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Why people don’t admit they’re wrong

The no longer know how to think critically

Todd Hayden has written an article (“Admit You’re Wrong, Or Die“) in which he observes that people are less able to admit they’re wrong than they used to be.

What is this? I am a pretty old guy, and I do remember a time when people were more flexible. Sure, no one likes to admit they’re wrong, but they actually used to do that, at least occasionally.

He looks for reasons:

I will stick to the idea that much of this resistance to absorbing the evidential truth and changing minds accordingly has to do with a decades-long priming. People in general no longer know up from down—as they blindly navigate the bizarre-o streets of the 2000s. Not much that their senses pick up is automatically, as it used to be, identified accurately.

He blames technology:

Anything our senses are asked to evaluate as evidence is rejected as such, like in a magic show. Nothing can be trusted anymore, until some certain type of authority says it can be. There’s the catch.

He also, briefly and obliquely, touches on education:

If you have nearly no system of determining reality (your senses and common sense), and have never been taught to critically think so you can ascertain truth with a blindfold on, then you are going to be looking for someone to whisper in your ear to describe what it is you are looking at but cannot see. [My emphasis, PwG]

I am currently reading a book by Gary North, his last, called “The Biblical Structure of History”, in which he lays out that modern historians, not basing their study on the presupposition of a creator God, have no way of referencing their perception of the past to anything fixed. Therefore, their history becomes something totally random and relative.

This perception of history became dominant soon after the first world war. It has by now percolated throughout society. The result is that people no longer know what to believe, but still must make their way through society and life. And so they latch on to “some certain type of authority” who tells them what’s up and what’s down, what’s right and what’s wrong. No matter how much it contradicts their “common sense”. And they believe it, and act accordingly.

Article on H.G. Wells

Excerpts as found on lewrockwell.com

This is the sci-fi fantasy of H.G. Wells and is the central theme to everything he wrote including his works of non-fiction. The subject on ways to reduce the world population was a troubling dilemma for Wells…not the reducing part, but the thought that there would be those so foolish as to forbid it.

You see, it was considered by some that the human species had found itself in a crisis by the 1900s. Europe, up until the 17th century had a population size that never exceeded roughly 100 million. But nearly doubled to 180 million in the 18th century, and doubled again to 390 million in the 19thcentury. H.G. Wells wrote of this “the extravagant swarm of new births” as “the essential disaster of the nineteenth century.” (1) Not war, not disease, not starvation, not abject poverty, but population growth was determined as the disaster of an entire century.

[Rothbard wants us to abolish the 20th century. Wells wants us to abolish the 19th. ]

The Wells that we have come to know today started his journey as a young boy winning a scholarship to study at the prestigious Normal School of Science (now called the Royal College of Science). His subject of choice was biology and his teacher, and quickly thereafter mentor, was none other than Thomas Huxley, otherwise known as “Darwin’s bulldog” (his words).

[…]

Through Huxley, Wells’ conception of the nature of humankind was formed with its foundation built upon the philosophies of Charles Darwin and Thomas Malthus.

Because Wells is so very influenced by these men, in fact they form the very basis for his ethics; I thought it apt to share with you a few quotes.

In Thomas Malthus’ “Essay on the Principle of Population” (1799), he wrote:

We should facilitate, instead of foolishly and vainly endeavoring to impede, the operations of nature in producing this mortality; and if we dread the too frequent visitation of the horrid form of famine, we should sedulously encourage the other forms of destruction, which we compel nature to use. In our towns we should make the streets narrower, crowd more people into the houses, and court the return of the plague.” [emphasis added]

In Charles Darwin’s “The Descent of Man” (no not his autobiography! Though he was very much spiritually conflicted with the social consequences of his philosophies…) stated his thoughts on directed breeding as such:

No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man itself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.” [emphasis added]

To the credit of Darwin (though the damage was already done), he included a disclaimer in his “The Descent of Man,” that if humankind were to take upon itself the enforcement of the so-called “forces of nature,” it would be at the cost of our “most noble qualities”, as Darwin states:

Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.” [emphasis added]

[From Darwin’s autobiography:]

I have said that in one respect my mind has changed during the last twenty or thirty years. Up to the age of thirty, or beyond it, poetry of many kinds…gave me great pleasure, and even as a schoolboy I took intense delight in Shakespeare, especially in the historical plays…music [was a] very great delight. But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry: I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. I have also almost lost my taste for…music…My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts, but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive… The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.” (2)

What is the value of life, if in striving for our supposed “survival” we lose our most noble qualities? Why should we sacrifice our best qualities in a humiliating trade-off for a “contingent benefit” and “an overwhelming evil”?

