Free Will, If Any

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

In Free Will, If Any, Fred Reed remarks that “One of the funnier illusions of mankind is that our behavior is rational”:

Teenagers begin their political existence by realizing that they understand everything far better than their parents do. They join crusades to retake Jerusalem or to save the world from the International Monetary Fund. They believe they are making principled choices. Their reasons are often persuasive: The young are not necessarily stupid, despite convincing simulations. They can both learn much about the IMF, and weave arguments both subtle and sanctimonious.

But it’s always something, and always at the same age. If it isn’t the IMF, it’s stopping the war in Vietnam, or saving the baby seals, or ending international finance capitalism. These causes may be good ones, but only accidentally. When five hundred generations do the same things, one begins to suspect that the fix is in.

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