Why We Value Sincerity & How It Influences the Culture

Sincerity, or the alignment of the inner-self with the outer-self, arose from religious movements that emphasized a modest and personal relationship with divine spirits. 

What's the Latest Development?


While we tend to think of human values as universal and outside of time, a new book shines light on the history of sincerity, how it became a value and how it has affected society through the ages. R. Jay Magill Jr.'s new book "Sincerity" defines the value as: "confronting one's innermost thoughts or emotions and relaying them to others straightforwardly, no matter how relevant to the topic, injurious to one's own reputation, or embarrassing—or however correct or incorrect." This alignment of the inner-self with the outer-self came about, writes Magill, primarily through religious movements that emphasized a modest and personal relationship with divine spirits. 

What's the Big Idea?

Since simplicity and honesty were extended into the new concept of sincerity, the value has been ruthlessly mocked by writers from Machiavelli and Nietzsche to Ben Franklin and George Bernard Shaw. "I don't think you want too much sincerity in society," said W. Somerset Maugham. "It would be like an iron girder in a house of cards." Nonetheless, Magill traces sincerity's influence through Western culture, especially in areas of art and design. The very history of design, says Magill, is a search for visual sincerity, which he argues explains the rise of abstraction in 20th century visual art. Yet insofar as insincerity gives us prettier versions of ourselves, sincerity can be a tough sell. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

 

Lateral thinking: How to workshop innovative ideas

Don't underestimate the power of play when it comes to problem-solving.

Videos
  • As we get older, the work we consistently do builds "rivers of thinking." These give us a rich knowledge of a certain kind of area.
  • The problem with this, however, is that as those patterns get deeper, we get locked into them. When this happens it becomes a challenge to think differently — to break from the past and generate new ideas.
  • How do we get out of this rut? One way is to bring play and game mechanics into workshops. When we approach problem-solving from a perspective of fun, we lose our fear of failure, allowing us to think boldly and overcome built patterns.

Are these 100 people killing the planet?

Controversial map names CEOs of 100 companies producing 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Image: Jordan Engel, reused via Decolonial Media License 0.1
Strange Maps
  • Just 100 companies produce 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
  • This map lists their names and locations, and their CEOs.
  • The climate crisis may be too complex for these 100 people to solve, but naming and shaming them is a good start.
Keep reading Show less

Straight millennials are becoming less accepting of LGBTQ people

The surprising results come from a new GLAAD survey.

Photo credit: Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • The survey found that 18- to 34-year-old non-LGBTQ Americans reported feeling less comfortable around LGBTQ people in a variety of hypothetical situations.
  • The attitudes of older non-LGBTQ Americans have remained basically constant over the past few years.
  • Overall, about 80 percent of Americans support equal rights for LGBTQ people.
Keep reading Show less