Robin Hanson, (Hanson n.d.)


X isn’t (only) about Y

Related: The purpose of a system is what it does


  • Food isn’t about Nutrition
  • Clothes aren’t about Comfort
  • Bedrooms aren’t about Sleep
  • Marriage isn’t about Romance
  • Talk isn’t about Info
  • Laughter isn’t about Jokes
  • Charity isn’t about Helping
  • Church isn’t about God
  • Art isn’t about Insight
  • Medicine isn’t about Health
  • Consulting isn’t about Advice
  • School isn’t about Learning
  • Research isn’t about Progress
  • Politics isn’t about Policy

The above summarizes much of my contrarian world view. (What else should go on this list?) When I say “X is not about Y,” I mean that while Y is the function commonly said to drive most X behavior, in fact some other function Z drives X behavior more [Realpolitik, Signaling]. I won’t support all these claims here; for today, let’s just talk politics.

[formatting mine]