I’ve been working my way through my summer reading list. I came across a gem of a quote in Jacob Bronowski’s Science and Human Values. Bronowski quotes mathematician W. K. Clifford who argues that unscientific beliefs are bad even if they are not directly harmful:
If I let myself believe anything on insufficient evidence, there may be no great harm done by the mere belief; it may be true after all, or I may never have occasion to exhibit in in outward acts. But I cannot help doing this great wrong towards Man, that I make myself credulous. The danger to society is not merely that it should believe wrong things, though that is great enough; but that it should become credulous. [Emphasis added]
Fabricating negative consequences is almost certainly part of human nature. But even so, I wish there were some space in public discourse for honesty like Clifford’s. For us to be able to admit that we find some things wrong even if there is no great harm done.