Grand Illusions and Existential Angst

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The great promise of a hyper-connected society having the world’s knowledge at its fingertips was better decisions and a more enlightened citizenry. The great disappointment is the proliferation of fake news and ways to confirm to ourselves what we already felt to be true—whether that is the case or not.

In many ways, society progresses only when people question what is already known; as Thomas Paine proclaims, “It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry” (Paine 1737–1809). The scientific apparatus is, arguably, the best tool for such inquiry. It has been laying waste to social hubris and human arrogance by identifying illusions for centuries.

It was common knowledge that a heavy rock falls to the ground faster than a small, lightweight pebble—until Galileo questioned such knowledge. Acknowledging our propensity for self-deception is an unparalleled route to enlightenment.

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