In January I complained that Robert Kurzban’s book on hypocrisy focused most on an accident theory, namely: The human mind consists of many specialized units. … While these modules sometimes work together seamlessly, they don’t always, resulting in impossibly contradictory beliefs.
Awesome post (again) ... loopholes not only illustrate Hanson's point about hypocrisy; they are also an effective and "legalized" way of gaming the system
Forgive my comment in another thread, where I accused Hanson of ignoring Katz. But you don't appreciate the full force of Katz's argument. You write:
Katz doesn’t even appear to consider the possibility I favor, that we are often designed to be hypocritical, to appear to support and follow social norms while actually evading them.
Of course he doesn't consider your theory or any number of alternative psychological theories that might explain these legal tensions. His point is that such "perversity" can be explained as logically inevitable, making your explanation otiose. To ask him to consider other explanations is like considering psychological explanations for the voting paradox.
An interesting training for thinking along these lines is to work on a classified project. I started having in my conscious mind only the "information," never the tags as to where it came from, which codewords i could say in which contexts, whom I could speak to about what, etc. It actually didn't take long before my brain just started tagging and tracking the tags of the classification of the bits of info, and I could converse appropriately in various contexts.
The remarkable thing to me about human hypocrisy is that it is (I think) almost completely unconscious. Hypocrisy is something you must try to point out to someone, and they will resist (I think) seeing it in themselves. The underly ing reason is that the purpose of the conscious mind is primarily to gain advantage in an environment dominated by other conscious minds. I don't eat more by learning how to kill a tiger, I eat more by learnig how to make the hundreds of people around me feel like feeding me. (Giving the butcher money is a way to make him feel like feeding me.) To expect something whos purpose is to get you fed and laid to just coincidentally also be accurate is to overconstrain a system in a way it absolutely does not need to be constrained. j
So some of us have this hobby of trying to understand this stuff. We circle our rational minds back in on themselves looking for these things. To the extent that this behavior is not particularly better than its alternative at getting us fed and laid, we shouldn't be surprised that it is a minority pursuit.
I still like the idea of Hypocrisy as a form of memonic warfare.
I'm reminded of Steven Pinker on innuendo and indirect speech acts.
Do you mean honesty with oneself, honesty with others, or both?
Exaggeration, omission, selectively emphasizing principles, process, or text as the case may demand, is in some ways dishonest. I think the key is people see a greater good and like to think they aren't 'liars', but it's all a matter of degree and context. If you are really smart, you can find a different set of assumptions the make a prior inconsistency consistent. Honesty, like bias, is impossible to eliminate, though at extremes clearly destructive.
"here Katz lays out his accident theory in a journal article"Was that supposed to contain a link to the article?
It's funny. Leo Katz guest blogged this topic on The Volokh Conspiracy, which I ready regularly.
I had exactly the same reaction you did. In fact, I couldn't even understand his explanation at first. Then I realized that I was making the mistake of projecting that everyone else also reads Overcoming Bias.