To what or whom do you ascribe authority to?

I think that’s why false quotes spread so well. They’re plausible even though inaccurate, and they’re powerful when they reflect something we want to hear.

Look at the number of fake Tesla or Einstein quotes… so many people put words in the mouths of people who can’t defend themselves.

What makes it harder is when these quotes are published in books and time passes:

I had a particular difficulty tracking down a bad Einstein quote last year. I believe he’d said it and yet SOMETHING about it seemed “off”.

When I finally found what I think was the source, it was a book in the 1980s by an Indian guru.

The interesting thing about Indian gurus – some of them at least – is that they’re very free at attributing their own words to famous dead people.

It works in their philosophy because, if all is one and we are all but mouthpieces of the same voice, does it matter in the end to whom the words are attributed?

It’s a different outlook than we’re accustomed to but they can perfectly justify it from their philosophy. I’m not saying all Indian gurus do that, but the ones that got popular enough to get translated into English… it sure seems to be a pattern. [unless it was just one guru i keep tripping over

I’d agree with the quote credibility and Milgram connection, but I don’t think the concept of God nor belief in such _necessarily_ is related to a need for authority.

It depends, I think one one’s conception of God. Not all views are authority based.

Also, the Milgram connection can be turned around by our appeals to scientific authority, to Wikipedia, or to any proofs that we offer that aren’t personal.

To what or whom do you ascribe authority to?

It can sometimes be difficult to disentangle.


At another time and place, a good Bible quote might be enough to convince someone.

In today’s world, a Wikipedia entry or a Scientific result can serve the same purpose.


It works disturbingly well. “Scientists say”. “Statistics show”. Think of people who have a particular ideology and have their short list of Scientific papers they continually thrust forward to suit their agenda?

Then again, even number of citations isn’t a guarantee either , as the scientific community can suffer from fads just like any human endeavor.


In the end, it’s the ancient art of Rhetoric. Rhetoric was the highest and most difficult study in the University of Constantinople in Byzantium and while we like to play the shell game and call things that are Rhetoric by other names, they’re convincing points – Rhetoric. Rhetoric isn’t a bad thing: it’s the art and skill of convincing. But when someone says, “Look at the evidence! It unequivocally.shows that….” – they’re doing Rhetoric.



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