And here, according to Trout, was the reason human beings could not reject ideas because they were bad: ‘Ideas on Earth were badges on friendship or enmity. Their content did not matter. Friends agreed with friends, in order to express friendliness. Enemies disagreed with enemies, in order to express enmity.
The ideas Earthlings held didn’t matter for hundreds of thousands of years, since they couldn’t do much about them anyway. Ideas might as well be badges as anything.
They even had a saying about the futility of ideas: ‘If wishes were horses, begars would ride.’
And then Earthlings discovered tools. Suddenly agreeing with friends could be a form of suicide or worse. But agreements went on, not for the sake of common decency or self-preservation, but for friendliness.
Earthlings went on being friendly, when they should have been thinking instead. And when they built computers to do some thinking for them, they designed them so much for wisdom as for friendliness. So they were doomed. Homicidal beggars could ride.’
Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut