October 28, 2017
The other day I was sent a video of a young woman—elegant, attractive, and very self-confident—giving a seminar on how other young women, one of them the daughter of a friend, could and should change their lives for the better. In a way, I admired the leader of the seminar’s effrontery (just as I secretly admire Thomas Holloway’s). She spoke in pure, unadulterated clichés, practically contentless, but with such force of conviction that, if you discounted what she actually said, you might have thought that she was a person of profound insight with a vocation for imparting it to others. Her audience was as lambs to the slaughter, or at least to the fleece; they had paid a large sum of money to listen to mental pabulum that would make the recitation of a bus timetable seem intellectually stimulating.
On catching glimpses in the past of American television evangelists, it was always a cause of wonderment to me that anyone could look at or listen to them without immediately perceiving their fraudulence. This fraudulence was so obvious that it was like a physical characteristic, such as height or weight or color of hair, or alternatively like an emanation, such as body odor (incidentally, pictures of Guevara always suggest, to me at any rate, that he smelled). How could people fail to perceive it? Obviously, many did not, for the evangelists were very successful—financially, that is, the only criterion that counted for them.
But the attendees of the seminar of which I saw a video clip were well educated, and still they did not perceive the vacuity, and therefore the fraudulence, of the seminar that they attended at such great expense to themselves.
But was not my own surprise at their gullibility a manifestation of my own gullibility, in supposing that intelligence and education make a man wise, rather than more sophisticated in his foolishness?
But at least most of their victims were uneducated, relatively simple folk.