The New York Times posted a video last month of an interview they conducted with Ray Dalio, the founder of the largest hedge fund in the world (Bridgewater Associates), and the captain of one of the more terrifying work cultures ever. Bridgewater, which manages $150 billion worldwide, preaches a work culture euphemized as “radical transparency,” a culture so monomaniacally focused on fact-checking and honesty that it goes beyond the work itself. Dalio was featured in a 2011 New Yorker profile, which introduces him in a standard weekly investment meeting with his subordinates. During that meeting he publicly upbraided a junior employee for speaking his opinion:

“Are you going to answer me knowledgeably or are you going to give me a guess?” The young man, whom I will call Jack, said he would hazard an educated guess. “Don’t do that,” Dalio said. He went on, “You have a tendency to do this. . . . We’ve talked about this before.” After an awkward silence, Jack tried to defend himself, saying that he thought he had been asked to give his views. Dalio didn’t let up. Eventually, the young employee said that he would go away and do some careful calculations.

Dalio is known to do things like this–to publicize errors in front of an audience. He is known for videotaping nearly every company meeting and for asking employees to grade one another based upon the video evidence. He is also known for bringing employees in on the discussion of whether or not they should get the promotion or not. He is extremely interested in neuroscience; everyone at Bridgewater carries around what could be called their own personal baseball card–how they bat on average in various psychosocial environments.

All of this, within Dalio’s mechanistic system, stems from a belief in the power of transparency to create an “ideal meritocracy.”

Dalio is serenely convinced that the precepts he relies on in the markets can be applied to other aspects of life, such as career development and management. And he has enough regard for his own views on these subjects to have collected them in print. Before our meeting, he sent me a copy of his “Principles,” a hundred-page text that is required reading for Bridgewater’s new hires. It turned out to be partly a self-help book, partly a management manual, and partly a treatise on the principles of natural selection as they apply to business. “I believe that all successful people operate by principles that help them be successful,” a passage on the second page said. The text was organized into three sections: “5 Steps to Personal Evolution,” “10 Steps to Personal Decision-Making,” and “Management Principles.” The last of the two hundred and seventy-seven management principles was: “Constantly worry about what you are missing. Even if you acknowledge you are a ‘dumb shit’ and are following the principles and are designing around your weaknesses, understand that you might still be missing things. You will be better and be safer this way.”

This sounds like insanity, if you ask me, a cruel, anxious-making philosophy of a man who thinks life works like a machine. I for one wouldn’t last five minutes in a meeting. Most of my ideas are half-cocked, anyways, and if I was pressed on them, I’d fold. After fumbling over some market data, you’d find me in a puddle under the conference table.

But Dalio is obviously a success, and it doesn’t seem to affect the fund’s perfomance. In 2011, when that article came out, Dalio had made almost $4 billion for himself. And, theoretically, you can even understand the motivation behind it all. This comes from this month’s NYT interview:

When you then start to realize that that’s what reality looks like, if you’re running a company and you encounter things, the rest of the world has this overly simplistic views of how things are…If you don’t have radical transparency, you’re going to have a lot more problems, but by making everything transparent, you’re going to have less lying, you’re going to have less problems, and everybody’s going to understand better. Isn’t it better to be that way?

Indeed, doesn’t it sound better? Wouldn’t it be nice? To be free of the baggage of your quiet resentments and secrets, to let go the weight of your silence, to actually speak honestly without distortion or fear of offense? Who wouldn’t love to be able to speak up to their boss about his wrong thinking–who wouldn’t love to do the same with their friends? Imagine the levity of life with everything out on the table!

But as soon as I start to think this all sounds very freeing, the table is turned: would I or would I not feel glad to receive such transparency? From my friend? From my boss? No. I would not. I don’t know want to know what you think of me–I don’t want to hear (publicly or privately) what facts I’ve failed to consider. Maybe it’s because I’m a softy–and maybe this, too, is why I’m no New York financier–but I do not think I’d suddenly feel liberated to know what things I particularly suck at.

This, after all, gets at the heart of the problem with “Law in Practice.” To operate under its philosophy is to be completely blind to anthropology. As nice as total transparency sounds in theory, as nice as it sounds to hear “constructive criticism” unemotionally, it is impossible. People are emotional. Relationships are forged (and broken) emotionally; decisions are often (almost always?) made emotionally; and because we are emotional creatures, sometimes, the fact is crueler than the lie.

But the other problem with “radical transparency” is that, while it may bring a hedge fund higher margins, it cannot do what Dalio says it does. It cannot, and has not, not ever, brought less lying, or fewer problems. The Law, Paul says, increases the trespass. If it’s not happening in the recorded investor meetings, it’s happening at the bars later, or in their homes even later than that. No matter how tightly you coerce transparency, workplaces without liars don’t exist.

A while back, a close relative asked me what kind of church I attended. When I told him it was an Episcopal church, he asked me how I justified attending a church whose lineage was founded on the hypocrisy of the Church of England. (He was, of course, meaning the founding of the Church of England under, among other things, Henry VIII’s need for a divorce.) I didn’t know what to tell him. I told him it certainly isn’t how you’d want to write it–it doesn’t fit a rational system like you might map out the economic machine. But it’s also no better or worse than the first founding of the first church, with lying Peter at the helm. It seems that Jesus had this sort of acceptance in mind: a body of believers, who also happen to be total hypocrites, led by the hypocrite-follower-in-chief.

It’s not as if the hypocrisy game got any cleaner for Peter after that day by the beach, frying fish with Jesus. He may have been called the Rock, but it’s only a few books later (in Galatians 2) that St. Paul dishes out a little “radical transparency” of his own. Paul says Peter is two-faced, pretending to be one way with the Gentiles and another way with the Jews. Paul’s not mad because it’s messing with some “ideal meritocracy,” though. Paul’s mad because it seems he’s forgotten the gospel message: that the meritocracy died with Christ:

But if I build up again the very things that I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I am a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I don’t know what sounds crazier, Dalio’s corporate cult or the one, holy catholic and apostolic church. I know which one I fit into, though. Hypocrites, welcome.