Never Try to Discourage Thinking for You are Sure to Succeed

In 1951, Bertrand Russell wrote a piece for the New York Times Magazine entitled “The best answer to fanaticism: Liberalism,” which concluded as such

Perhaps the essence of the Liberal outlook could be summed up in a new decalogue, not intended to replace the old one but only to supplement it. The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:

1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.

3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.

4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.

5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.

6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.

7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.

9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.

10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

It’s quite the ‘eat your vegetables’ kind of list. But what would the other side of this coin look like?  Would the essence of the Conservative outlook of the time really sound something like…

1. Feel absolutely certain about everything.

2. It is worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, because there’s a chance the evidence won’t come to light and until then it will benefit you.

3. Discourage thinking.

4. When you meet with opposition, overcome it by authority and not by argument, for you might lose the argument.

5. Have respect for authority, for they are right.

6. Use power to suppress opinions you think harmful, for it will suppress them.

7. Fear to be eccentric in opinion, for though an opinion might one day be accepted, until then it will be suppressed.

8. Find pleasure in passive agreement.

9. Be scrupulously untruthful, even if the truth is convenient.

10. Envy the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise.

What a frightening experiment.  You could see why no one would promote such a set of ideas explicitly, but, other than tactically, could anyone truly believe in them?

[h/t Marginal Revolution]

Famous Scientists for $1,000

Earlier this week we looked at the study of culturomics, which takes the frequency of a word’s use in written literature to quantify cultural trends.  Now we’re going to see what can be done with this data on a larger scale, in this case, measuring the impact of scientists.

Here’s the top 20 from the Science Hall of Fame, which includes over 4,000 names from two centuries…

Though the researchers used milliDarwins as the measure of fame for the study, ACM’s favorite, Bertrand Russell tops the list.

To give you a little more perspective on the timelines involved here, check out this video that covers physicists, chemists and biologists and their level of fame by year.  You’ll find plenty of new names worth looking into further…

Speaking of, who was Claude Bernard?  Turns out he was a french physiologist who worked to bring the scientific method to medicine.  First to use the term milieu intérieur (aka homeostatis), let’s close with a quote from him regarding our bodies’ relationship with the external world, which has some interesting relevance to the Ape Con Myth…

The living body, though it has need of the surrounding environment, is nevertheless relatively independent of it. This independence which the organism has of its external environment, derives from the fact that in the living being, the tissues are in fact withdrawn from direct external influences and are protected by a veritable internal environment which is constituted, in particular, by the fluids circulating in the body.

For more on the Science Hall of Fame, you can check out the article from Science explaining their process or go to Gonzo Labs for other materials from the study’s creators, John Bohannon and Adrian Veres.

How Much of Our Industry is Unnecessary?

Ape Con Myth’s mission is to find out if the Ape Con Myth is true.  What is the Ape Con Myth?  It’s a theorized phenomenon in which humanity continues to struggle for survival despite having the means to end the struggle.  Our belief is that this state of humanity already exists in 2011.

Bertrand Russell thought it was here in 1932…

These selections are from his essay, In Praise of Idleness, which is short and worth a full read even if you still lack the leisure time to do so.

Plato Sucks

To begin ACM’s study of philosophy, let’s jump somewhere randomly in the middle.

What is philosophy?  We will get to that.
Why have you probably read Plato while possibly never having heard of Bertrand Russell?  Good question.
What does the latter think of the former?  See for yourself…




And presumably, it still is…

[Bertrand Russell’s Unpopular Essays via Google Books]