"All the martyrs in the history of the world are not sufficient to establish the correctness of an opinion. Martyrdom, as a rule, establishes the sincerity of the martyr, — never the correctness of his thought. Things are true or false in themselves. Truth cannot be affected by opinions; it cannot be changed, established, or affected by martyrdom. An error cannot be believed sincerely enough to make it a truth."
Robert G. Ingersoll
(1833-1899) American lawyer, Civil War veteran, political leader, orator of United States during the Golden Age of Free Thought, nicknamed "The Great Agnostic"
The Great Infidels (1881)
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Reader comments about this quote:
"An error cannot be believed sincerely enough to make it a truth."
 -- anonymous     
     -- Mike, Norwalk      
    "Truth cannot be affected by opinions; it cannot be changed ..."

    Perhaps not, but REALITY is altered by opinions sculpted with lies all the time. Is that not at least as meaningful as what Ingersoll is getting at?

    The SIGNIFICANCE of truth, especially those 'truths' uncritically accepted by a nation, changes conspicuously when perceptions are based in opinions skillfully manipulated by deceit.

    An example of this can be found in these up-to-the-minute, All-American "truths": ISIS routinely beheads their victims. "Ooh bad, very bad - Dark Ages-type barbarism bad. They're bloody savages."

    Conversely, practically every day we see Pentagon killers ensconced at a base near Las Vegas sneaking up on their victims with drones, blowing them and whoever else may be in their presence - routinely infants - all to Kingdom Come. "Hurray! We're winning with technology! Give the drone operator (video game player) an Air Medal!"

    To the victims and those mourning them what the hell is the difference and which is worse? After all, dead is dead - the coldest truth of all.

    By the way, beheading leaves a much 'cleaner' murder scene than a drone attack does - what with gallons of blood and sundry body parts blown all over the place.

    High technology does NOT diminish barbarity or the will to kill. And it most certainly does not absolve the guilty of their crimes.

    That, my friends, is the truth.
     -- Mann, Kalamazoo     
     -- Robin, Spokane      
    I like the challenge of truth. And this quote challenges me to look carefully through my emotions to see the truth.
     -- Anonymous, Waco, tx     
    Yes - Martyrdom is an ad hominem of stance!
     -- Martin Foster, Centurion     
    I've lived for many moons and thought I was fairly smart, but Martin Foster, what on earth do you mean.
     -- jim k, austin tx     
    @Mann, perception is not reality. The goal of the 'programmers' is to condition your perception of reality to always be in alignment with their agenda, even to beg for more. We see it among the zealots, whether religious or secular.

    "To die for an idea: it is unquestionably noble.
    But how much nobler it would be if men died for ideas that were true." - HL Mencken
     -- E Archer, NYC     
     -- Mike, Pleasant Hill      
     -- Ronw13, Yachats Or      
    So many "opinions" in one place. All truths ?
     -- Bob, Charlotte, VT     
    @Archer: I never said perception was reality - however much it IS to one deceived. Henry Kissinger acknowledged that much when he said, "It's not a matter of what is true that counts but a matter of what is perceived to be true." A master propagandist, it's a concept he and the neocons have long used to great advantage.

    Huxley wrote, "The propagandist's purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human."

    As demonstrated by the juxtaposition of 'horrible' ISIS beheadings and 'acceptable' Pentagon drone murders, that awful "purpose" is wielded successfully over and over in America - without us ever seeming to recognize our own murderous flaws.

    Instead we adhere to a lying construct our politicians and media repeatedly intone: the US is the world's "indispensable" nation, her people the world's "exceptional" inhabitants.

    The rest of the world, especially our targeted nations, sees things quite differently - as they bloody well should.

    One had best be very, very careful indeed about which, no, WHOSE ideas and exhortations they're prepared to die for. A martyr's fiery motivations are invariably taught by an authority figure, not constructed through experience and critical investigation.
     -- Mann, Kalamazoo     
    @Mann, you won't get any argument from me that propaganda deceives people -- it is designed to make opinions, to condition responses, because without proper 'handing' the excuses and justifications just don't jive. While people may be affected by opinions, 'truth' can only be what it is, whether it is perceived or not. You seem to be using the word 'truths' to mean opinions. Truth is whatever is indeed true -- it is in no need of support, nor does it need to be known for it to be true. I agree with you also that terrorist executions pale in comparison to the millions bombed by the Pentagon. The entire Middle Eastern War can ONLY be maintained with constant propaganda.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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