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Monday, November 2, 2009

From A Scandal in Bohemia

'Quite so,’ he answered, lighting a cigarette, and throwing himself down into an armchair. ‘You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear. For example, you have frequently seen the steps which lead up from the hall to this room.’


‘How often?’

‘Well, some hundreds of times.’

‘Then how many are there?’

‘How many! I don’t know.’

‘Quite so. You have not observed. And yet you have seen. That is just my point. Now, I know that there are seventeen steps, because I have both seen and observed.
People are, I swear, continually doing this very thing. They look right at something, and it's as though it doesn't exist. Or, rather, it does exist, but they don't bother to notice anything in particular about it. It's as though our society has collectively refused to so much as begin to think.

I'm not telling you that I go around counting the steps on the stairs I climb. Far from it. But I am telling you that the number of times that I become aware, in mid-discussion, that my conversational partner has made up his mind without bothering to pay attention to the evidence, is growing all the time. Occasionally, they will even admit it! "I don't care what the transcript shows, so-and-so is still mean!"

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