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Back to Observations
TRUTH AND ILLUSION
2154. Evil is most successful when it parades as virtue.
2143. Those who favour "diversity" do not want to hear that too much diversity is unworkable -- it invites chaos. They support only a theoretical "diversity" -- the kind that signals virtue -- not the divergent opinion that exposes the truth.
2139. The battle between idealism and realism is organic to the human condition. Each can be destructive -- but only one wears a mask.
2125. Societies are tribal and territorial. The are built on commonalities, not differences. Trying to make them diverse and global is like trying to remove the moisture from water.
2124. Harmony may be possible in a society where most people believe in the truth, or when most people believe in the same lies. It seems unlikely in a society where half the people believe in lies, and half believe in the truth -- or a radically different set of lies.
2123. We are seeing a profound cultural shift -- away from the recognition of facts, and a respect for competence -- towards a reverence for feelings and a concomitant acceptance of egalitarian mediocrity. When the buzzwords of "diversity, inclusion, and equity" triumph over the pursuit of excellence -- we will reap the reward of such sentimental egalitarianism: the mindless bliss of profound dysfunction.
2112. The great modern folly is to believe that you can have all the advantages of western civilization -- which arise from an emphasis on competition, hierarchy, and competence -- by getting rid of competition, hierarchy, and competence.
2103. In a reasonable world, the transgender lobby would be seen for what it is -- an outrageous attempt to protect the feelings of a few by insulting, silencing, and de-legitimizing the many. In their Orwellian, dystopian vision, speech is to be compelled, and facts are to be denied. The "truth" is to be determined -- not by observation -- but by the power of propaganda,
2099. Make-believe worlds are like soap bubbles -- they don't land well.
2098. Virtuous theories do not ensure virtuous outcomes.
2079. Policies which reward people on the basis of group status are inherently prejudicial. The assumption is that group members are incompetent, and cannot be judged on their merits. What is being sought is not justice, but the appearance of it.
2075. Every society requires unifying myths and essential narratives -- and taboos to hide disruptive, unsettling truths.
2074. In every era, there are truths that dare not speak their names. In the past, perhaps, it was "The king is an idiot" -- or "God does not exist." The current sacrilege is to say "People are not equal." To say that they never have been and never will be is to invite permanent exclusion from polite society and -- probably -- an enforced regime of anti-psychotic medications.
2069. Slogans and buzzwords are often like leaky buckets: they may look pretty good -- but given the test -- they don't hold water.
2061. When the protection of feelings becomes the primary virtue, the truth -- like a scandalously disreputable relative -- effectively disappears -- buried in a discreet, uneasy silence.
2046. The human preference for attractive lies over plain truths accounts for the rise and persistence of left-wing lunacy.
2030. Life is scarcely possible without some disregard of the facts -- some degree of illusion. But some need a great deal more than others.
1999. While the sense of gender dysphoria may be real and profound, and the urge to deny contrary biology understandable, it is inappropriate to expect society to deny fact in favour of psychology. The fact is biological men can't give birth, and biological women can; the claim that biology doesn't matter is simply untrue. The attempt to compel speech, to prevaricate with statements like "not all boys have penises" -- these do not help the cause. The principle is oppressive and Orwellian -- mind control through Newspeak, logical absurdities, and the erasing of fact.
1991. Competition is in the blueprint of nature; cruelly, it declares winners and losers, and requires constant adaptation on pain of death. Human beings yearn to build crystal palaces of serenity and egalitarian happiness. The disparity between blueprint limitations and architect aspirations explains the structural defects of the human condition.
1990. The truth is necessary for understanding, but understanding has no pact with happiness.
1983. Wishful thinking is a short term comfort, a longer term disaster.
1933. The claim that all men are equal is nonsense -- but often repeated -- because fantasy flatters, and the truth hurts.
1932. The idea that all men are created equal is nonsense -- and everybody knows it. That the claim is repeated so often shows the degree to which self-esteem can be bolstered with the mere signal of virtue -- the promulgation of an egalitarian lie -- rather than from the practice of virtue itself -- a careful adherence to truth.
1921. Many bad ideas wear the sheen of virtue.
1879. Harmony purchased at the expense of truth and freedom is like the smile on the Devil's face.
1877. The truth is often impolite.
1852. The human condition will always be unsatisfactory -- since the battle between pleasant fantasies and hard realities can have no final resolution.
1833. An acceptance of reality can be remarkably freeing. Once you can say that equality is not in the blueprint of nature, and that political correctness is a dangerous sentimentalization of reality, you can come -- with great relief -- to conclusions formerly forbidden -- considered unkind, anti-social, immoral, and disruptive.
1818. It is currently fashionable to suppress the truth in favour of harmony. But such bargains usually end with the Devil unscathed, and everything else in flames.
1811. Speech is free -- until it contradicts a particularly cherished illusion.
1794. Truth is often sacrificed at the altar of Harmony. The great danger is that Harmony remains disdainful and elusive -- and the Truth, re-discovered, brought back to life, takes a terrible revenge.
1775. Illusions, while necessary -- like other drugs -- need rigorous testing for safety and efficacy.
1758. People would rather run with the herd -- even if it is wrong -- than risk getting trampled by championing the truth.
1735. Political correctness is all three monkeys, rolled into one: it refuses to see, hear or speak evil. By refusing to recognize evil, it is powerless to advance the cause of good.
1725. Failure is baked into every cake which can only be consumed in Wonderland.
1708. It is a fatal flaw for religion to claim that it has all the answers. In the real world, things change -- including verifiable knowledge. Old speculative certainties run the risk of becoming new, obvious absurdities.
1685. You cannot serve two masters: if your devotion is firmly to truth, then feelings will bleed from its blade; if your God is the protection of feelings, then the truth must go beg in the streets.
1667. Political correctness and the truth inhabit galaxies so far apart that no ray of light has yet completed the journey between them.
1664. Virtue-signalling is the modern epidemic – and once you become convinced that you are on the side of the angels, any pact with the totalitarian devil can be justified. The truth of things – where virtue actually lies – such matters are irrelevant.
1650. It is not surprising that liberals favour the lowering of the voting age: they know the young are idealistic and vulnerable to their stock-in-trade of attractive illusions.
1632. Reality -- the truth -- is sprawling, stubborn, contradictory, mysterious, and inconvenient. It cannot be tidily stuffed into the little boxes of religious dogma -- nor can it be agreeably housed in the brittle crystal palace of egalitarian socialist ideals.
1629. Mr. Trudeau suffers from the "Angelical Fallacy" – he believes himself to be irrevocably on the side of the angels. The delusion can be fatal: victims believe that their virtuous ends – so undeniable and obvious – will justify all means – no matter how foolish or ignoble. Thus, they make irretrievable pacts with the devil.
1624. Political correctness requires people to ignore what they know to be true, and profess "acceptable" lies. It represents the real-life attempt to establish "thoughtcrimes."
1595. The more comforting the illusion, the more vigorous must be the defence; the greater the assumption of virtue, the greater is the oppression righteously justified. We live in an age devoted to "virtuous" illusions.
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.