Sunday, June 29, 2008


Only rare human beings think for themselves. Most of us choose to follow along with the predominant crowd. In the state of nature and probably also in a developed society, this is adaptive behavior in the short run, but it risks a lemming plunge together over an easily seen cliff.

Peer influence is a tremendous prejudicial force in human groups (and groups of other animals, as well, I'm sure). It leads to the Gloucester 17, to obesity in relationship cohorts, to religious beliefs, to the acceptance of bald political lies.

If your friends are fabulists, their most outrageous lies become the received wisdom of your peer group, and it's afterward unshakable, despite the only evidence for it being rumor deriving from very unauthoritative sources such as "some guy" or an email or a posting on the Internet with circular or non-existent sourcing.

People believe what they want to believe, what they choose to believe. Only a precious few compare their beliefs to their experience and reject their false beliefs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I believe that McCain served his country but that does not make him any more able to be commander in chief than anyone else. Just because you have had surgery does not mean that you are able to conduct surgery. I think that McCain using his time in the armed forces as some kind of justification for his being prepared to be commander in chief is not credible.