Wisdom of Ancients

The wisdom of the ancients

One of the problems of the education system in the USA, South Africa and in Britain, is that they teach children what to think, rather than how to think.

When I was at koskool (boarding school) nearly seventy years ago, we covered Ancient Greek and Latin. Two phrases in Latin I learnt have helped me throughout my life which I will explain below.

Whenever you hear something on television, from friends or from your teacher, here are those two Latin phases to put before any information:

Cui Bono (to whom [is it] a benefit)

A simple explanation to help understand would be: Scientists have reported that coffee is bad for you but tea is beneficial. Who benefits from this? The tea companies! But, I hear you say, isn’t this information from scientists. OK, Imagine you are the boss of a scientific team. A client from the tea company asks you to do research to see which is worse, tea or coffee. Now, you need business to keep the team together. If your answer is favourable to the client, they will come back to you in the future and tell others how good you are. So you skewer your research to prove tea is better for you.

Cui Malo (to whose detriment?)

I am not saying the following is fact or fiction, but am using it purely as an example. You hear on the news that the UK leaves the EU, the people will starve through lack of food. These scare stories abound and have been repeated since before their 2016 referendum. Who suffers from these stories if they are believed? The people in the “For Brexit” campaign as more people might turn against leaving the EU. So those stories are to the detriment of the people who vote for Brexit. And, this applies whether the information is fact or fiction. It is still to the detriment of the Brexit voting people.

These are just simple examples to help you understand what the two phrases are, and how important to remember and to use them. A wise person would use them always when they take on new information to help decide whether they are truth or lies, fact or fiction.