The Experts in Plato’s Cave: Fear of learning the truth

Plato’s Cave Wall

When things start getting disjointed and the pressure starts blurring reality, I always turn to books for clarity—the process of reading books levels out the mind in very productive ways.  I don’t care if it’s a comic book; reading anything helps solve many thought problems.  And that is certainly the case in the news these days, where various Covid variants are scaring people into looking at everything but the fundamental issues of politics.  I told everyone what was coming when we started learning about Dr. Fauci and his connection to China, how China has long ago declared war on America. Still, we have not matched that aggression, and then there are election fraud problems from the 2020 elections.  There are some big topics out there that could topple our government in a very negative way.  There is some bad stuff going on that is now well out of control, so the perspective is needed. That’s when I turn to books to solve problems, and it always works.  Doing extensive reading brought my mind back to an old topic, the Cave Analogy from Plato’s Republic, a favorite.   In the video above, I explain it and how it applies to the politics of our times.  The problem we all have is that we know what is making the shadows on the cave wall. Still, we have an expert class that insists on staying in control of what we see and hear, even though their information is entirely irrelevant for 2021 sensibilities.

If you haven’t heard it before, this problem of experts attempting to shape reality based on their limited perspective is not a new problem.  It goes back several thousand years to around 375 BC to the times of the Greeks when they were trying to figure out how to operate a Republic as a form of government.  The assumption is that we are all chained to a pole looking at a cave wall and behind us in a cave is a fire burning.  Behind us are people walking around, for which we have never seen.  All we know of them is the shadows they cast on the cave wall.  Other people chained with us to a pole facing in the same direction have learned to predict the movements of the shadows on the cave wall depending on what time of day it was.  Again, not knowing that the shadows are caused by people moving about out of our sight.  Well, one person eventually manages to get loose and turn around and see for themselves the source of the shadows.  Breaking free, they attempt to tell the others tied to the poles what can be seen, but the experts don’t want people to pay attention.  So, the freed person goes by themselves into the world beyond the fire into the people moving about, talking with them, and learning who they are.  Eventually, the person finds themselves moving out of the cave altogether, and outside they see the sun and the more significant evidence of civilization.    

This evidence of reality provokes excitement, so the freed person returns to their colleagues tied to the pole and tells them what was seen outside the cave.  This causes anger from the experts because the threat to them is genuine.  Their entire value in existence has been to predict when the shadows will appear on the cave wall and determine their movements.  Obtaining a higher knowledge of what makes the shadows destroys everything that gives power to their lives, and they find it threatening.  They would much prefer to keep the public ignorant to be important by predicting the shadows on the cave wall.  Learning what makes the shadows for such people is the worst thing in the world.  Well, that pretty much spells out the problems of our modern times.  We have a lot of people in politics who make good livings predicting what the shadows will do.  But we live in a time where information is abundant, and we don’t need experts to tell us what things mean.  We have decentralization of information, and if one expert class attempts to keep us facing a direction we don’t want to be facing, we have the choice to look somewhere else anyway.  If we’re going to know what causes the shadows, we can look for ourselves.  That is the tension of our current political world.

Literature is such a good method of resolving problems because, as in the Allegory of the Cave, Plato had the same issues then as we do now.  There is nothing new about what we see out of the behavior of humanity.  There might be some modern tapestries to what we see, but the essence is always the same.  But what we should expect is to learn from history so that we don’t keep repeating it.  I think we can feel sympathy for those experts who only see the value of their lives in predicting where the shadows come from.  Or we can hate them for their attempt to control us.  Dr. Fauci comes to mind, a government expert who has spent his whole life predicting shadows and trying to scare us into behavior the government desired.  For him, we long ago untied ourselves and could see what was causing the shadows, even as the government has insisted that we not look behind us to where the fire cast its shadows.  Notice how we are talking about a Covid variant, but we never talk about a natural solution such as hydroxychloroquine. That’s when you know the expert class doesn’t care about you; all they do care about is their retention of power, their ability to scare you into behaving the way they want you to do, and they use the shadows to do it.  Once you know what causes the shadows, the experts lose all their power.

We have the same problem with the election fraud deniers, who want to look at the cave wall and let the experts translate what we see.  The election fraud of 2020 happened in the world beyond the fire, so the shadows of their existence don’t even show up on the cave wall.  Yet it happened all the same.  It just occurred beyond the vision of what we are looking at.  If we get up and away from our pole and look, we’ll see the evidence in the corner of the cave just beyond the firelight.  It’s not that the evidence isn’t there, but the experts expect to hide it from us by keeping our perspective from turning around and seeing it.  Because if we do get up and see for ourselves, the experts lose their power, which is terrifying.  Then what will happen to them once we realize how much we have been lied to.  For all those reasons and more, I love time with my books.  They are not connected to the internet.  Nobody is tracking what I’m reading by keystrokes.  It’s just me and my book in my reading chair.  If all the power in the world went out, I would still be fine and able to read history and reflect upon it.  And that is very empowering, especially in times like this.  But knowing something is only half the battle.  The trick is in making history different based on what we’ve learned.  And that is what our next step will be. 

Rich Hoffman

Click to buy The Gunfighter’s Guide to Business

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