[FoRK] Why Pretend?

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Mon Apr 26 13:55:36 PDT 2010

On 4/26/10 9:52 AM, Jeff Bone wrote:
> Hanson:
>    http://www.overcomingbias.com/2010/04/why-pretend.html
> The homo hypocritus hypothesis I’ve been exploring lately is that large fraction of modern behavior is explained by our evolved capacities and tendencies to pretend to do X while really doing Y.  For each such X and Y, this raises a number of basic questions about how such a situation could be an equilibrium:
Great subject.  There are many reasons for believing and encouraging Y 
while doing X, some reasonable, some outdated, some simply 
counterproductive.  I think I have accurate stories for many such 

One major motivation is that society sometimes strives to identify and 
project an ideal.  By jointly believing, or projecting belief at least, 
of that ideal, they are creating social pressure toward that ideal, even 
if it is unattainable, unstable, and something no one is really doing 
for more than an instant.  The Leave-It-To-Beaver 50's seems like this.  
This is a standard paradigm of religious doctrine enforcement, although 
there is various levels of realism.

Another instance of this is where such an ideal or fiction is beneficial 
to certain people in certain circumstances.  The clearest examples are 
indoctrination of teenagers and young adults: We want them to develop in 
a healthy way with minimal trauma & disease and maximal satisfaction and 
productivity.  Most of the accepted sexual and behavioral norms have 
been centered around the implicit theories of what would lead to success 
or failure.  The efforts to hide adult things from even adults, let 
alone teenagers, is an attempt to keep them from disaster otherwise 
expected.  Realistically, there *is* an emotional, decision making, and 
social skill capability progression that doesn't end at 18 or 21 but 
continues for decades.  Usually, only after one or more long-term 
relationships, raising children, and overcoming various trials and 
tribulations do you reach the later levels of maturity.  Society at 
large seems, in many ways, to project a model of adulthood frozen at the 
newlywed stage.

This is one reason that many divorced women with children forgo 
relationships and sex for years: they are constrained by the perceived 
need to raise their children without the (perceived) 
confusing-to-children complications and potential inelegance of adult 

As this author recalls [1]: 'HL Mencken wrote that “A Puritan is someone 
who is deathly afraid that someone, somewhere, is having fun.”'  In some 
cases, people may be earnest about those beliefs.  In others, they try 
to get others to follow an ideal that they cannot or choose not to live 
up to.  In some cases, this may be done out of fear. [1]  In others, it 
is some form of peer-pressure feedback.  This is especially true with 
religion.  Even in small-town Ohio where I grew up, "peer-pressure 
theism" was quite obvious.  I.e., people were shamed into believing, 
resulting in many who felt they had to act out a belief that they didn't 

Or, perhaps more frequently, people in a certain stage of life impose an 
ideal on people in another stage of life, perhaps unrealistically or 
even harmfully, that they did not endure when they were in that stage.[2]


[2] http://www.texaschapbookpress.com/magellanslog8/babypuritans.htm
 > 4. Denial.
 > Prejudiced? Intolerant? Hypocritical? Me??!!? No way. Why, I vote the 
straight (choose one) Democratic/ Libertarian/ Socialist/ Green ticket. 
And my neighbors only stay in the Republican Party to open it up to new 
ideas like "compassionate conservatism."
 > What's the result of such massive, hypocritical repression? You don't 
see much result on the smooth surface of the lives of the Baby Puritans. 
They've got their stock options, their swankiendas, their Range Rovers. 
But something deeply, wrenchingly tragic seems to be happening with 
their children.
 > Nationally, globally, we're baffled by the violent acting out of the 
children. You want proof for my harsh analysis of the Baby Puritans? I 
give you Columbine High School.
 > Children raised in a dark, cold, windowless prison--which adults 
persist in seeing as a comfortable, airy, well-equipped home full of 
"freedom" and "love"--will inevitably be driven to the most extreme 
possible behavior where their violent actions scream:
 > "STOP IT!
 > Stop the lying!
 > Stop the fake-love!
 > You may be fooling the world,
 > but you're not fooling me!"
 > Maybe a more accurate name for these ignorant, intolerant, 
hypocritical, denying mommies and daddies would be FYBs: Fascist Yuppie 
Boomers. FYB. Pronounced "fib." Lying to themselves, lying to their 
 > Those who live by the fib, die by the fib.


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