Is Obedience to Authority the Explanation?


QUESTION: Marty, your point is well taken that we instinctively seek a guru be it in forecasting or politics. We have to understand we are doing that in order to escape responsibility and are really followers. Do you have any idea why we do that so instinctively?


ANSWER: No. Perhaps it stems from the same concept that, as they say, if God did not exist, man would create him. Being a guru implies that you know everything about everything. It seems that the general expectation of a guru, appears to be defined as having some special access to some inner source of all-seeing, all-knowing, wisdom that, if mere mortals could only get close to, then all would be well. This does seems to have infected both analysts and politicians. Even in politics, society applies the same guru stupidity. Once a politician says one thing, they cannot possibly change positions. They will search someone’s statements 30 years ago to argue that was he real view. The press imposes this standard or never reversing a thought. It is curious.

Yet, it is strangely evident that we all change our opinions with time, for as time passes we gain experience and that is the foundation of knowledge. Perhaps we just do not want to think. Religion is an overpowering factor that often stops people from critical thinking and applying logic. If all religions assert that killing is a sin, then why is it OK if you are working for government as a policeman or a soldier as long as some higher-up orders you to do kill someone? The Germans put on trial after World War II said they were just following orders. Perhaps this is really just the “Obedience to Authority” as discovered by Stanley Milgram, whoi was inspired by those Germans saying they were just following orders.

We all acquire knowledge as we move through life. It is strange that people are searching for some guru who is never wrong be it a market analyst or a politician. Yet in medicine, it is typical to seek a “second opinion.” Curious, the different standards. I believe Mark Twain said it best.

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” — Mark Twain