Thoughts on economics and liberty

We are doomed as humans to live in a perpetual state of hysteria and insanity

We suffer from a fundamental human condition: we are all easily scared. We are easy to scare and difficult to unscare.

This is not news. Thousands of years ago, the Indian Upanishads described how a stick can sometimes look like a snake. When bush-walking the Yarra, I keep my eyes peeled for black, poisonous snakes (my wife has actually seen a few – she’s part of a walking club). I’ve not yet sighted any such snake but I often find that my brain treats with suspicion the curved black tree branches lying on the ground.

We frighten easily: that’s our defensive response evolved over millions of years. And it is more rapid and stronger than our rational response. It doesn’t matter whether we have four PhDs. We will still remain human.

That’s why billions of people across the world have fallen for Jinping’s fake videos and gone into hysterical panic and most still remain in a state of insanity.

And that’s also why when an “expert” tells us that GMO will kill us, or that the Earth will roast from man-made climate change, or that covid vaccines will kill us all with ADE, we tend to believe such people instantly. Refuting them is much harder and can take months, if not years of hard work.

Julian Simon wrote about many such scares in his book, The Ultimate Resource. Except for a (very) few, most scares are false. In many cases the product/issue of concern is not entirely benign (e.g. DDT, nuclear power) but its overall benefit far exceeds the cost it may impose on society.

In the end, hysteria and fear are our natural human condition so we had better get used to it. This situation – where we live our life in a perpetual state of madness – is going to get more and more common in this age of social media and rapid dissemination of news.






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Sanjeev Sabhlok

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