A quote

[Martin Taylor 990522 07:40]

As of today, I'm away for a month, so I won't be posting the messages I
had hoped to do before now. But I thought you might like the following
quote from Schopenhauer, which was printed as the "thought du jour" in
yesterday's Toronto Globe abd Mail.

"A man of correct insight among those who are doped and deluded resembles
one whose watch is right while all the clocks in town give the wrong
time. He alone knows the correct time, but of what use is this to him?
The whole world is guided by the clocks that show the wrong time."

I think this encapsulates the problem of getting a correct theory into
the "popular" mind. Each person's idea of what is correct is supported
by the opinions of others as well as by one's own analysis--or rather,
the opinions of others contribute to one's own perceptions of the
correctness of a theory. And so we get "popular beliefs" demonstrably
at variance with any available data, and democratically elected
governments that run successfully on a "law and order" platform.

It's not a new phenomenon. Mackay's 1852 "Extrraordinary popular
delusions and the madness of crowds" covers the same ground.
Reorganization theory in PCT explains it well. But it makes the situation
no less frustrating for the "one whose watch is right" to know that the
phenomenon has been long known and is well understood (if one looks at
the watch that is right).

See you in a month or so.


[Martin Taylor 970725 11:30]

The following quote was posted on the System Dynamics mailing list. It seems
relevant to the permanent discussion of why PCT hasn't taken off in the
academic world at large.



Prophets vs. Leaders

History bears witness to the vital part that "prophets" have played in
human progress - which is evidence of the ultimate practical value of
expressing unreservedly the truth as one sees it. Yet it also becomes
clear that the acceptance and spreading of their vision has always
depended on another class of men - "leaders" who had to be philosophical
strategists, striking a compromise between truth and men's receptivity
to it. Their effect has often depended as much on their own limitations
in perceiving the truth as on their practical wisdom in proclaiming it.

The prophets must be stoned; that is their lot, and the test of their
self-fulfillment. But a leader who is stoned may merely prove that he
has failed in his function through a deficiency of wisdom, or through
confusing his function with that of a prophet. Time alone can tell
whether the effect of such a sacrifice redeems the apparent failure as a
leader that does honour to him as a man. At the least, he avoids the
more common fault of leaders - that of sacrificing the truth to
expediency without ultimate advantage to the cause. For whoever
habitually suppresses the truth in the interests of tact will produce a
deformity from the womb of his thought.

                   B.H. Liddell-Hart
                   Strategy - The Indirect Approach
Quoted by Robert J Walker <rjwalker@on.bell.ca> 16 Aug 97.

PS. Don't try replying to the address from which this comes!