Innocence Versus Insight

Robin Hanson wrote an interesting two page essay on "Innocence Versus Insight". Here’s the summary:

There seems to be a fundamental tradeoff between innocence and insight. This tradeoff occurs at both personal and social levels. Adam and Eve are said to have lost their place in Eden because they ate from the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil;" their knowledge cost them their innocence and comfort. Our insight often comes at a similar price.

Several practical examples follow. Interesting!

I found the essay from Robin’s post on the Overcoming Bias blog. He notes that many people dismiss random and odd behavior such as decorating, blogging, and joking as unrelated to our mandate for survival and reproduction — ignoring obvious explanations like signaling theory  — but the fact remains that "while our behavior may be far from optimal, there is surely a detailed correspondence between our behavior and the functions they perform." Functional is not necessarily optimal.

By the way, speaking of those always-interesting George Mason folk, don’t forget to pre-order Tyler Cowen’s new book and get special access to his secret blog. Cowen, in the tradition of Freakonomics, promises to help us "Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist". It should be terrific.

1 comment on “Innocence Versus Insight
  • Robin said:

    “For example, the young often know about the attitudes the old have on average toward marriage, careers, nations, and so on.”

    This is nonsense. How do you prove what the young know about the “average” attitudes of the old?

    There’s no such thing as these “average attitudes.”.

    I think Robin’s reasoning could use a little seasoning.

    I suggest a strenuous application of cold sea water.;-)

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