Against Unapt Folk Theories

To defray his student expenses, my friend gets a part-time job “fighting hypocognition”. It’s not as glamorous as it might sound. He spends his once-free hours of the afternoon standing in the shopping arcades downtown, handing out new and important but not yet widely accepted ideas to people there. These ideas are often startling and strange, even frightening to most of these urbanites. Such ideas often clash with the ideas people already possess, those which have become intimate fixtures in their lives. Not surprisingly, many passersby just ignore him, or accept an idea nonchalantly only to drop it into a trashcan several blocks away. On most days, the ideas are at best taken out of superficial courtesy, then crammed into shopping bags amidst groceries or on-sale department store apparel.

“Yeah, it kind of sucks to see these ideas treated that way, tossed aside or just plain rejected,” he laments while turning the compost. “But occasionally you get those few who are actually receptive,” he adds. “We’ve gotten some more part-timers like me that way. Which makes it worthwhile, but it’s still hard to take all the apathy out there. It really makes you feel like we’re never going to get anywhere.”

“Man, that’s a bummer,” I sympathize. “But what about working on ideas? Isn’t there the idea construction part to this too? Couldn’t you do that instead? It seems like it would be more engaging, less disheartening.“

“That’s definitely where a lot of the interesting stuff happens. There’s a huge workshop where ideas are conceived and developed. But doing that kind of stuff is a serious time commitment. It’s beyond what I can do as a part-time job. It’s a full-time job and then some,” my friend explains. “ Hopefully I’ll get into that, eventually. Until then, I’ve got to do what I can to help out. Getting the ideas out there is very important too.”

“Yeah, that’s definitely true. I mean, if you weren’t part-timing, I’d be a hopeless hypocogniac. You’re my man on the inside.”

“Dude, your support is greatly appreciated. Speaking of which, here’s some of the new stuff they’ve been hard at work on lately. A bit rough around the edges but otherwise quite solid and substantial,” he tells me, handing me a hefty bag of ideas.

“Awesome. I’ve been looking forward to these. The last batch made a lot of sense, and I could finally get rid of the contingent-worth folk theory.”

“Dude, right on! That folk theory is way past its time. What did you do with it, just out of curiosity?”

“Well, after poking a bunch of holes into it, I thought I’d recycle the material and turn it into a something interesting. So I combined it with other antiquated ideas to form a kind of humorous, absurdist daydream. You’ll see it next time you come by my apartment.”

“Nice, nice. You should see what I’ve done with my remnants of Neo-Post-Neoliberal Economics,” he says, nodding. “I’ve made a nice conversation piece out of them.”

Knowing well how conversations with him – especially those involving economic theories – have a tendency move steadily towards ranting, my curiosity about this latest rehashing of his is subdued by reservations.

But not fully.

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