Celia Green (was Re: Are Beliefs Like Clothes?)

Mark Grant (mark@unicorn.com)
Fri, 25 Jul 1997 17:38:12 +0000

On Mon, 21 Jul 1997, Robin Hanson wrote:

> Amusing perhaps, but I find it very hard to take these seriously as
> explanations of human behavior.

Sure; I think her writing is over the top and motivated largely by her
desire to be recognized as a genius. However, I think the basic idea is
sound and it's a fun rant. Of course she's British, so it may well be more
valid in British society than others.

> It is not obvious to me, for example,
> that people want to ignore reality,

Well I think that one look at the turnover of the movie, TV and publishing
industry would make that clear... but her main idea is that the human race
values other people far more than knowledge about reality; most people
would rather be alpha-human in their little social group than learn and
create, and that even most of those who start out desiring to do the
opposite learn in time to follow the crowd. In my experience this is
generally true.

> that efficiency precludes
> interesting emotions,

She's not saying that, exactly; as I read her she means that sane people
would rather be able to say that they really want to do something but that
they can't do it because society prevents them, than to actually go out
and do it, and risk failing in the process. Again I'd say this is
generally true in British society but less so in American.

> or that sane society is boring.

Try living in a socialist country for a while... or at least a more
socialist country than America.

> And I find the
> idea that wars are made to divert people from research rather
> implausible.

Hmm, I think it's somewhat implausible but wars have often seemed to be
fought to take people's minds off of reality. For example the Falklands or
the Gulf War, both of which greatly improved the politicians' popularity
because people were able to forget just how bad they were doing at home.


P.S. I'm off to Canada for a week or so, and my laptop's staying at home
this time so I won't be able to answer any mail for a while.

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