Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Monday, June 06, 2011

What If There Were No Hypocrisy?

A few years ago, I pointed out that hypocrisy has its good side. It can let you act in accordance with common sense while talking about the problems with common sense:

It might be best to express what your personal analysis says while simultaneously adjusting your private opinions (which might be revealed in your actions) closer to the opinions of the majority. Of course, in that case it makes sense to give verbal support for an unpopular policy (if that's what your reasoning says) while dodging any actual involvement. There are lots of examples all across the political spectrum.

For example, it might make sense to criticize government spending and insulation from the free market while being a tenured professor at a public university … or to defend an unpopular war while dodging the draft … or to criticize racism while moving to an all-white neighborhood.

Let's consider what would happen if there were no hypocrisy.

On the one hand, if everybody who actually agreed with common sense refused to speak against common-sense conclusions … that means Thomas Jefferson could not have written the Declaration of Independence.

On the other hand, if anybody who proclaimed a crackpot opinion acted in accordance with it … that means Noam Chomsky would be a terrorist mastermind.

I don't think we want either. We might hope for only the good parts of common sense to be proclaimed, but I don't think humans are infallible enough for that.


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