Here is one quote that is appropriate for this week's reflection, it comes from the chapter entitled The Fine Art of Baloney Detection in Sagan's book, called The Demon-Haunted World:
One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. The bamboozle has captured us. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.
Have you ever known a pathological liar? I mean a person that when the truth does them just as good, they will choose the lie, anyway? With no vested interest either way, they will simply seek and elect to lie no matter what the outcome may be. They do it so much that after many instances of telling it, they soon begin to believe it to be the truth.
The same holds true in reverse. That is to say, the more some people are lied to, the more they begin to believe the lie is really the truth. And even when confronted with solid proof it was a lie, they are not able to see the reality because the lie has become so deeply rooted into their psyche, it has become a part of their daily thought processes.
The more they are fooled into believing falsehoods, the easier it is to lead them astray and sway them with deceits. The "Bush lied, people died" group comes to mind immediately, when pondering this little quote. Add to this group, a new generation that has bought into the entire "hope and change" mantra. This garbage is still being fed to the people now that the election has been over, for seven months.
How easy is it for those of us who see through the rhetorical fallacies, to convince them that the current government isn't any better? Not very, and it may be doing more damage in a shorter amount of time than any other in history.
If you can see and understand this, you have a strong conceptual understanding of what Mr Sagan was saying in this quote. And it is likely that you are difficult to fool, because like me, you are skeptical at every turn. You see, I have been lied to on many occasions and have responded quite differently than the people I have described.
It doesn't mean that I believe no one, ever. This means that I do not count things I run across newly, as fact, until I verify them with others who know. This is true of every subject. There is a stark difference between that attitude and approach, and one of pure cynicism.