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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Russ Roberts on reality tunnels

Russ Roberts

He doesn't use the phrase "reality tunnels," but I thought Russ Roberts explored the concept nicely in his piece, "The World Turned Upside Down (and what to do about it)."


The world is a complex place and it’s hard to know what is going on. So we grope around in the dark trying to make sense of what is happening and what explains what we observe. We manage to convince ourselves that we are seeking the truth and we have found it. Trump is evil or Hillary is evil. Black people are the victims of a conspiracy by white people to oppress them or white people are being marginalized as their majority status dwindles. The country is on the wrong track. (Everyone believes this one). And subtlety is not our strong suit as human beings. We like simple stories without too much nuance.

So we manage to convince ourselves that the evidence speaks so loudly, so emphatically, that we have no choice but to declare our allegiance to a particular tribe as a result of that evidence. The red tribe. Or the blue one. Or the white one. Or the black one. It rarely crosses our minds to notice that causation is probably going the opposite direction — the tribe we are in. 

Roberts is the author of How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life and "co-creator of the Keynes-Hayek rap videos."

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