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I do not think it will ever be possible to eliminate fashions in intellectual nonsense. They have existed for as long as human beings have existed because they meet so many strong human desires, including the desire for extravagant emotional self-indulgence. They give us all the answers—and this in turn gives us a sense of mastery of the problems that we see as confronting us, as well as a sense of superiority to the uninitiated. Real thinking is hard—not only labourious but more often than not unsuccessful, leaving us with a frustrating sense of our own inadequacy and our ignorance, not to mention exposing these to the raised eyebrows of others. It will always be easier to flee in the direction of what is safe, and safe because approved already. Our lack of self-confidence will always incline us to believe that if what we think is at odds with what a lot of intelligent people are saying then they are more likely to be right than we are. In practice it is not usually the case that the chief recommendation of abstract beliefs is their truth.

Bryan Magee (from Confessions of a Philosopher, 1997)

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