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TRUTH AND ILLUSION
1570. Humbug -- a collection of agreeable lies -- lubricates the social machinery. It's a Goldilocks thing: too little, and the truth is unpleasant and depressing; too much -- no one can get a grip on anything, and people start yearning for reality.
1534. Correlation wears the convincing cape of causation; only careful fingerprinting and an examination of blood samples will reveal the truth.
1518. The Darwinian message to unsuccessful countries and cultures is harsh: adapt, or die. The civilized, humanitarian approach sees innocent misery requiring assistance. Truth is reliably contradictory.
1500. In the battle between pleasant lies, and unpleasant facts -- the lies usually win.
1467. The first requirement is to discover the truth. Then it is necessary to determine which lies are necessary, which are dangerous, and which are merely advantageous.
1457. Beware perfection's dream forlorn;
There grows no rose without its thorn.
1459. "Diversity is our strength" -- a phrase used by politicians in the belief that, with sufficient repetition, an attractive lie will acquire the lustre of unimpeachable truth.
1388. The robe of sanctimony -- resplendent at the front -- tattered and worn at the back.
1381. If something looks like baloney, slices like baloney, smells like baloney, and tastes like baloney – my bet is that it is baloney.
1350. Freedom of religion is the freedom to engage in fantasy. To give special deference to religious ideas -- because they claim divine approval -- is to express a preference for fantasy over fact.
1349. Determining the limitations of freedom -- while necessary -- is fraught with difficulty. In the modern era, the freedom of fantasy often trumps the freedom of fact. The self-congratulatory all-inclusive tolerance of unproven, unsuccessful -- and ultimately destructive ideas -- is encouraged; those who wish to point out sobering facts are seldom welcomed.
1339. The term ‘denier’ always suggests a denial of truth -- even though it may equally refer to a denial of falsehood. Proud deniers of popular misconceptions, when accused, should immediately admit to being ‘rejectionists’ -- those who oppose fantasies, falsehoods, and calculated deceptions.
1333. An enduring truth -- stoutly resisted because of its paradoxical nature -- is this: the mindless, determined pursuit of a "virtuous" ideal invariably leads to vice.
1310. Ideals -- ideas of perfection -- are inherently unforgiving and coercive: they contain the seeds of oppression. Dangerously -- they sound good -- their veneer of virtue seduces the ignorant, the unwary, and the well-intentioned.
1308. People who insist on seeing the world as it "should" be -- rather than as it is -- choose a dangerous path. They will eventually discover the curious but persistent relationship between real chasms and imaginary bridges.
1259. It is surprising how many people trade in their bullshit detectors for illusion receptors.
1255. Every ideal is blind to reality. The abyss of truth is remarkably patient.
1208. Truth will always be ignored if it challenges a cherished illusion.
1197. Propaganda is only needed when the truth isn't good enough.
1196. The United Nations is a whited sepulchre -- a veneer of noble intentions covering a rank corruption beneath.
1188. The truth will not win any popularity contests. It cannot compete with comforting illusions.
1172. The great revolutionary truth that hardly dares to speak its name: some things are better than others.
1171. We live in a time of universal deceit -- and there is little appetite for revolution. "Equality" is the pleasant lie which underlies multiculturalism, socialism, and, indeed, political correctness itself.
1154. Socialism promises the ideal of equality; it fails to note two pertinent truths: equality is not actually attainable in the real world -- and the attempt to achieve the impossible is invariably oppressive and coercive.
1153. When the rallying cry is "equality," it takes a very brave man to resist. There is little to be gained from denying cherished illusions.
1137. It is the unpleasant -- but necessary -- task of the curmudgeon to tell people that what they most desire is either improbable or impossible.
1087. Thoughtless human beings have it so easy! (An irreverent addendum to #1086)
1086. To determine what is true, and what is false, to judge what improvements are achievable, and what dreams are idle or even dangerous -- these are the difficult tasks which challenge all thoughtful human beings.
1072. Separating truth from lies is a never-ending task. Generally speaking, anything disappointing and unpopular is the truth.
1062. It is fashionable to proclaim -- especially in the interests of compassion and tolerance -- that unequal things are equal. In this manner, stupidity is enhanced, while the reality remains unchanged.
1061. Voting for politicians who spout optimistic nonsense is like buying a lottery ticket: you can live in a fantasy of hope until the numbers are drawn. Then it's back to reality.
