32     Chapter 2    
affect us, and some people do suffer if they do not accord with the
realities they claim to describe and predict. Both the rise and the fall of
communism demonstrate this.
      However, experience also shows that not everyone suffers if
incorrect and incoherent ideas prosper. We ourselves may get off scot-
free. Only other people may have to pay for our incoherence -- an
incoherence which we personally may find extremely convenient,
perhaps even essential.
      This immediately puts the problem into the 'moral realm,' a place
no one in these modern times can go, or even talk about, without being
immediately contradicted by a hundred other people.
      The 'grown-up' world really can't talk about moral issues, which
are, according to it, "private," or "subjective." So, if being
intellectually and scientifically coherent is actually a moral issue, then
the 'grown-up' world is, in a way, committed to the idea that we
shouldn't talk very much about the need to be coherent, at least in
polite company.
      In fact, such talk does often enough seem to lead to endless
disagreements, perhaps especially strong ones within an institution
purportedly devoted to ideas and coherence -- the modern university.
For outside of the sciences, it is a simple fact of academic life that
people even within the same academic department may disagree so
strongly, even about the most fundamental intellectual points, that
they've completely given up even discussing anything serious. They
may have adjoining offices, and be a universe apart in every
intellectual respect.
      If you have no direct experience of what I've just said about the
modern university, you are, of course, lucky. However, if you think
I've exaggerated the case, you're simply misinformed: enormous
intellectual incoherence really is a fact of life in many academic
departments in modern universities. (If you have weak nerves, don't
even try to imagine what the intellectual incoherence between
academic departments in a modern university might look like.)
      To complicate things further, our ability to live with fairly large
amounts of incoherence is, on balance, a very good thing. It would
probably be much worse for us if we were so hungry to be
intellectually consistent that we all automatically obeyed somebody
just because he claimed to have everything all figured out.
      For example, our ability to live with incoherence is our first line of
defense against Ben, when he argues that it is only "logical" for him to
'Ben' us. Our ability to simply ignore his 'proof' is a pretty good initial
defense against him.
      Thus, it is not so simple to make a grown-up, modern argument

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