Quoting a book review by J. Peter Pham in National Review, 31 Dec 2005:
Historian Robert Conquest recently pondered why so many of his fellow scholars had been for so long incapable of grasping the true nature of the Soviet regime. He concluded by blaming “a clerisy that has hardly heard of opinions other than those appearing to be…the acceptable expression of concern for humanity” and that has demonstrated “a strong tendency to silence those who disagree with one or another of the accepted beliefs.”
Can you think of an issue about which people pretend that there exists no “other” side, or that anyone who says, “Wait, I don’t think that’s what’s happening here, this evidence here suggests otherwise,” is a lunatic, or out to destroy humanity, the world, decency, puppies?
It’s so easy to slide into this kind of closed-mindedness. I believe what I believe, and I think I have good reasons for it. I enjoy finding other people who seem intelligent and well-spoken who share that belief. But from there it’s only a lazy little slip over into “ALL people who are intelligent and well-spoken WILL share this belief; everyone else is an evil slug.”
I suspect many readers not only thought of a great example of such narrow-minded idea bigots, but also assume that most smart, “good”, and well-informed people would agree.
So, for instance, if you believe “Bush lied, kids died” is an accurate and pithy explanation of the current conflict in and over Iraq, you thought “stupid/evil neocon warmongers”. If, on the other hand, you think “Global warming is a Commie plot”, you thought “stupid/evil Gore-cult worshipers”.
But the point I’m trying to make here is that if I (or you) begin to think that nobody in their right mind could disagree with my example “clerisy of narrow minds”, then I’ve slipped into the same mindset, thus joining one myself.
p.s. – I know that I’m a card-carrying member of about 14 different “clerisies” myself. But I’m working on escaping. Are you?