Robin Hanson has a thesis about homo hypocrtitus, our inherent nature to say one thing while believing another

Most people like to make fun of and laugh at nerds. Why? You might assume we like to laugh at people with low abilities, to emphasize our superiority. But there are plenty of folks with mostly low abilities across the board, and they mostly aren’t considered funny. So why are nerds, who at least have some strong skills, especially funny?

As I’ve hinted at before, and will elaborate more on later, I think the essence of humor is our sheer joy at playing homo hypocritus well. We just love to see the juxtaposition of two communication levels, an overt and a covert one, especially when this helps “us” take advantage of “them.”

This hypocrisy is central in things like the budget debate. We are all looking at roughly the same numbers. Yet, we have vastly different preferences. Moreover, the preference of the intellectual elite to curb health care expenditures through death panels or vouchers is sharply at odds with public desires. Yet, the elite espouses democratic values, which make the will of the public supreme.

All of this creates a seething pool of hypocrisy. In response, there is a tendency to mock the other side and at times the voters as unserious. This may be part of playing homo hypocritus.

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