Invincible Ignorance

I can’t remember where I found this, but it is a perceptive quote by Chomsky, though I find Chomsky noxious I think he is more right than he realizes:

“So we had the usual kind of debate going on, which illustrates a very important and pervasive distinction between several types of propaganda systems. To take the ideal types, exaggerating a little: totalitarian states’ propaganda is that you better accept it, or else. And “or else” can be of various consequences, depending on the nature of the state. People can actually believe whatever they want as long as they obey. Democratic societies use a different method: they don’t articulate the party line. That’s a mistake. What they do is presuppose it, then encourage vigorous debate within the framework of the party line. This serves two purposes. For one thing it gives the impression of a free and open society because, after all, we have lively debate. It also instills a propaganda line that becomes something you presuppose, like the air you breathe.”

Indeed, democracy demands consensus which is; acknowledged assumptions by all parties. The political fight in democracies is merely about details. Nothing fundamental is being debated, even the carbon tax which this blog has been ferocious in opposing is merely another step in the direction of previous taxes with fraudulent pseudo-justifications. If you oppose the carbon tax then it is more consistent to then oppose central banking. Let me enlighten any of our readers who aren’t familiar with banking. Central banks aren’t necessary for the economy or for you. They were instituted by government to rip off savers through inflation and therefore subsidize government debt. Inflation is always a phenomenon caused by monetary and fiscal policy. It is a far more devastating and comprehensive stealth tax than the carbon-tax can ever be. I’m dismayed when I here supposed fiscal conservative and libertarians  support central banks through their ignorant presupposition.

The banking system isn’t capitalist, its thoroughly socialist. It allows the government to sustain enormous amounts of debt with little bondholder revolt, until now of course and only because of the sheer magnitude of the debt and swine behavior of the bankers and bureaucrats. Governments before central banking had to balance their books, anyone with money was hesitant to lend governments money because they usually defaulted on it. Real economic history is but a train wreck of government defaults. See This Time is Different, by Reinhart & Rogoff.

The majority of economic problems that average Australian’s suffer are primarily caused by central banking. The coalition isn’t really serious about the economy or about the mortgage nuclear bomb that the Australian middle class is so perilously propped upon. Yet they assume they’re to be the party of capitalism and the individual, far from it, they’re riddled with Keynesian presuppositions. This makes more sense when you understand that the coalition are supported by mercantile oligarchs.

The entire economic debate in Australia and the West is infected with this self-serving establishment pseudo-think. If you think I’m being precious, you probably also believed that medieval people were religious backward morons who though the earth was flat. That at least is the consensus today, the presupposition. Except its not true, it isn’t historically how people thought back then. This nice little site makes a good  summary of the actual history of Christopher Columbus:

So what was Columbus’s mistake? The disagreement between him and his critics was over the size of the world – not an easy thing to measure. The story of this controversy can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and the various ways their writings were transmitted to the West.

The Greeks had tried hard to find out how large the Earth is and managed to calculate many different figures depending on the methods and accuracy of their work. The most famous effort today is that of Eratosthenes, Librarian of Alexandria, who wrote a treatise On the Measurement of the Earth (now lost) in which he gave a figure for the Earth’s circumference of 250,000 stadia. Depending on how long a stadia actually was this is the equivalent of about 23,000 miles, creditably close to the true figure of 24,900 miles. However, given his method involved pacing out the distance between two points 500 miles apart, we must allow that he enjoyed a good deal of luck as well.

At the time Eratosthenes’s result did not demand universal assent and was widely seen as too big. A more popular figure is that given in by Strabo and Ptolemy, two distinguished Greek geographers of around the first century AD who both suggested 180,000 stadia. We are not sure where they got their figures from but they were repeated by the Latin writer Seneca who transmitted them to the medieval West. By the time that it became a live issue for Columbus, Eratosthenes’ figure was back in vogue and the experts were wisely urging the Italian not to set sail. In particular a committee set up in Salamanca examined the plans and rejected them on the grounds that Columbus had underestimated the distance he would have to travel. Their concern is easy to understand – imagine how much trouble Columbus would have been in if the Americas had not been there. He could not possibly have survived the trip all the way to the east coast of Asia and was very lucky that some land intervened before he and his crew had to pay for his mistake. In the end, however, Queen Isabella of Spain was won over and donated the resources required.

