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Part of the series on
Logic and rhetoric
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After all, it is necessary to get behind someone before you can stab them in the back.
—Sir Humphrey Appleby, Yes, Prime Minister

Hypocrisy is a deceitful tactic used most often by those in power, who say "you must do this" or "you cannot do that" or " this is wrong," while purporting that they themselves do not do said thing when, in fact, they do.

A hypocrite (from the Greek, "actor"[1]) is someone who espouses a view, perspective, or philosophy without adhering in any meaningful way to it themselves, especially if they claim that their philosophy applies to all people. The ultimate snarkology of the hypocrite is "do as I say, not as I do." Generally, "hypocrite" is a pejorative term; there are practically no cases where hypocrisy is considered a good thing.

As a double standard[edit]

How is it that a supposedly perfect God doesn't know — or doesn't believe — that slavery is wrong? How is it that God doesn't believe men and women are equals? How can it be that such a God can condemn shellfish and pork, yet cannot level an outright condemnation of rape? How is it that when Hitler commited genocide he was a monster, and condemned by religious people the world over — and yet these same people can read of acts of genocide, committed either in the name of God, or supposedly committed by God himself, and find that to be righteous and holy? Why is it that when dealing with — and thinking about — God, one must set aside our moral and ethical standards? More importantly, I ask myself each day why religious people don't ask these questions?
—Casper Rigsby, Holy Sh!t — The Insanity of Blind Faith[2]

Hypocrisy often takes the form of the "double standard," the act of judging similar acts differently depending on who is responsible for them or judging people by different criteria because of who they are. Thus, a woman who has had many sexual partners may be seen as a "slut," while a similarly-experienced man may be admired for his studliness. In American legal history, the use of double standards may be seen in the higher penalties attached to the possession of crack cocaine (typically more popular with African-Americans) as opposed to the lesser penalties for possession of the powdered form of the drug typically favored by white people.

What is not hypocrisy[edit]

True friends stab you in the front.
—Oscar Wilde[3]

This is in contrast to the willful recommendation of acting against a personal practice. Someone can believe that it is better to live in a suburb and may want to himself/herself, but due to obligations or lack of resources is unable to. This, though not hypocrisy, can be dangerous because making such a recommendation without personal experience may lead someone to do something they regret.

On the other hand, a (former) drug addict who suffers for their drug usage may be very well qualified in admonishing others to not get started in harmful, expensive, illegal and addictive substances.[4]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypocrite#Etymology
  2. Volume One: Christianity, Chapter 3 (18:00), Audiobook version.
  3. https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/o/oscarwilde100745.html
  4. Of course, if one is still using the same drug as they recommend against without making efforts to try and quit, it may project a different perception about themselves.