Paradigm Maintenance in Institutional Settings

The difference between truth and usefulness is basic in philosophy, though some pragmatists (not all) obscured this. And it is because of the orthogonal nature of these two standards that false ideas circulate, and can even become a dominant paradigm.

The advantage a dominant group has regarding ideas is clear: it can reward people for their bad ideas, and then show the results of the rewards as evidence for the aptness of those ideas.

Insider cultists of a dominant ideology reward each other, and thus reinforce their sense of certainty. And to outsiders? They can malign, ridicule, and heap on other disincentives for belief espousal that have nothing to do with truth-value.

THIS, ah yes, THIS! It’s the oldest trick in the book.

It is positively ancient. Which is why free speech and the scientific method were developed: to protect elites from self-corruption.

You can always tell whether someone practices the virtue of truthfulness: they never rely on social controls to defend their paradigms. Anyone who says they “follow the science,” for instance, but encourages de-platforming of competing ideas is a fraud — not a philosopher; not a scientist. That person is, at base, a Child of the Lie. And the most effective lies are the ones we not merely tell ourselves, but get our peers to tell us. The social reinforcement solidifies false beliefs as effectively as true ones, so that one ceases to be able to tell them apart — in part because one has stopped tallying whether the reason one believes something is its truth-value persuasiveness or its social-advantage persuasiveness.