cern I have a said a number of times1 – to no great applause it must be said – that those who are “fooled” by the denialists and faux news and so on are mostly fooled because they are entirely happy to be fooled.

But now it turns out that I was definitely right, because there is a latin tag, Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur to express the same thing. Or more pithily, simply Mundus vult decipi.

I don’t think I’ve had a post as short as this for ages. Refreshing, isn’t it?

Notes

1. Although as it happens I can’t find many examples. Here is one.

Refs

* ‘When I Consider Life’ by John Dryden: When I consider Life, ’tis all a cheat; Yet, fool’d with hope, men favour the deceit.

Self refs

* The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time
* Article 50 ruling: Courts should never have got involved in Brexit, says dissenting judge
* Obama’s achievements
* Theatre review: An Inspector Calls
* Book review: All Hell Let Loose

Comments

  1. #1 ...and Then There's Physics
    2017/02/11

    I have a said a number of times1 – to no great applause it must be said – that those who are “fooled” by the denialists and faux news and so on are mostly fooled because they are entirely happy to be fooled.

    This sounds like a variant of Dan Kahan’s cultural cognition idea. As I undertstand it, those who are not really able to directly assess the credibility of what is presented will tend to trust those with whom they identify. This makes sense, but I would suggest that it’s not so much that they’re happy to be fooled, as them not really being in a position to work out if they’re being fooled, or not.

    [That is’t what I meant at all. I think that any number of anti-carbon-tax-voting-SUV-driving-redneck-type-stereotypes are all too well aware that they are inbibing fake news and/or infotainment; and that if they care, they could easily find more reliable sources. But they are uneasily aware of what those more reliable sources would tell them -W]

    Having said that, I do find the whole cultural cognition argument frustrating at times, as it is often used (or seems to be) to suggest that science communication is rather pointless, and I disagree; science communication is important even if it doesn’t convince those who are cultural pre-disposed to reject what is presented.

    [Agreed -W]

  2. #2 dave s
    2017/02/11

    ”[[Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur]]” allegedly means “The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived.”

    The world doesn’t want anything, as it is inanimate. The human population is divided, merchants of doubt want a voting majority to be deceived, and in certain states sufficient numbers in strategically important electorates are willing to be deceived. It’s worked, but don’t think it bodes well.

    [I wasn’t proposing that it was a good thing. But I think it is possible to over-emphasise the role of the Merchants of Doubt; they are selling what many people want to buy -W]

  3. #3 Marco
    2017/02/12

    As William notes, Merchants of Doubt are largely selling what people want to buy. Belief disconfirmation causes cognitive dissonance. Then there are two options: you either give up your belief, or you try and find information that helps you maintain your belief.

  4. #4 SteveP
    Merka
    2017/02/12

    My co-workers at a previous job were nearly universally against the concept that global warming could be real. The evidence I saw suggested to me that their religio-economic-patriotic, peer pressure reinforced value system would not let them even begin to set up a thought experiment that stipulated that global warming, (a concept espoused by environmentally minded, i.e., brain damaged people), could possibly be authentic. It seemed that in their cradle to grave life support and belief system, one had to be afraid of God, loyal to political party and economic system, and hate the wicked, and in their hierarchy of values, things like being imaginative and creating or testing hypotheses smelled heretical. At a surface level, these folks had very strong incentives to not know too much about their world, so I would say that they seemed happy to have their illusions unchallenged, which implies that they were happy with their illusions, and thus, happy to be deceived.

    In other news, sorry about your little weasel buddy there, W. But don’t worry. Be happy. Si nauta est in taberna, ubi sunt lupanaria? Or was I thinking of some other Latin expression? .

  5. #5 Hank Roberts
    at the reference desk again
    2017/02/12
  6. #6 Craig Thomas
    2017/02/12

    “”[[Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur]]” allegedly means “The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived.”
    The world doesn’t want anything, as it is inanimate. ”

    Correctly interpreting a foreign phrase relies on context.

    In this context, ‘mundus’ means people.

    The french still use the word “monde” in this way – “le monde” is the world, but “du monde” means a crowd of people.

  7. #7 Hank Roberts
    at the reference desk again
    2017/02/12

    > if they care, they could easily find more reliable sources

    True of those in power also. Look at all the bogus claims read into the Congressional Record, giving any Representative the excuse to claim to have been misinformed.

    Look at the captains of industry who maintain deniability for any responsibility for external costs by having employees who officially inform them of only those facts they wish to hear.

  8. #8 Paul Barden
    Cambridge
    2017/02/13

    “The world” means the same in English as in Latin or French. eg “the world and his wife”.

  9. #9 Marco
    2017/02/13

    In slightly related news, since we’re discussing languages and such:
    https://twitter.com/RadarNvrSleeps/status/761889243333529600

    [They appear to have missed out “soit” too -W]

  10. #10 Tom C
    2017/02/13

    …and the corollary to this is that it is only your political opponents that are fooled because they want to be. You are guided only by pure reasons and intentions.

    [No no, there is a fair bit of self-deception on the leftie side, generally when they attempt to talk about economics, as I think I’ve said fairly frequently here (you’re not going to force me to prove that, are you?) -W]

    Those of us who are old enough to have heard Paul Ehrlich et al warning of all manner of catastrophe and watching “progressives” believe every word of it are most amused.

    [ps: for no clear reason that I can recall, you were on moderation. You’re now off -W]

  11. #11 Hank Roberts
    at the reference desk again
    2017/02/13

    Is it true that all natives of Britan are refugees from the Doggerland inundation? And they paint themselves blue?

  12. #12 Hank Roberts
    at the reference desk again
    2017/02/13

    A potentially useful tool for moderators:

    https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/wikipedia-comments-destroyed-by-a-few-highly-toxic-users/

    [“These results suggest the problems associated with personal attacks do not have an easy solution” – hmm yes that may be why they haven’t been solved. That anons are more likely, but that registered are more of a problem, has been well known for some time now. But it’s biggest failing is to not realise that real incivility isn’t a problem; because you’ll get blocked for it. The biggest problem is “civil POV pushing” where people keep on and on and on, but carefully avoid using Naughty Words that trigger “oooh, rude” filters -W]

  13. #13 Hank Roberts
    at the reference desk again
    2017/02/13

    When discussing people who want to be fooled, don’t forget researchers and journal editors. This may be amusing, tho’ detailed and lengthy and chock full o’ citations:

    http://andrewgelman.com/2016/09/21/what-has-happened-down-here-is-the-winds-have-changed/

    Pertinent excerpt:

    “‘m reminded of the notorious “gremlins” paper by Richard Tol which ended up having almost as many error corrections as data points—no kidding!—but none of these corrections was enough for him to change his conclusion. It’s almost as if he’d decided on that ahead of time. And, hey, it’s fine to do purely theoretical work, but then no need to distract us with data….”

  14. #14 Tom C
    2017/02/13

    Thanks. “Moderation” did strike me as unjust.

    In my comment “you and “your” should have been “one” and “one’s”. I was not taking a whack at WC hisself.

  15. #15 President Trump
    2017/02/13

    [stoat, you asshole, you are out -TRUMP]

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