1028. When ideas -- whether religious or secular -- are considered too "blasphemous" to be expressed -- we know that somebody's illusion is being threatened.
979. The more cherished the illusion, the more reviled is the teller of truth.
946. Truth is like a skeleton in the closet -- it will rattle its way out eventually. (A shortened version of # 659)
932. In a world yet to be discovered, the truth is seen without distortion -- and without despair.
896. Speaking the truth is often seen as subversive and revolutionary -- because it usually contradicts the cherished illusions: that equality and harmony are the birthright of mankind.
871. The human tendency is to live by myth and illusion when possible, by facts when necessary.
836. If only it were possible to determine the point at which an exaggeratedly optimistic view of reality -- a benign and encouraging hopefulness -- is tragically transformed into dangerous delusion!
822. The real truth and the preferred truth are seldom in the same ballpark; often they are separated by whole galaxies of wishful thinking.
808. The truth is no pushover -- in exchange for each hard diamond light of reality -- you have to give up a soft pearl of illusion. At some point -- it's different for everyone -- people prefer pearls to diamonds.
792. People love to hear that unicorns gambol on the slopes of the Big Rock Candy Mountain, where the handouts grow on bushes, and the lemonade -- like the lunch -- is always free. Thus are they seduced into stupidity.
768. Certainty -- so often a façade of rouge and perfume found in the embrace of stupidity.
767. Certainty -- the favourite disguise of falsehood.
762. Illusions may be necessary -- but it is important to distinguish between the harmlessly comforting and the dangerously stupid.
758. The art of life lies in choosing the least dangerous illusions.
750. If what we assert is true, it may be remembered; if what we say is in error, it will be rejected and forgotten -- but this, too, is an advance for the cause of truth.
739. Illusion is the great conjurer: it transforms the past; it enhances the future. In the present, it often wears the disguise of truth.
734. Wise and fortunate is the man versed in illusions -- who can distinguish between the blandly benign and the delusionally dangerous.
725. This is an age which cherishes not only hopeful illusions, but the self-esteem of those most foolishly entranced; thus, in all things, the truth becomes toxic: the destruction of fantasy is seen as a wanton, gratuitous cruelty.
723. Truth disdains alike the sanctity of religion, the myth of equality, and the ideal of cultural fraternity. Thus it is inimical to peace, order, and security -- the raison d'être of all government.
722. Freedom of speech is attacked because, over time, it tends to lead to truth -- a destroyer of dreams and a threat to harmony.
701. Political correctness: a gloss of lipstick on the snout of truth.
692. Just as the old, looking back, idealize the past, so the young, looking forward, idealize the future. Illusion is the stuff of memory -- and is at the heart of hope.
680. Political correctness -- a cocktail of poisonous lies pretending to the sweetness of lemonade, and the virtue of carrot juice.
676. Illusions are necessary, but dangerous. Commitment is best hedged with caution.
662. Political correctness cherishes, above all, the subjective lens; further, no individual perception of reality is -- reassuringly -- better than any other. To suggest otherwise is to risk an unpleasant encounter with the truth.
659. The lies of political correctness sound pleasant enough -- but the truth is like a restless skeleton in the closet – it will rattle its way out eventually.
653. Truth will always be ignored if it threatens the cherished ideal of equality.
649. The spiritual home of Left-Wingery is -- of course -- none other than the Big Rock Candy Mountain -- where the sun always shines, the handouts grow on bushes, and the bluebird, full of free lemonade, exults in perpetual song.
603. "Preferred narrative:" A pleasant, left-wing version of reality designed to obscure the truth.
589. When truth is labelled blasphemy, a new dark age of the mind has been proclaimed.
571. Men think in herds, not because herds are right, but because they offer security, mutual respect, and a needed sense of certainty.
570. Facts require no special protection; it is only some beliefs that claim criticism is unfair and illegitimate.
558. The miraculous – dazzling and fantastical – cannot be denied: the transformation of matter from inanimate to animate – the expanding labyrinthine complexity and the extraordinary variety of life forms – the mysterious development of consciousness. Yet the process itself seems automatic and reactive rather than planned and deliberate. And nowhere is there even a breath of benevolence – except in the yearning of the human imagination.
