But Is It True? – The Research of Aaron Wildavsky Twenty Years Later

For those of us who harbour “absolute certainty” about anything – in particular about issues with little or conflicting evidence.

“Most of the greatest evils that man has inflicted upon man have come through people feeling quite certain about something which, in fact, is false.” Bertrand Russell

Watts Up With That?

Guest opinion: Dr. Tim Ball

In his fascinating 1950 book “Unpopular Essays,” mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote that

“Most of the greatest evils that man has inflicted upon man have come through people feeling quite certain about something which, in fact, is false.”

He explained how the nature of people made such inflictions possible.

The demand for certainty is one which is natural to man, but is nevertheless an intellectual vice. So long as men are not trained to withhold judgment in the absence of evidence, they will be led astray by cocksure prophets, and it is likely that their leaders will be either ignorant fanatics or dishonest charlatans. To endure uncertainty is difficult, but so are most of the other virtues.

Over the last fifty years the evil inflicted involved exploitation of a new and necessary idea – environmentalism and its subset global warming.

The “cock-sure prophets” are…

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “But Is It True? – The Research of Aaron Wildavsky Twenty Years Later

  1. Uitstekende artikel,wat weereens wys hoe maklik ons deur propaganda en verkeerde inligting,tot histerie gedryf kan word en dan staatmaak op diegene in beheer,om vir ons te dink en ons te “red” met natuurlik groot koste wat uit alleman se sak kom.

  2. Baie interessant en leersaam. The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda – Aaron Wildavsky (aangehaal uit die artikel). Ek het sommer lus om “Amen” te sê.

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