Making an idea's authority coequal to popular acceptance is an invitation down the path back to more primitive belief systems.
In the modern era up to this point, we have come to believe in a steady, almost inevitable advancement of human knowledge over time. But if the proverbial "marketplace of ideas" becomes no different from the market for any other consumer product, this kind of dependable gain may longer be quite so assured.
If carried to its logical conclusion, our contemporary practice of conferring authority via marketing success may mean that the most telling harbinger of what's to come is actually something called "Creation Science," which is currently gaining favor among certain fundamentalist Christians.
"Creation Science" lets the faithful feel brightly up-to-date by finally acknowledging that dinosaurs existed, yet still remain true to their literalistic interpretation of the Bible, by having dinosaurs live side-by-side with humans in a kind of "Flinstonian Epoch, " and then be be included among the animals that Noah is said to have marched two-by-two up the ramp into the ark.
The growing popularity of this view reflects an admirably sound grasp of marketing principles. Among other things, it has a well-targeted audience, and is easily assimilated among other beliefs that the audience already holds.
But is this really the direction in which we want human explication of the world around us to move?
(c) COPYRIGHT 1998 ROBERT WINTER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.