Sunday, 4 May 2014

Death, taxes and wrong ideas

One thing the internet highlights very well is the frustrating problem of wrong ideas. Thanks to the web, the inexhaustible reservoir of human drivel is now impossible to miss. Not only that, but as with the Lernaean Hydra, cutting off one head seems to create two more.

Good ideas are constrained by reality, but wrong ideas are constrained by nothing whatever. That’s why they are so eternally popular with blockheads and charlatans.

Yet oddly enough we need some wrong ideas to dream up better ones. Obvious enough I suppose, be in the hustle and bustle of daily life it is easy to downplay the undoubted social value of having a smattering of wrong ideas.

Unfortunately, wrong ideas have a much greater and entirely pernicious value to those who make political, commercial or even personal use of their infinite variety.

Yet even here wrong ideas tell us something, even if it is no more than a clue to the motives of those who use them. Other people I mean - because we never have wrong ideas ourselves do we? We would never use a wrong idea for personal gain would we?

So the real problem with wrong ideas is not so much that they are wrong, but that they are so conveniently numerous for promoting vested interests and comfort zones. 

Yet surely free speech ought to expose even the most politically useful wrong ideas to the corrective influence of...

Of what?

More wrong ideas? Do the infinite resources of Drivel always send their Non Sequitur Cavalry galloping over the hill in the nick of time? Well yes. Blockheads and charlatans cannot possibly run out of wrong ideas.

Along with death and taxes they appear to be a fact of life.

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