Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.
The American Founders drew on an astonishingly wide range of historical sources and an appropriately jaundiced view of human nature to craft the world’s most stable and free republic. They invoked lessons learned from the Greek city-states, the Carolingian Dynasty, and the Ottoman Empire in the Constitution’s defense. And they assumed that the new nation’s citizens would themselves be versed in history and political philosophy. Indeed, a closer knowledge among the electorate of Hobbes and the fragility of social order might have prevented the more brazen social experiments that we’ve undergone in recent years. Ignorance of the intellectual trajectory that led to the rule of law and the West’s astounding prosperity puts those achievements at risk.
It is usually futile to try to talk facts and analysis to people who are enjoying a sense of moral superiority in their ignorance.
Nothing is as terrible to see as ignorance in action.
Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts.
It often happens that the universal belief of one age of mankind — a belief from which no one was, nor without an extraordinary effort of genius and courage could at that time be free — becomes to a subsequent age so palpable an absurdity, that the only difficulty then is to imagine how such a thing can ever have appeared credible.
Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.
At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to state this or that or the other, but it is “not done” … Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.
To see what is in front of one’s nose requires a constant struggle.
It has been said the greatest volume of sheer brainpower in one place occurred when Jefferson dined alone.