free delusion

There is a tendency to believe what one reads, especially if it is presented by an authoritative source. This can lead one astray.

The moral of the story is that news sources that are considered reliable by many people, like the Washington Post, in fact make a great many errors–some innocent, others not. If an assertion sounds outlandish, like the claim that roving bands of 18th century Catholic priests went about hanging people, realize that it may very well be a fabrication. (Or, to take another example, the claim that a Secretary of the Interior expressed the view that environmental preservation is unnecessary in view of the imminent end of the world.) And bear in mind that false statements seem to be made more frequently about some people–Catholics, say, or Republicans–than about others. [Hindrocket. Not Even Voltaire Believed This One. Powerline. 11Fb05]

The fact is that words are written by humans and humans can make mistakes. These mistakes can be intentional or not. One source of such mistakes is related to concepts such as hubris or arrogance where people think they know truth better than others. The case of the lawyer convicted for helping her terrorist client communicate from prison appears to be an example of this.

Stewart referred several times to 9/11 as providing the “pretext” or “excuse” for snuffing out idealistic “activists” such as she. Her indictment, she acknowledged, was not brought under the PATRIOT Act but, according to Stewart, it resulted from the same “aura” of hatred directed at Islam in the wake of 9/11. Stewart never once acknowledged the reality of the war against the United States or the peril that those such as her client the blind sheik pose to it. Stewart’s conclusion articulated her theme in the old Guild tradition, accusing the Bush administration of accomplishing the “usurpation [of civil liberties] by voracious corporate government.” [Big Trunk. “Face to face with Lynne Stewart. FPM ]

The lesson is that we need to be careful about what we believe and what we accept as fact. We also need to allow room for error, even our own error, and compare new information to old information to try to make sense of it all.

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