If I were designing a phony religion, I'd surely include a version of this little gem -- but I'd have a hard time saying it with a straight face:
What is particularly cute about this trick is that it is a perfect "wild card," so lacking in content that any sect or creed or conspiracy can use it effectively. Communist cells can be warned that any criticism they encounter is almost sure to be the work of FBI infiltrators in disguise, and radical feminist discussion groups can squelch any unanswerable criticism by declaring it to be phallocentric propaganda being unwittingly spread by a brainwashed dupe of the evil patriarchy, and so forth. This all-purpose loyalty-enforcer is paranoia in a pill, sure to keep the critics muted if not silent.
If anybody ever raises questions of objections about our religion that you cannot answer, that person is almost certainly Satan. In fact, the more reasonable the person is, the more eager to engage you in open-minded and congenial discussion, the more sure you can be that you're talking to Satan in disguise! Turn away! Do not listen! It's a trap!
Did anyone invent this brilliant adaptation, or is it a wild meme that domesticated itself by attaching itself to whatever memes were competing for hosts in its neighborhood? Nobody knows, but now it is available for anybody to use -- although, if this book has any success, its virulence should diminish as people begin to recognize it for what it is.
- Daniel Dennett (2006) Breaking the Spell
- Some attitudes may be named... which are central in effective intellectual ways of dealing with subject matter. Among the most important are directness, open-mindedness, single-mindedness (or whole-heartedness), and responsibility.
- Openness of mind means accessibility of mind to any and every consideration that will throw light upon the situation that needs to be cleared up, and that will help determine the consequences of acting this way or that. Efficiency in accomplishing ends which have been settled upon as unalterable can coexist with a narrowly opened mind. But intellectual growth means constant expansion of horizons and consequent formation of new purposes and new responses. These are impossible without an active disposition to welcome points of view hitherto alien; an active desire to entertain considerations which modify existing purposes. Retention of capacity to grow is the reward of such intellectual hospitality. The worst thing about stubbornness of mind, about prejudices, is that they arrest development; they shut off the mind from new stimuli. Open-mindedness means retention of the childlike attitude; closed-mindedness means premature intellectual old age.
- People are very open-minded about new things - as long as they're exactly like the old ones.
- Attributed to Charles Kettering in: Ben Reed (2009) Future Technology in Law Enforcement. p. 15
- Throughout human history, as our species has faced the frightening, terrorizing fact that we do not know who we are, or where we are going in this ocean of chaos, it has been the authorities — the political, the religious, the educational authorities — who attempted to comfort us by giving us order, rules, regulations, informing — forming in our minds — their view of reality. To think for yourself you must question authority and learn how to put yourself in a state of vulnerable open-mindedness, chaotic, confused vulnerability to inform yourself.
- The word flexible however never means weakness but something more like adaptability and open-mindedness. Gentleness always overcomes strength.
- Intellectual freedom is essential to human society — freedom to obtain and distribute information, freedom for open-minded and unfearing debate, and freedom from pressure by officialdom and prejudices. Such a trinity of freedom of thought is the only guarantee against an infection of people by mass myths, which, in the hands of treacherous hypocrites and demagogues, can be transformed into bloody dictatorship. Freedom of thought is the only guarantee of the feasibility of a scientific democratic approach to politics, economy, and culture.
But freedom of thought is under a triple threat in modern society—from the deliberate opium of mass culture, from cowardly, egotistic, and philistine ideologies, and from the ossified dogmatism of a bureaucratic oligarchy and its favorite weapon, ideological censorship. Therefore, freedom of thought requires the defense of all thinking and honest people.
- Andrei Sakharov (1968) Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom