Ethos of Suckers

Snake-oil salesmen and Shamans

“Behold! I give thee rock hard abs! (All for three easy payments of $25.99.)

Like the myth of an eroding civility (our politics has been rife with incivility since the dawn of our Republic), people lament the death of critical thinking in American society. Critical thinking hasn’t died. Snake-oil salesmen and phony shamans have hawked their wares and services since the dawn of human history, and they’ve always found suckers willing to bite.

However, with universal public education, shouldn’t the population be more educated and thus warier of those things that seem too good to be true?

The short answer: Of course not.

A sizable percentage of people will always let their hopes and dreams and desires for an outcome outweigh their reason. A sizable percentage of people will always hang on to the belief that the focus of their desires and dreams will be the exception to the rule. Also, the television/print bias, where people assume that if something is on television or is in print that an expert authority vetted it, is as strong as ever.

Plus, it’s just plain easier to believe than to think.

In 2008, Obama voters believed that because of his soaring rhetoric, Obama would be excused from the normal realities and patterns of politics. These jaded souls are slowly coming to the realization that candidate-Obama sold them, and in all probability himself (“You know, I actually believe my own bull****.”), a false bill of goodsContinue reading