Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans


Transparency is a concept that relates to 4 of the 7 Belief systems: Money, Politics, Science and – especially – the Truth. We often conceal the truth through carefully chosen words. Our deeds often reveal our true intentions. Nowadays, transparency is about uncovering the Truth.

Originally, transparency was merely a scientific concept. Wiki: “Transparency, transparence or transparent most often refer to transparency and translucency, the physical property of allowing the transmission of light through a material.”

The extensive use of jargon in business (belief: Money) and in politics (Politics) is a main reason why transparency has become important. Words often conceal true intentions:

eBay, 2017: “We are passionate about harnessing our platform to empower millions of people by levelling the playing field for them.” Lucy Kellaway: “Bingo! In fewer than 20 words it combined five previous years’ winners, only to say nothing at all.” (AESFT). Please see yesterday’s blog about Nothing. Note: bold marking by LO.

In my youth, people sometimes said “don’t be so transparent!”. Clearly, they referred to transparency being a vice rather than today’s virtue. We were supposed to conceal our true intentions. The Asian culture is often said to be an example of such behaviour.

Corporate scandals are often rooted in accounting (ie, bookkeeping) scandals: profits are overstated and/or losses are hidden. The role of the auditors (ie, independent verification) in these accounting scandals is often a topic of debate. Nevertheless, the audit profession is one of the earliest advocates of increased transparency (FastCompany, 2011).

Transparency in business and politics will never equal the scientific definition. The 1992 movie A Few Good Men (IMDb) gives a reason for this. In a courtroom scene, Jack Nicholson shouts at Tom Cruise: “You can’t handle the truth!” This is indeed a reason why we often conceal our true intentions through misty words.

A lack of transparency might be a vice but that doesn’t mean that transparency should be considered a virtue. The Dutch language has a concept that doesn’t appear to exist in English: brengschuld versus haalschuld. This concept deals with the moral obligation regarding a “debt”: some “debts” must be “collected” while other debts must be “brought” to the “creditor”.

Some people claim that transparency is an obligation by the one who owes (eg, information, money). However, one could easily argue that (a demand for) transparency is the responsibility of the one who demands (the “creditor”). A bank seldom has these debates with its debtors.

“There is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy.” A quote by Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911), American publisher.

Transparent & Glasslike (2003) by Carpark North – artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Note LO: all markings (bolditalicunderling) by LO unless stated otherwise


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