Approach the telling of the truth with circumspection – Mencken quote.

“For the habitual truth-teller and truth-seeker, indeed, the world has very little liking. He is always unpopular, and not infrequently his unpopularity is so unpopular, and is so excessive that it endangers his life. Run your eye back over the list of martyrs, lay and clerical: nine-tenths of them, you will find, stood accused of nothing worse than honest efforts to find out and announce the truth. Even today, with the scientific passion become familiar in the world, the general view of such fellows is highly unfavorable. The typical scientist, the typical critic of institutions, the typical truth-seeker in every field is held under suspicion by the great majority of men, and variously beset by posses of relentless foes. If he tries to find out the truth about arteriosclerosis, or surgical shock, or cancer, he is denounced as a scoundrel by the Christian Scientists, the osteopaths and the anti-vivisectionists.

If he tries to tell the truth about the government, its agents seek to silence and punish him. If he turns to fiction and endeavors to depict his fellow men accurately, he has the Comstocks on his hands. In no field can he count upon a friendly audience, and freedom from assault. Especially in the United States is his whole enterprise viewed with bilious eye. The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth. A Galileo could no more be elected President of the United States than he could be elected Pope of Rome. Both high posts are reserved for men favored by God with an extraordinary genius for swathing the bitter facts of life in bandages of soft illusion.”

– H.L. Mencken (originally published in The New York Evening Mail, 1918)

Cooke, A. (1990) The Vintage Mencken. USA, Vintage Books. (pp 72 – 73)


~ by Fluxosaurus on July 30, 2011.

One Response to “Approach the telling of the truth with circumspection – Mencken quote.”

  1. This will no doubt make Mencken very unpopular, as he speaks the truth. But truth seekers do not seek the truth for the sake of being popular or otherwise, but only to know what it is. If this makes them unpopular, then so be it! For no matter how they are viewed, it will not alter the truth of anything.
    PS. Hope you had a great trip!

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