I found the above Latin axiom in a book published in 1970 which was a translation of a German title, Ich und Du  .  It is understandable that not many visitors to this web site are fluent in German so I will quickly add the fact that this book was titled:  I and Thou and was written by Martin Buber and conveniently translated by Walter Kaufmann.  Page 9 of this little book caught my eye while sorting through some of my treasures and I could not help but consider this as a portion to dole out in this web page.
       "Mundus vult decipi -- the world wants to be deceived.  The truth is too complex and frightening; the taste for the truth is an acquired taste that few acquire.
        "Not all deceptions are palatable.  Untruths are too easy to come by, too quickly exploded, too cheap and ephemeral to give lasting comfort.  Mundus vult decipi; but there is a hierarchy of deceptions.
        "Near the bottom of the ladder is journalism: a steady stream of irresponsible distortions that most people find refreshing although on the morning after, or at least within a week, it will be stale and flat.
        "On a higher level we find fictions that men eagerly believe, regardless of the evidence, because they gratify some wish.
        "Near the top of the ladder we encounter curious mixtures of untruth and truth that exert a lasting fascination on the intellectual community."
   

     I hope you are still with me and have continued reading to this line.  Did you catch anything in the way of a HINT as to where I am going with this thought -- and the Latin axiom?  How about our penchant perambulations to peck out WARNINGS and VIRUS THREATS to our friends about the Government FINALLY taking over the e-mail system and even AUTHENTICATE it with the statement that there is a Bill 601-1/4 that has been through this house and that house and unless we send this letter to 37 friends of our ours we will have our freedoms taken away just like the guns were collected in Poland in 1939.  Give me a break.  I happen to believe, though, that the same philosophy that was found in the speech Ronald Reagan made when campaigning for Barry Goldwater in the 1960's  IS TRUE.  In case you might need a mental jog, that quote is:  "If a government is big enough to give you everything you want, it is strong enough to take everything you have."  THAT IS TRUE and you better put it in a safe place for keeping.  But the fact that SOMEONE WROTE ME that e-mail is now going to cost 5 cents is a good case that proves Mundus vult decipi.

     May I further dare say that it is often embarrassing to me to receive such evangelistic pleas for me to watch out for this virus or that ominous bill that our legislators are trying to foist on us when in reality it is a blatant LIE! Such bold face misinformation-type statements are the reason for the axiom, "If it sounds too good to be true, it is NOT true." Now, I can sink my teeth into that. How can honest and ethical Christians pass on such notices when in reality they DO NOT KNOW that the statement is true -- it is no different than the inane philosophy, "If it's printed in the paper it must be true."

     And taking this concept just a step or two deeper into getting into your face (please forgive me) is the idea that WHATEVER is on a CD (compact discs, not a Certificate of Deposit) is the gospel.  Genealogists and folk who are attempting to prove their ancestors were on the Mayflower pay good money for CD's just because they are sold by the professionals. I just want to ask two questions:  Is it a positively substantiated fact that the documentations are without error?   Were human beings involved in the records of said data?  If the answer to the 2nd question is YES, then I will trust in such a CD as much as I trust in the Tooth Fairy.  Since the computer has come into being, another pretty good axiom has been pronounced, "Garbage In -- Garbage Out".   If humans are involved, then we can assume that errors are (still) possible and just maybe all the "documented" data is not exactly acceptable as "the truth, the whole truth, so help me God."

      Yes, Martin Buber, "we like to be deceived".  But not this fellow.  I will rely on information I read based on a few more facts.  If I KNOW the individual whose work I am reading or if I know the real (true) facts about this person or event (date, time, circumstance, etc.)--of course I probably wouldn't be looking into such resources if I knew this, would I?   I believe the Bible to be the Word of God.  My belief in this is a good bit more defendable than my belief that the "facts" in the LDS or the Family Tree people's CDs.  The Bible has been around a little more than 20 years. I am just as certain that if a written date could be in error or someone's middle initial was not exactly clear then why should I believe it any more than I would believe I could sell the Brooklyn bridge for $37,000?

      PLEASE be careful in what you forward, copy or warrant in the way of virus threats, unwarranted statements -- let's find a place for ethics in this new electronic means of communication.

William B. Venrick
Lancaster, Ohio 

WANT A SMILE? (click here for a funny story...)


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