556. The dreams most desirable are least attainable. This is the first axiom in the geometry of reality.
555. Pie-itis: Disease affecting cognition and perception. Characterized by specific hallucinations concerning edible desserts (they are usually round, and crusted) navigating in the earth’s atmosphere.
554. There are things people want to hear. And then there is the truth.
537. The nature of reality is such that the prism of illusion is always necessary.
529. The truth is seldom popular: it doesn't look good, it doesn't sound good, and it refuses to change.
496. Hopeful illusions -- so necessary and comforting -- so dangerous when made compulsory.
493. The truth is unpleasant; on the other hand, one should choose one's lies quite carefully.
463. Truth can afford to be casual, and point to the evidence; belief -- lacking evidence -- tends to passion, and to extremes.
447. In the pigsty of reality -- always the cruel hope of a silk purse.
432. And this alone the skeptic's daunting task:
Find pebble truth beneath the golden mask.
418. The path to progress is often blocked by the deference which reality is required to pay to fantasy.
407. A concerted attempt to shield people from experiencing hurt feelings may appear noble; but a price is paid in the coin of freedom, and in the currency of truth.
404. The necessity of illusion is the curse of mankind.
393. Self-delusion: short term self-protection in exchange for longer term self-destruction.
376. Happy myths are more popular than bleak realities.
362. The flower of absurd belief is usually rooted in the soil of fear, and fear is its chief means of propagation.
354. Some ideas are better than others. This simple truth strikes at the heart of many popular beliefs; multiculturalism and religion come quickly to mind.
352. One of the chief problems of human existence is posed by this simple question: How much truth should be sacrificed into the maw of illusion?
(The depth of the problem may be illustrated by a restatement: How much warmth of illusion is needed to protect us from the cold winds of truth?)
351. (a) It is difficult to tell people the truth.
(b) So needed are the balms of illusion, it is difficult to tell people the truth.
343. People are often wedded to their illusions; any petition for divorce is likely to be met with a degree of shock, and a measure of hostility.
321. Pretending there is no abyss will not repeal the law of gravity.
318. It's a delicate balance. A certain amount of humbug is necessary to keep the wheels of civilized society turning. Too much humbug -- as people pretend that sand is a lubricant and dynamite a promising alternative fuel -- and the bang and whimper of collapse loom near.
312. Harmony on the cheap -- purchased by turning a blind eye to the transgressions of those claiming other cultural values -- may yet prove to be unacceptably costly.
308. Where harmony is the greatest good, the notes of truth and justice are often deemed discordant -- harsh voices inadmissible in the reverential choir.
307. Every illusion has its price.
224.The truth is not determined by popular vote; the
fact that an overwhelming majority of scientists, doctors, Baptist ministers, or
organ grinders believe in a proposition is irrelevant to its validity. At one
time, everyone believed
that the earth was flat.
219. Harsh truths are oft unearthed, but seldom embraced; rather they are re-buried or painted over with a more agreeable mask of illusion.
202. Illusion is at the heart of existence.
170. Some truths are best glimpsed, then kept only in dim remembrance, as a salutary check on one’s accustomed devotion to illusion.
169. By all means seeks the truth – but do not expect it to be a satisfactory substitute for illusion
166. Disappointment in life is assured, since necessary illusions are necessarily vulnerable to contradictory evidence.
155. Happiness is a temporary illusion.
110. One of the great difficulties faced by society is the fitting of large, square pegs of truth into rather smaller, round holes of idealized perfection--the fond fashionings of human aspiration.
92. The truth is never a match for politics, or ambition.
79. It is not that lies are not dangerous--they certainly are. But, often, they are considered less dangerous than the truth. It is for this reason that many affirm the idea of equality of human beings, or the validity of religion.
76. Belief in nonsense is as widespread as the emotions which fuel it: fear, greed, and hope.
71. Without the lubricant of agreeable lies, the machinery of civilization would grind to a halt.
65. Most people prefer the comfort of espousing a popular error to the challenge of maintaining an unpopular truth.
53. Illusion, rather than truth, is the great necessity in life; religion is often part of that necessity.
50. Civilization is built on lies; an untempered devotion to truth is neither politic nor sensible.
42. Knowing the truth, holding it in high regard–yet, nonetheless, feeling the need to conceal it in favour of an agreeable lie–that is the darkness at the heart of the human condition which is the subject of Conrad’s famous novel, Heart of Darkness.