Sunday, March 07, 2021

It's Easy To Be Duped

I read this today on LinkedIn, of all places:

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." -- Aristotle

It struck me for a few reasons:

  1. It seems true.
  2. Aristotle said it, so it's probably true.
  3. The wording doesn't sound like Aristotle, though. Would he really say "to be able to?" A better way to phrase this might be, "It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it."
  4. Wait . . . I should probably use Google for this . . .

Sure enough, it seems to be inaccurate. Here's a blog post someone wrote about it: Nope, Aristotle Did Not Say, It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without . . .

The gist of the post is that Aristotle said something about the "mark of educated people" in Nicomachean Ethics, but it wasn't the above quote. The crazy thing is that I have read Nicomachean Ethics! I read it in an intro to philosophy course during my first year of college, and I still was led astray. The person on LinkedIn who posted the quote seems to be a smart and well-read man, and with Aristotle's name at the end -- well, I figured it must be accurate. It's a good thing my Spidey sense kicked in (or my knowledge of grammar and ancient philosophers or something else entirely) because it would have been a little embarrassing if I had misattributed the quote as well.

This tiny moment puzzles me, though . . .
  1. Does it matter that this quote was misattributed? At the end of it all, perhaps what matters is the sentiment of the quote itself -- do I believe it?
  2. It's so easy to be duped. Again, I've read the very work that this adage seems to be referencing, and I have a strong grasp of the English language. It still took me more than several minutes to finally use Google. How do we keep from being duped? Do we have to look everything up before we believe it? That would be a LOT of time and effort!
I don't know the answer to these questions, so I put it to you, readers. What do you think?

This might not seem like a big problem, but I would argue that it's the biggest problem plaguing the world today, especially America. It's hard to know what is true and what is false, especially when people can publish virtually anything they want to on the internet and especially when the country's public is, in my opinion, alarmingly partisan.

Thing I'm thankful for: Lily