar that makes the medicine go down. So how does it work?
Generally, the best way is to get personal. Get the patient to share a genuinely bad and unjust experience they had. For example, you might have a black patient explain how a cop pulled them over when they did nothing wrong and how they were scared because they had just watched a YouTube video about George Floyd, or perhaps a woman can tell a story about how a male employer talked down to her, or a gay person can explain how they were bullied. Please note the story must be genuine, it should be a true story of injustice. Some may be tempted to exaggerate but when a person is 100% sincere it more efficiently activates the empathy of everyone around, especially if the listener has experienced a similar injustice or if they know someone that has. This empathy brings the walls down, and that's the perfect time to use this to our advantage.
The next step is to encourage the patient to plug their experience into broader false ideas we already have in circulation either explicitly or (more effectively) by implication. Connect their isolated experience as evidence of a bigger problem. Don’t worry. Most people are terrible at statistics and won’t realize that a single data point or anecdote is insufficient to make broad claims. But this is where it really works wonders.
If anyone begins to bring up data that refutes the narrative, chastise them for lack of empathy. After all, how could one be so heartless as to cite data in the face of a personal story. Imply they are bigoted, call them victim blamers, etc. This completely shields the victim's ability to push the bigger false narratives even if the data does not support it. Most people’s sense of empathy and need for social acceptance is far stronger than their sense of reason, especially when a personal lived experience is being expressed.
Make sure everyone knows they must validate personal experiences. By validating the experience they end up validating the narrative too. And if anyone tries and goes after the narrative, accuse them of being a jerk for not validating someone’s “lived experience.” Also, it’s really helpful to have them say things like, “well you are a white male so you can’t ever understand”. Make truth a matter of subjective experience rather than objective discernible fact. Our enemies have the facts on their side, so be sure to avoid them.
Then pivot to justice. Take that sense of empathy to create narratives about "oppressed" and "oppressors" even if the data is not there to support it. Any disparity should be blamed on the "oppressors". We can't let the patients know that disparities are the norm in any system because human beings and groups have different interests, demographics, etc. We must insist that no matter what the data show, disparities are caused by injustice. Use these false premises to hijack their sense of justice and get together like minded patients and form action groups. And it gets better (if you can believe it). The resistance from the “oppressors” then creates a sense of justification for your patients and cements in them the truth of the false narratives you have been sowing.
However, be cautious. Keep them from understanding that justice operates at the level of the individual. Have them take action against "oppressors" as a group! Taking action against an individual for his individual actions is actual justice (and we can't have that). Holding individuals responsible for people in their "group" regardless of individual behavior is what we are after. Also, "Group Justice" does not sell as well so hijack "Social Justice" as the sexy slogan of the cause.
Oh Wormwood, this has been working wonders lately! It has not only been an effective treatment, it has produced hilarious results. We have been creating new groups of "oppressors" and "victims" every day. Some have even got groups to form over offenses so small they call them “micro aggressions”. They actually spend more time now worrying about using made up pronouns than hundreds of thousands of people currently enslaved in Chinese concentration camps!
Lastly, beware of those who see through this. These are the types whose sense of reason governs their empathy and need for justice. It’s a powerful inculcation against the treatment. Luckily for us, very few have this disposition towards letting rationality keep their emotional responses in control, especially when dealing with personal anecdotes.
Good luck Wormwood, I am sure you will find much success with this new treatment program. There is nothing so irresistible as a false narrative wrapped in empathy.