Re: Are Beliefs Like Clothes?

Robin Hanson (
Mon, 21 Jul 1997 13:29:25 -0700 (PDT)

Mark Grant writes:
>From Celia Green, "The Human Evasion":
> "Society begins to appear much less unreasonable when one realizes its true
>function. It is there to help everyone to keep their minds off reality. ...
>Some degree of inefficiency is essential to create interesting
>opportunities for emotional reaction. ...
>And it is the chief defect of sane society that it is boring. ...
>war ... is intended to divert people's minds before they
>become so bored that they take to some impersonal kind of aggressive
>activity - such as research, or asceticism, or inspiration, or
>something discreditable of that kind." ...
>It's an amusing book,

Amusing perhaps, but I find it very hard to take these seriously as
explanations of human behavior. It is not obvious to me, for example,
that people want to ignore reality, that efficiency precludes
interesting emotions, or that sane society is boring. And I find the
idea that wars are made to divert people from research rather
implausible. Perhaps these quotes don't do the book justice.

Robin D. Hanson