[Wells:]

The ethical system laid out in Wells’ New Republic forbids the further growth of the “People of the Abyss”. In the past, Nature killed these off, and in some cases killing will still be necessary. And we should not be appalled by this task, as per Mr. Wells. Death for such people will mean merely “the end of the bitterness of failure, the merciful obliteration of weak and silly and pointless things.” Clearly the effecting of this will be morally justifiable according to Wells:

The new ethics will hold life to be a privilege and a responsibility, not a sort of night refuge for base spirits out of the void; and the alternative in right conduct between living fully, beautifully and efficiently will be to die. For a multitude of contemptible and silly creatures, fear-driven and helpless and useless, unhappy or hateful happy in the midst of squalid dishonour, feeble, ugly, inefficient, born of unrestrained lusts, and increasing and multiplying through sheer incontinence and stupidity, the men of the New Republic will have little pity and less benevolence.” (5) [emphasis added]

If “the whole tenor of a man’s actions” shows him to be unfit to live, the New Republicans will exterminate him. They will not be squeamish about inflicting death because they will have a fuller sense of the possibilities of life. “They will have an ideal that will make killing worth the while.” The killing, Wells explains, will not be needlessly brutal. “All such killing will be done with an opiate.” Whether this will be administered forcibly or whether the victim will be persuaded to swallow it, he does not reveal. Selected criminals will be destroyed by the same means. The death penalty will also be used to prevent the transmission of genetic disorders. People suffering from genetically transmissible diseases will be forbidden to propagate, and will be killed if they do. (6)

As for the “swarms of black, and brown, and dirty-white, and yellow people”, who do not meet the new needs of efficiency, will, he insists “have to go”. It is “their portion to die out and disappear”. (7)

[…]

Wells wrote of the panic-stricken reaction to the alien invasion in his book “The War of the Worlds”:

If one could have hung that June morning in a balloon in the blazing blue above London, every northward and eastward road running out of the infinite tangle of streets would have seemed stippled black with the streaming fugitives, each dot a human agony of terror and physical distress…Never before in the history of the world had such a mass of human beings moved and suffered together…without order and with a goal, six million people, unarmed and unprovisioned, driving headlong. It was the beginning of the rout of civilization, of the massacre of mankind.” (8) [emphasis added]

I think it no coincidence that our entertainment industry today, so heavily saturated with the influence of Wells’ propaganda, is obsessed with the theme of a post-apocalyptic world, the ever-revolving death game where its avatars are tested on their ability to survive at all cost. Through these adventures, we the audience are brought along and are taught how to feel the thrill of the hunt, the catharsis of the bludgeoning, the release that comes from mayhem. For we are the children of the ultimate revolution… the dawn of the great Purge.

[…]

Of Wells’ vision for a “Modern Religion” he [Julian Huxley] wrote:

…if religion is to develop unifying and directive power in the present confusion of human affairs it must adapt itself to this forward-looking, individuality-analyzing turn of mind; it must divest itself of its sacred historiesThe desire for service, for subordination, for permanent effect, for an escape from the distressful pettiness and mortality of the individual life, is the undying element in every religious system.

The time has come to strip religion right down to that [service and subordination is all Wells wants to keep of the old relic of religion]The explanation of why things are is an unnecessary effort…The essential fact…is the desire for religion and not how it came about…The first sentence in the modern creed must be, not “I believe,” but “I give myself.” ‘ (10) [emphasis added]

And to what are we to “give ourselves” to without any questions asked, but with a blind faith to worship what we are told is the good?

Wells explains it to us thus:

The character of the Open Conspiracy will now be plainly displayed. It will have become a great world movement as wide-spread and evident as socialism or communism. It will have taken the place of these movements very largely. It will be more than they were, it will be frankly a world religion. This large, loose assimilatory mass of movements, groups, and societies will be definitely and obviously attempting to swallow up the entire population of the world and become the new human community.” (11)

The rest of it is here.