The Degeneration of Belief

Quotations on Fanaticism and Dogmatism

Compiled By Laird Wilcox

Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. AMBROSE BIERCE (1842-1914), The Devil's Dictionary, 1881-1914.

Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the liberal, who wishes to replace them with others. AMBROSE BIERCE (1842-1914), The Devil's Dictionary, 1881-1914.

The true fanatic is a theocrat, someone who sees himself as acting on behalf of some super-personal force: the Race, the Party, History, the Proletariat, the Poor, and so on. These absolve him from evil, hence he may safely do anything in their service. LLOYD BILLINGSLY, Religion's Rebel Son: Fanaticism In Our Time, 1986.

Freedom of speech means that you shall not do something to people either for the views they express, or the words they speak or write. U. S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE HUGO L. BLACK (1886-1971), One Man's Stand For Freedom, 1963.

Freedom of the mind requires not only, or not even specially, the absence of legal constraints but the presence of alternative thoughts. The most successful tyranny is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity but the one that removes the awareness of other possibilities. ALAN BLOOM, The Closing of the American Mind, 1987.

One of he most constant characteristics of beliefs is there intolerance. The stronger the belief, the greater its intolerance. Men dominated by a certitude cannot tolerate those who do not accept it. GUSTAVE Le BON (1841-1931), Opinions And Beliefs, 1911.

There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists, open the door to tragedy. All information is imperfect. We have to treat it with humility. J. BRONOWSKI (1908-1974), The Ascent Of Man, 1973.

Propaganda by censorship takes two forms: the selective control of information to favour a particular viewpoint, and the deliberate doctoring of information in order to create an impression different from that originally intended. JAMES A. C. BROWN, Techniques of Persuasion, 1963.

Nowhere are prejudices more mistaken for truth, passion for reason, and invective for documentation than in politics. This a realm, peopled only by villains or heroes, in which everything is black or white and gray is a forbidden color. JAMES MASON BROWN (1900-1969), Through These Men, 1956.

This dream of absolute universal equality is amazing, terrifying and inhuman. And the moment it captures peoples minds, the result is mountains of corpses and rivers of blood, accompanied by attempts to straighten the stooped and shorten the tall. VLADIMIR BUKOVSKY, To Build A Castle, 1979.

An ideologue — one who thinks ideologically — can’t lose. He can’t lose because his answer, his interpretation and his attitude have been determined in advance of the particular experience or observation. They are derived from the ideology, and not subject to the facts. JAMES BURNHAM (1905-1987), Suicide Of The West, 1964.

The dearest ambition of a slave is not liberty, but to have a slave of his own. SIR RICHARD BURTON (1821-1890).