Thursday, January 19, 2012

Found it while I was researching "Cone Pone"

Corn-Pone Opinions: "We all do no end of feeling, and we mistake it for thinking."

In a 1901 essay not published until 1923, years after his death, mark Twain examines the effects of social pressure on our thoughts and beliefs.

A political emergency brings out the corn-pone opinion in fine force in its two chief varieties--the pocketbook variety, which has its origin in self-interest, and the bigger variety, the sentimental variety--the one which can't bear to be outside the pale; can't bear to be in disfavor; can't endure the averted face and the cold shoulder; wants to stand well with his friends, wants to be smiled upon, wants to be welcome, wants to hear the precious words, "He's on the right track!" Uttered, perhaps by an ass, but still an ass of high degree, an ass whose approval is gold and diamonds to a smaller ass, and confers glory and honor and happiness, and membership in the herd. For these gauds many a man will dump his lifelong principles into the street, and his conscience along with them. We have seen it happen. In some millions of instances....
In our late canvass, half of the nation passionately believed that in silver lay salvation, the other half as passionately believed that that way lay destruction. Do you believe that a tenth part of the people, on either side, had any rational excuse for having an opinion about the matter at all? I studied that mighty question to the bottom--and came out empty. Half of our people passionately believe in high tariff, the other half believe otherwise. Does this mean study and examination, or only feeling? The latter, I think. I have deeply studied that question, too--and didn't arrive. We all do no end of feeling, and we mistake it for thinking. And out of it we get an aggregation which we consider a Boon. Its name is Public Opinion. It is held in reverence. It settles everything. Some think it the Voice of God. Pr'aps.
I suppose that in more cases than we should like to admit, we have two sets of opinions: one private, the other public; one secret and sincere, the other corn-pone, and more or less tainted. -- "Corn-Pone Opinions," by Mark Twain

Yes, it seems he's right about the 50% thing ... and seems to still hold true over a hundred years later??  

And this is why I think our founding fathers were SO concerned about limiting the power of government.  Because, what is government anyway if it isn't the majority telling the minority what to do? That's right, roughly 52% of the idiots in the public telling the other 48% how to live. And the founders realized that it has always been so and will always be so -- and they wanted to LIMIT the power of these idiots in the "majority" who enslave you to whatever extent they possibly can.

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