We’re all hypocrites. Why? Hypocrisy is the natural state of the human mind.
Robert Kurzban shows us that the key to understanding our behavioral inconsistencies lies in understanding the mind’s design. The human mind consists of many specialized units designed by the process of evolution by natural selection. While these modules sometimes work together seamlessly, they don’t always, resulting in impossibly contradictory beliefs, vacillations between patience and impulsiveness, violations of our supposed moral principles, and overinflated views of ourselves.
This modular, evolutionary psychological view of the mind undermines deeply held intuitions about ourselves, as well as a range of scientific theories that require a “self” with consistent beliefs and preferences. Modularity suggests that there is no “I.” Instead, each of us is a contentious “we”–a collection of discrete but interacting systems whose constant conflicts shape our interactions with one another and our experience of the world.
In clear language, full of wit and rich in examples, Kurzban explains the roots and implications of our inconsistent minds, and why it is perfectly natural to believe that everyone else is a hypocrite.
Watch a video here.
Read a New Yorker piece here.
Certainty is demonic. Hypocrisy is omni-present. Politics is religion. Religion is politics.
“Even the well informed tend to have very short attention spans when it comes to evangelicals. Many equate evangelicals with fundamentalists or the Christian right when only a minority belong to either group. Others dismiss them as a marginal group doomed to extinction with the process of modernization. In fact evangelicals compose nearly a quarter of the (US) population.” (p.2)
Those founding Puritans continue to have an influence on the culture and particularly the politics in the USA. The clash between fundamentalism and modernism erupted after World War I and affected all Protestant denominations. The core beliefs of the fundamentalists seem to be: what the Bible says is true and inerrant (particularly, of course, the New Testament); abortion is categorically evil; homosexuality is also evil and same sex marriage an abomination. As Fitzgerald points out “For them the first chapter of Genesis is to be interpreted literally. Even today two thirds of evangelicals say they believe that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.” (p. 625) These beliefs are manifest in the opposition to the SCOTUS decision banning prayer and Bible readings in public schools, almost all of the civil rights movement, the 1960s protests against the war in Vietnam, and the Roe v. Wade decision.
Read the review.
1. a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess.
2. a pretense of having some desirable or publicly approved attitude.
3. an act or instance of hypocrisy.
If you have ever watched The Daily Show with Jon Stewart you will know about hypocrisy. Stewart periodically skewers Fox News by juxtaposing claims made by the networks commentators followed by earlier comments in complete contrast which contradict the former. Watching him do it is funny but also sad. How can a person live with herself/himself while saying one thing one day and contradicting it the next?
Is hypocrisy universal? We all (almost all) have two hands – do we all also exhibit hypocrisy? We know politicians, used car salesmen, and talking heads on Fox are hypocrites, but surely ethicists trained in moral philosophy are free of this all so human trait!