Sunday, June 07, 2009

Sunday Reflection - Vulnerability and Illusions

You will rarely find me spending much time discussing Carl Sagan. Astronomy, physics, and astrophysics were not my best subjects, so there's not much I can offer to the mix even if I wanted. But every now and then, someone like Sagan says something that rings true in any other science or discipline. The same can be said for life in general.

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.


8 comments:

Always On Watch said...

The more they are fooled into believing falsehoods, the easier it is to lead them astray and sway them with deceits.

Yes.

You've explained very well why we who see through the nonsense are having so much trouble convincing the deluded, who apparently prefer to stay in that condition.

In my own experience, when I was young and wore those rose-colored glasses (I voted for Jimmy Peanut in my first ballot cast for POTUS), it took the Iranian Revolution and all those Americans held hostage for me to come to my senses. In other words, a shock and a reality check reversed my state of blissful delusion.

Darth Rob said...

Great post. I love Sagan. We can talk about the things that are going on, but those who've already been fooled will not listen until something shocks them into seeing the truth. I fear that shock, what will it take? What is it going to take to shock people out of their trance-like state? How severe will it be and how many lives will it cost? Lot to think about there.

Mustang said...

There is another underlying truth: politicians know this as well as did Dr. Sagan. It is not happenstance that politicians use this reality to gain advantages at the voting booth; it seems to me that human nature aside, there is very little civic virtue in a system that rewards the people’s representatives for their corrupt behavior.

As one reads about politics in the Roman Republic, we find that the behavior we abhor today has been with us for a very long time. It is a pity we are incapable of improving the art of manure distribution so that the people retain their power over the servants.

If anyone were to ask, “Why has our educational system evolved into a socialist institution,” I would have to refer them to your article as the best possible answer; the best possible illustration would be Ă˜bama's election to the presidency.

LASunsett said...

//In my own experience, when I was young and wore those rose-colored glasses (I voted for Jimmy Peanut in my first ballot cast for POTUS)//

Do not dwell on this, it happens to the best of us all. I voted for Carter and once Mustang found out, he has ridiculed me mercilessly.

I hope he treats you better than he has me.

LASunsett said...

//Lot to think about there.//

It certainly is a lot to think about.

Imagine how frustrating it will be, once something does happen and we who saw it coming will have to comfort those who were fooled.

LASunsett said...

//As one reads about politics in the Roman Republic, we find that the behavior we abhor today has been with us for a very long time.//

Amazing, isn't it? We can easily read and see the same behaviors from that era. Yet, we cannot look at what became of that very same era and use it as a frame of reference for today.

Past outcomes are important indicators as to whether or not a given method will yield the desired outcome. If it's the same method that failed before, you'd think the people would be smart enough to recognize it.

But hey, that's just me thinking out loud again.

Pasadena Closet Conservative said...

The Libs have been bamboozled by Obama since day one and continue to swoon at the mere mention of his name. Accountability is not an option.

LASunsett said...

//The Libs have been bamboozled by Obama since day one and continue to swoon at the mere mention of his name.//

And many of the moderates, too. If it weren't for them voting for BHO, we'd be bitching about JSM.