Regarding your thoughts on habitual ideas Karla…I thought you might enjoy the following quotes.

Thomas Kuhn, in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, wrote that an accepted body of knowledge “does not aim for novelties of fact or theory, and, when successful, finds none.” (p52)

Even when confronted by severe and prolonged failure “though they may begin to lose faith and then to consider alternatives, they do not renounce the paradigm that has led them into crisis.” (p77)

J.K. Galbraith, in The Affluent Society, sought to explain the persistence of “the conventional wisdom”. He wrote that “Numerous factors contribute to the acceptability of ideas. To a very large extent, of course, we associate truth with convenience – with what most closely accords with self-interest and personal well-being or promises best to avoid awkward effort and unwelcome dislocation of life. We also find highly acceptable what contributes most to self-esteem.” (p7)

“Ideas are inherently conservative,” he concluded. “They yield not to the attack of other ideas but to the massive onslaught of circumstances with which they cannot contend.” As a result. “like the Old Guard, the conventional wisdom dies but does not surrender.” (p17, p12)

Sources: Thomas S. Kuhn 1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Third edition 1996, The University of Chicago Press
 J.K. Galbraith, The Affluent Society (1958) Penguin Books edition 1999

The short answer is that habitual ideas often provide pay-offs, in career, prestige, income, power and convenience etc for those who hold them. These ideas become part of people’s identity, so its not surprising they defend them to the death. Such ideas are rarely defeated by frontal attack…they have to be slowly exterminated by the social triumph of better ideas!

– Les
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