…According to Jeffrey Burton Russell here, the invention of the flat Earth myth can be laid at the feet of Washington Irving, who included it in his historical novel on Columbus, and the wider idea that the everyone in the Middle Ages was deluded has been widely accepted ever since.

…The myth that Christians in the Middle Ages thought the world was flat was given a massive boost by Andrew Dickson White’s weighty tome The Warfare of Science with Theology. This book has become something of a running joke among historians of science and it is dutifully mentioned as a prime example of misinformation in the preface of most modern works on science and religion. The flat Earth is discussed in chapter 2 and one can almost sense White’s confusion that hardly any of the sources support his hypothesis that Christians widely believed in it. He finds himself grudgingly admitting that Clement, Origen, Ambrose, Augustine, Isodore, Albertus Magnus and Aquinas all accepted the Earth was a globe – in other words none of the great doctors of the church had considered the matter in doubt. Although an analysis of what White actually says suggests he was aware that the flat Earth was largely a myth, he certainly gives an impression of ignorant Christians suppressing rational knowledge of its real shape.

As for Galileo:

The Church Dogmatically Opposed the New Science: In reality, the Church was the leading sponsor of the new science and Galileo himself was funded by the church. The leading astronomers of the time were Jesuit priests. They were open to Galileo’s theory but told him the evidence for it was inconclusive. This was the view of the greatest astronomer of the age, Tyco Brahe. The Church’s view of heliocentrism was hardly a dogmatic one. When Cardinal Bellarmine met with Galileo he said, “While experience tells us plainly that the earth is standing still, if there were a real proof that the sun is in the center of the universe…and that the sun goes not go round the earth but the earth round the sun, then we should have to proceed with great circumspection in explaining passages of scripture which appear to teach the contrary, and rather admit that we did not understand them than declare an opinion to be false which is proved to be true. But this is not a thing to be done in haste, and as for myself, I shall not believe that there are such proofs until they are shown to me.” Galileo had no such proofs.

Galileo Was A Victim of Torture and Abuse: This is perhaps the most recurring motif, and yet it is entirely untrue. Galileo was treated by the church as a celebrity. When summoned by the Inquisition, he was housed in the grand Medici Villa in Rome. He attended receptions with the Pope and leading cardinals. Even after he was found guilty, he was first housed in a magnificent Episcopal palace and then placed under “house arrest” although he was permitted to visit his daughters in a nearby convent and to continue publishing scientific papers.

The Church Was Wrong To Convict Galileo of Heresy: But Galileo was neither charged nor convicted of heresy. He was charged with teaching heliocentrism in specific contravention of his own pledge not to do so. This is a charge on which Galileo was guilty. He had assured Cardinal Bellarmine that given the sensitivity of the issue, he would not publicly promote heliocentrism. Yet when a new pope was named, Galileo decided on his own to go back on his word. Asked about this in court, he said his Dialogue on the Two World Systems did not advocate heliocentrism. This is a flat-out untruth as anyone who reads Galileo’s book can plainly see. Even Galileo’s supporters, and there were many, found it difficult to defend him at this point.

What can we conclude from all this? Galileo was right about heliocentrism, but we know that only in retrospect because of evidence that emerged after Galileo’s death. The Church should not have tried him at all, although Galileo’s reckless conduct contributed to his fate. Even so, his fate was not so terrible. Historian Gary Ferngren concludes that “the traditional picture of Galileo as a martyr to intellectual freedom and as a victim of the church’s opposition to science has been demonstrated to be little more than a caricature.”

Catholic theologians have a fitting term its called: Invincible Ignorance.

About Avadoro Worden

Iconoclast
This entry was posted in Bureaucracy, Christianity, Finance and Economics, History, Liberal Party, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Invincible Ignorance

  1. drongo says:

    That’s how it is, mate.

  2. Dejanira says:

    Great post.

  3. Louis the Outlier says:

    Unfortunately, you are right.

  4. Zedlub says:

    It seems that China had its week of democratic debate, now back to the future.

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