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The Age of Arrogance

posted 24 Jun 2017, 01:03 by mark: jennings

So it’s been a while. And as the thoughts coalesce it is apparent to me that we live in an age of arrogance.


There have been two game changing events in history that are often quoted to demonstrate to the foolish that things are NEVER as they seem.


The first was the revelation that the world was not flat but indeed globular. Imagine the paradigm shifting realisation that what you held to be true was actually wrong. That what you had been taught by ‘men of knowledge’ was wrong.


The second was the revelation that the Earth was not the centre of the universe but it was in fact the Sun. Imagine every man, woman and child who had pause for thought realising all they had been told was wrong. All the theories which were developed to maintain the illusion.


In these bygone eras it is forgivable to be misled, misunderstand the true nature of things. The average man didn’t have access to knowledge that breeds wider understanding. Instead you believe the knowledge handed down from the ‘educated’, the ‘enlightened’ leaders.


Despite the technical revolution that has been marching for decades now, the average man is dumber than his bygone counterpart. Dumber because of the reliance on the technology that was supposed to improve our lives in so many different ways.


So here’s the arrogance. The self important belief that we are near the end of a trajectory that makes us the master of all we perceive. As such evolved beings, with knowledge literally at our fingertips, how could we be wrong about anything as fundamental as the two events listed above. We believe the big questions have been answered and that is an end to it.


I was once told, that a question doesn’t exist if you do not already know the answer. At the time it sounded like a fortune cookie quote. Sounds philosophical but ultimately meaningless. It is actually an empowering thought. For example the question of space travel didn’t exist until we had rockets. The question of plastic kettles didn’t exist until plastic technology had advanced to a point where the question was inevitable.


It may be a surprise to many of you to learn that there are a large number of people out there that still believe the Earth is flat and remains at the centre of the universe. They have remarkably detailed and reasoned explanations of how this is so. Are they crazy ? Perhaps, but consider. When a paradigm belief can be flipped, who is to say that it can’t be flipped again and again. The arrogance is to believe that it can’t.


Accepting one knowledge does not mean we should dismiss all others. The oft quoted “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function” . This after all is supposed to be the ability that distinguishes us within the animal world.


How do we recognise people absent this quality ? They will always be the ones who rush to the discussion bearing all they have learned about the prevailing paradigm and regurgitate it like a gull feeding its immature hatchlings. These people puff themselves on their ability to skilfully waste a point of view through their ability to absorb without question, another. When that ‘other’ view arrived in their mind through no other mechanism that ‘they were told’ then it should be treated with extreme scepticism. This is no more than a belief. It might seem self defining, but knowledge is what you know, not what you believe.


If I’m to leave you with anything from this rant, let it be this…Question everything.

The voice in the wilderness