If 50 million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.
Once a spider built a beautiful web in an old house. He kept it clean and shiny so that
flies would patronize it. The minute he got a "customer" he would clean up on
him so the other flies would not get suspicious. Then one day this fairly intelligent fly
came buzzing by the clean web. Old man spider called out, "Come in and
sit." But the fairly intelligent fly said, "No, sir. I don't see other flies in
your house, and I am not going in alone!"
But presently he saw on the floor below a
large crowd of flies dancing around on a piece of brown paper. He was delighted! He was
not afraid if lots of flies were doing it. So he came in for a landing. Just before he
landed, a bee zoomed by, saying, "Don't land there, stupid! That's flypaper!"
But the fairly intelligent fly shouted back, "Don't be silly. Those flies are
dancing. There's a big crowd there. Everybody's doing it. That many flies can't be
wrong!" Well, you know what happened. He died on the spot. Some of us want to be with
the crowd to badly that we end up in a mess. What does it profit a fly (or a person) if he
escapes the web only to end up in the glue?
Charles Swindoll, Living Above the Level of
Mediocrity, pp. 223-4.
In 1844 a medical doctor named Ignas Phillip Semmelweis, who was assistant director at
the Vienna Maternity Hospital, suggested to the doctors that the high rate of death of
patients and new babies was due to the fact that the doctors attending them were carrying
infections from the diseased and dead people whom they had previously touched. Semmelweis
ordered doctors to wash their hands with soap and water and rinse them in a strong
chemical before examining their patients. He tried to get doctors to wear clean clothes
and he battled for clean wards. However, the majority of doctors disagreed with Semmelweis
and they deliberately disobeyed his orders. In the late nineteenth century, on the basis
of the work by Semmelweis, Joseph Lister began soaking surgery instruments, the operating
table, his hands, and the patients with carbolic acid. The results were astonishing. What
was previously risky surgery now became routine. However, the majority of doctors
criticized his work also. Today we know that Lister and Semmelweis were right; the
majority of doctors in their day were wrong. Just because the majority believe one thing
does not necessarily mean it is true.