As some of you know, a year ago I created the wordspy community, which republishes Paul McFedries' almost-daily WordSpy. WordSpy looks for neologisms in current English usage.
The neologism for today is 'incestuous amplification'.
I love this concept. Or rather, I hate it. Incestuous amplification is appallingly common, it is intellectual laziness and cowardice, and it is responsible for a great deal of mischief in this world.
This concept is not new. One of the finest, most bitter statements of the tendency of the human mind to lazily form its opinions based on those of its peers is Mark Twain's essay 'Corn-pone Opinions'. Or as Twain's character puts it, "You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I'll tell you what his 'pinions is."
Opinions, says Twain, are not formed logically or rationally by considering facts or proposing hypotheses to fit them; rather, most people's opinions are simply borrowed from their peers. One holds whatever opinions will help one get along one's peer group. Read the whole thing, if you never have. (It's short). It's brilliant, bitter, merciless, nihilistic. And, sadly, true.
Twain was not the first to identify this intellectual problem either. Francis Bacon's 'Idols of the Cave' identifies pretty much the same problem.
Many years ago my mother paid a calligrapher to print and gild, in Old English letters, a quotation from Walter Lippmann, the great newspaper columnist, and had it framed. It was a birthday present for my father, who greatly admired that quotation.. Both mother and father are dead now, and the framed quotation has passed on to me, and hangs on my wall, where I see it every day. It says: "When all think alike, no one thinks very much." Lippmann had observed much the same thing as Twain and Bacon.
None of them knew how to fix it. Nor do I.
責任 == sekinin == responsibility
|Bottom radical is 'shell/money'. Henshall suggests remembering the top radical as a variant of 'growth' (生), and as a mnemonic: 'Growing money debts mean growing liability.'|