Monday, September 19, 2005

Cynicism analyzed.

Tyler Cowen, in Marginal Revolution, finds gold in Robin Hanson's The Cynic's Conundrum. Here's a choice nugget:

Interpreted as extreme claims, such as that people only care about low motives, or that high functions have no influence on social institutions, cynicism is clearly false. But interpreted in a more graded fashion, such as the fraction of behavior explained by low motives or functions, or the difference between claimed motives and real motives, cynical beliefs clearly tend to contain a lot of truth.

The conclusion:

... while hypocrisy and low motives probably are in fact much more widespread than most people acknowledge, most people are well-advised to pretend that they believe otherwise.