. . . on the mind each holiday season, when many set foot inside a church for the first time in 364 days. Neal Stephenson argues that the elevation of hypocrisy from minor foible to cardinal sin is a product of the rampant relativism of the 21st century. In an age where there are no moral absolutes, the only standpoint from which one can criticize another is their own, i.e. only hypocrisy, failing by one's own lights, moral self-contradiction, remains an absolute sin.
Even if this observation is accurate, however, the question remains: pragmatically, is hypocrisy useful to society / humanity or no? Perhaps, more generally: can cognitive dissonance be a precipitous means to constructive ends? Is this an empirical question?