Evolutionary social scientist (and also one of the co-founders of Cards Against Humanity of all things), David Pinsof, has one of the most amusing blogs out there, the relatively new “Everything is Bullshit.”
David is fond of reminding us that, well, everything is bullshit. Especially when it comes to the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, in order to make us feel better about who we are.
Morality? Bullshit. It’s just something evolution invented for us to justify our mistreatment of other people post facto.
Religion? Bullshit. It’s just something we use to allow us to believe the universe is run by some kind of cosmic morality.
That we’re interested in interesting facts about useful things? Bullshit. Reading useful facts (like how to repair an air conditioner) is about as interesting to us as reading the phone book. We much prefer trashy fiction, silly movies, and tabloid gossip about celebrities.
That we’re genuinely interested in refined things like art, poetry, and classical music? Bullshit. We’re mostly interested in things like survival, status, sex, food, conquest and avoiding physical suffering. Art, poetry and classical music are just signaling devices we use to get us more status, sex, and all that good stuff.
That we’re rebels, fighting the system? Bullshit. We just say we’re fighting the system, in order to get more status from the system we’re supposedly fighting.
That we’re not interested in what other people think? Bullshit. We just pretend to be that way in order to impress other people, in order to get more of the aforementioned good stuff.
That we love certain highly expensive luxury goods because we admire the high level of refinement and craftsmanship? Bullshit. We buy them because we think they’re status symbols. And so on.
[NB: Status symbols are unstable because they’re always collapsing under the weight of people realizing that they’re indeed status symbols. Everybody stops chasing a certain status symbol if it starts to identify you as a status seeker. That’s why even expensive items go in and out of fashion so quickly.]
David did a really fun interview, over on the Infinite Loops podcast as well, which is definitely worth checking out.
So is everything bullshit, then?
Of course not.
Pinsof’s idea isn’t so much that “Everything is bullshit, so there’s no point in existing.” It’s more like, whatever we might THINK our motivations are, they’re usually just skin deep. What REALLY motivates us goes deeper and is more hidden beneath the surface.
In other words, when we stop asking ourselves and those around us, “why,” we start believing our own bullshit.