Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Monday, December 12, 2005

"The Big Lie"

I often pride myself on being rationally ignorant about many things: given what I already know, and given my priors and expectations, I'm often unwilling to look into matters when someone tells me something. What are the expected benefits of doing so? Usually they are much less than the expected costs, so I let it go.

Within this framework, it is easy to understand why "The Big Lie" works as a strategy for despotic control. The ruler's subjects are told some horrid lies. And the costs of checking them out are made very high (the threat of pain and torture does that). After awhile, the subjects hear the same big lies often enough that they find it easier to believe the lies than challenge them. It is frightening.

Now read this [h/t to JC].
Commonplace in Islamic media and intellectual circles are accusations that Jews concocted the Holocaust, they control the media, they are Nazis, they inject HIV into Muslim children, they drink the blood of Muslim children, and of course that they are taking over the world, according to the Anti-Defamation League and as displayed across the pages of prominent Islamic newspapers.

The result is that Islamic leaders and media are systematically indoctrinating their people to believe all the ills of the Muslim world are the fault of someone else.

When such audacious statements and beliefs are brought to the attention of those in the West, the tendency is to brush them aside as ridiculous but ultimately harmless. We often subscribe to the "let them believe what they want to believe" mentality.

This is a dangerous fallacy. History has shown time and again that such beliefs are not harmless.

We must recognize that when the "Big Lie" is left unchallenged - as it was in 1930s Germany - humanity pays a heavy toll.
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