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And we won’t get duped AGAIN!

April 3, 2019

Greetings,

Feeling educated, as I am, this was sobering…. 🙂 You’ll see why!

It was to the charlatan’s advantage that the individuals predisposed to credulity should multiply, that the groups of his adherents should enlarge to mass proportions, guaranteeing an ever greater scope for his triumphs. And this was in fact to occur, as science was popularized, from the Renaissance on down through succeeding centuries. With the immense growth of knowledge and its spread through printing in modern times, the mass of the half educated, the eagerly gullible prey of the quack, also increased, became indeed a majority; real power could be based on their wishes, opinions, preferences, and rejections. The charlatan’s empire accordingly widened with the modern dissemination of knowledge; since he operated on the basis of science, however much he perverted it, producing gold with a technique borrowed from chemistry and his wonderful balsams with the apparatus of medicine, he could not appeal to an entirely ignorant folk. The illiterate would be protected against his absurdities by their healthy common sense. His choicest audience would be composed of the semiliterate, those who had exchanged their common sense for a little distorted information and had encountered science and education at some time, though briefly and unsuccessfully. The great mass of mankind has always been predisposed to marvel at mysteries, and this was especially true at certain historic periods when the secure foundations of life seemed shaken and old values, economic or spiritual, long accepted as certainties, could no longer be relied upon. Then the numbers of the charlatan’s dupes multiplied – the “self killers,” as a seventeenth-century Englishman called them.

Grete De Francesco (The Power of the Charlatan) 

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