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Here's a neat passage that I just transcribed from the sample pages of Financial Reckoning Day: Surviving the Soft Depression of the 21st Centuryfound on Amazon.com.

Facts have a way of yielding to nuance like a jury to a trial lawyer. Under the right influence, they will go along with anything. But metaphors remain… and continue to give useful service long after the facts have changed.

What’s more, metaphors help people understand the world and its workings. As Norman Mailer recently put it, "There is much more truth in a metaphor than in a fact." But the trouble with metaphors is that no matter how true they may be when they are fresh and clever, when the multitudes pick them up, they almost immediately become worn out and false. For the whole truth is always complex to the point of being unknowable, even to the world’s greatest geniuses.

The world never works the way people think it does. That is not to say that every idea about how the world works is wrong, but that often particular ideas about how it works will prove to be wrong if they are held in common. For only simple ideas can be held by large groups of people. Commonly held ideas are almost always dumbed down until they are practically lies… and often dangerous ones. Once vast numbers of people have come to believe the lie, they adjust their own behavior to bring themselves into sync with it, and thereby change the world itself. The world, then, no longer resembles the one that gave rise to the original insight. Soon a person’s situation is so at odds with the world as it really is that a crisis develops, and he or she must seek a new metaphor for explanation and guidance.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Oct. 10th, 2004 09:31 pm (UTC)
Quite an excellent quote there, spot on with regards to the average joe.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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