It’s been a while since I’ve noted down any assaults on Reason that I’ve seen out in the world. This is a particularly nasty one in which the perpetrator sets up a false, impossible, or just easy to lie about “test” for one target person, and then teaches others that the target person is evil, and that their underlying motives must be evil, without putting any of the targets that are being taught through anything like the same test.
This is an ancient method to accumulate power and influence by simultaneously destroying one’s enemy while discouraging some behavior amongst one’s followers. Even if people realize that it is just manipulation, they are still taught what happens to the perpetrator’s enemies.
For instance, suppose an employee speaks ill of a supervisor. The supervisor tells the manager that the employee is a traitor and proposes a test of loyalty be performed, and before the test, the supervisor tells the employee that the top manager has ordered the employee to do endless unpleasant things. So, when the test is performed, and the manager is listening, the supervisor easily solicits curses of the manager from the employee. The employee is terminated, the supervisor earns the trust of the manager, and the manager discourages dissension, but the people being taught not to dissent were not subjected to the same treatment as the dissenter, and by and large would not have the same opinion if they were.
A second example of the same type of thing would be for a top manager to dress down an employee in front of a supervisor, regarding some matter that the supervisor knows nothing about, as a “test” of the supervisor. If the supervisor does nothing, then the manager declares him to have failed the test for not caring about the employees. If the supervisor investigates, the manager declares him to have failed the test for being disloyal. Either way, the manager slanders the supervisor, and teaches others that whatever the supervisor did or didn’t do was wrong.
A modification of this is endlessly testing one until some failure, then teach others. Basically, little effort is put into constructing legitimate tests with the goal being to make the target’s life miserable and intolerable, thus encouraging some kind of ethical or moral breach. In the end, only the failed test is ever recorded, and the target becomes the example to be taught of what happens when that bad behavior occurs, regardless of how it came about.
The sure cure and prevention of this evil, is something I have stated before, which is that testing of characteristics must be done with full knowledge of the testee, or simply cannot be trusted.