Thursday, April 5, 2007

The superstition economy, or how self-deception makes the world go 'round

That might just be the title of my dissertation. Tyler brings up self-deception, just as I'm working out my paper on the role of belief, often delusional belief, in securing trust. Here's the abstract:

Belief constitutes hope, and hope is essential to all entrepreneurial activity, as it enables trust. The critical belief is belief in selflessness, within yourself and others, which is self-deceptive in as much as we are naturally selfish. So it is costly to produce, maintain, and signal a credible commitment to this belief, which religion provides via sacrifice and stigma. Numerous secular institutions compete along the same dimension, and are characterized by belief, sacrifice, and stigma. Namely, government, health care, education, romantic love, and others have to some degree become substitutes for religion. However, they require more sacrifice than religion, due to the problem of monitoring, and in particular, more costly self-deception. Better information improves monitoring, and reduces self-deception. In a world of improving information, this may explain the rise of secularism. However, so long as information is less than perfect, religion will remain, as the existence of God cannot be disproved.

Remember folks, I'm trying to maintain methodological atheism here.

1 comment:

Michael Thomas said...

This post is informative, and the one you link to is very interesting. I am giving you conspicuous approbation for both.