Wednesday, December 14, 2022

the complexities of reality...................

To grasp the complexities of reality, we do need to use general words and concepts.  But these have often, as one might out it, escaped empirical control and grown into obstacles against understanding: "brain blindfolds"—and even mechanisms for stifling, or at least discouraging, real debate.  Ideas insufficiently connected to reality have always been part of the human effort to understand. 

     These ideas are, of course, most troublesome when they present themselves as virtually indisputable; as idols, or at least icons.  As Robert Louis Stevenson wrote many years ago, "Man is a creature who lives not upon bread alone, but primarily by catchwords."  Part of the problem is that the catchwords of current speech or thought are usually supported, offstage, by more complex, superficially impressive wordplay.

     Some of the vital information available to us has been distorted—some, indeed, has been actively falsified on a very large scale—by groups, or states, with what by now should be understandable motivations for concealment.  But this is only one example, or product, of a broader misuse of the human mind.

-Robert Conquest, The Dragons of Expectations:  Reality and Delusion in the Course of History

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