“No authority”

We hear a great deal about ideas being accepted without examination because they come by authority. It is my experience nowadays that any idea will be accepted without any examination so long as it does not come by authority. This can be practically tested at any moment. Indeed, it makes a rather amusing parlour-game. Go into a crowded drawing-room and say, “I have had a revelation from heaven that it is dangerous to wear galoshes,” and your friends will see, even if they do not say, that it is a silly idea. They will think it a silly idea because you give what is, after all, a reason for it. But if you simply say, without any reason or authority whatever, “Don’t you know it’s very dangerous to wear galoshes?” all their faces will instantly alter with intelligence and alarm, and they will discuss every aspect of this important piece of news except the question of where it came from…

It is, after all, even in the rational sense, something in favour of any formula that any public authority has made itself responsible for endorsing it. But in practice, if your remark has some authority, people will resist and criticize it. If it has no authority, they will surrender and swallow it. Such is the detached and daring freedom of the modern mind.

Illustrated London News, 16 June 1917.

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Published in: on May 15, 2019 at 12:37 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “any public authority has make itself responsible” <– A typo in there, I think, maybe a missing "to"?

    Many thank for keeping this going, by the way. Love it.

  2. Ah, one of those rare typos: a left-right hand reversal on the keyboard. ‘make’ now corrected to ‘made’. Thanks.

  3. This whole post is golden.


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