Making Something Social Destroys the Truth of It
Naval: Making something social destroys the truth of it because social groups need consensus to survive—otherwise they fight and can’t get along—and consensus is all about compromise, not truth-seeking.
Science—at least the natural sciences—was this unique discipline where you could have an individual truth-seeking on behalf of the rest of society. Other individuals verify that they did, indeed, have the best current model of how reality works, and then that could be spread out through inventions to the rest of society.
But the social sciences are this virus that crept into academia and have taken over. Social sciences are completely corrupted.
First, they need to appeal to society for funding, so they are politically motivated. Then, they themselves are influenced in society because the studies and models are used to drive policy. So, of course, that ends up corrupted as well. Now even the natural sciences are under attack from the social sciences, and they’re becoming more and more socialized.
The more groupthink you see involved, the farther from the truth you actually are. You can have an harmonious society while still allowing truth seekers within the society to find truth and to find the means to alter and improve reality for the entire group.
Historically, most of the scientific breakthroughs didn’t come from scientific institutions. The big ones came from individual natural philosophers who were very independent thinkers who were reviled in their time, often persecuted, who fought against the rest of society on the basis of their truths. And it took decades or centuries—often after their deaths—before those truths were accepted.
A lot of these academic theories don’t actually stand up either to replication—if you look at what’s going on in psychology—or even to reality.
Rory Sutherland has this great quote where he said something along the lines of, “Marketing is the science of knowing what economists are wrong about.” Economists assume perfectly rational behavior, but humans are obviously wetware biological creatures, so you can hack around that using marketing.
Nassim Taleb would go even further and say that they assume false rationality. Humans are pricing in the risk of ruin, the risk of going to zero, and the academics are making mistakes about ergodic reasoning. They’re assuming that what’s good for the ensemble is good for the individual, and it’s not.
An individual doesn’t want to go to zero—doesn’t want to die—so they will not take risks of ruin and they will not take risks of bankruptcy; whereas a group should be willing to take a risk of bankruptcy because that’s spread out among so many different people.