One of the greatest pleasures of my childhood, indeed of my life, was havubf Daddy read to us boys in the evening.  He chose wonderful books from a variety of traditions.  Among them was Kiplings Jungle Book.

There is an episode in which the boy, being raised by wolves, is kidnapped by monkeys - the Bandar-log.  As I remember my father read that they would say, "We are a great and wise people.  We all say it, so it must be true."  I finally found the quote.  It goes rather. "We are the most wonderful people in the jungle!  We all say so, and so it must be true."

Daddy would routinely make slight changes as he read in order to add more drama and humor.  As a child I could never tell from his voice that he had departed from the text.

Of course you can recognize what his change did.  In the proper version, the monkeys are being proud.  But that's fair enough.  Pride was not something Daddy much minded.  In the changed version they are being foolish.  That's a different kettle of fish.  And their folly is ironic.  The irony was not lost on the child.

Then I read a paper that had been presented at Woods Hole by a biologist named Nicholson.  He had been able to induce cycles in populations of blowflies by altering their feedings.  But he begins his presentation with the remark that a population will increase without limit until some resource is exhausted.  He backed this up with more than a dozen reasons.  But they were actually all the same reason:  It must be true because we all say it. 

Sound familiar?  Well it's the reigning paradigm at present.

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