The antidote to arrogance

The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover just how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false.

—Paul Johnson


  1. One really could wish that people would learn from history. . . .

    • Bob McMaster says

      “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to quote George Santayana.”
      ~ Jonah Goldberg

  2. Pouncer says

    We need not over-egg the pudding, as the English said of their spys’ reports on Iraqi WMD. Our novel, glib, and plausible theories need not be “wholly false” to be destructive. It is sufficient that they be disproportionately false. If we find perhaps that some apparently neutral choice of behavior correlates to some undesirable or expensive outcome, and attempt to eliminate — not just the behavior — the choice, we typically find that we STILL have the bad outcome; have gained other bad outcomes, and have lost a crucial freedom. Consider the bans on “second-hand smoke”.

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