What I believe now, part 3: against naive revelation

A core problem is that people believe too strongly that there is a right way to manage society, and this right way is known.

Jeffrey Friedman uses the jargon “naive realism” to describe the state of mind in which you believe that your way of viewing the world is accurate. Because I trip over the word “realism” in this phrase, I prefer to call it “naive revelation.”

Naive revelation is the belief that the truth has been revealed to you. Closely related is the belief that the truth has been revealed to others (experts) that you can identify.

Naive revelation leads to faith that the solutions to social problems are easily found. This in turn leads to a belief that public officials who do not implement these solutions are blind or evil.

Public officials react to their failures by saying that they could solve problems if you give them more power. (Just let us implement lockdowns using science, and we will solve the problem of the virus.) Naive revelationists fall for this all the time.

The opposite of naive revelation is understanding that we face strong imperfection. Most of the time, the best we can do is adopt trial-and-error groping. But naive revelation is the dominant attitude.

Which is another reason that populism is not a solution. If you believe in populism, then you suffer from a form of naive revelation.