Louden Swain: Can 800 million people be wrong?
Nice missive on why the 'majority opinion' decision rule (a.k.a. democracy) is problematic. Humans are social beings, and we have a strong need to belong. However, this need to belong often finds ourselves abandoning the search for truth in favor of conforming to what other people think.
Those who refuse to comply with majority opinion are seen as being behind the times, social deviants, or just plain crazy.
Yet, as the author notes, the majority opinion is usually wrong, particularly at society's pivotal moments. Great discoveries and innovations are always the product of individual thought that breaks from the majority view.
Motivation to think creatively in groups is low. Instead, collectives are prone to groupthink that aims to preserve their institutions at all costs. This groupthink takes the form of propaganda, lies, and deceit.
As noted many times on these pages, America was born as a republic, not as a democracy. In a republic, the rights of individuals are protected so as to not be subject to the mood swings of the masses.
As the author correctly observes, even if 99%+ of all people believe that, say, certain forms of weaponry should be abolished, such a strong majority opinion does not make it true or legitimate. Minorities that believe otherwise are not required to conform to majority opinion.
This country was founded on the principle of individual liberty. A free person is not held hostage to 51% of the population, or any other claimed percentage.
When a politician claims that the majority of people favor gun control or other government sponsored initiatives, a free person responds, "So what?"