Every generally held idea, every received notion, will be an idiocy, because it has been able to appeal to a majority
The great defect of people, for Chamfort, consisted in the public’s reluctance to submit its thinking to the rigors of rational examination, and its tendency to rely instead on intuition, emotion, and custom.
“One can be certain that every generally held idea, every received notion, will be an idiocy, because it has been able to appeal to a majority,” the Frenchman observed,
Adding that what is flatteringly called common sense is usually little more than common nonsense, suffering as it does from simplification and illogicality, prejudice and shallowness: “The most absurd customs and the most ridiculous ceremonies are everywhere excused by an appeal to the phrase, 'but that’s the tradition'.”
It has been said that when people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate one another. We look to others for information about what is right or good to do in a given situation, and this social proof shapes everything from the products we buy to the candidates we vote for.
The leaders fulfilled the anthropological obligation of an alpha, to protect the tribe, and in return, the people repaid that protection with an intense loyalty, wanting to do whatever they can to help.
There is such pressure in the West to be likable that people often reconfigure their entire personality depending on the person they’re dealing with.
In an event such as the Soccer World Cup, the phenomenon of increased identification with the team and greater national pride has been referred to as the “feel-good effect at mega sports events“. Such events facilitate social connections and have an influence on our emotions: they are sources of joy and frustration, anger and pride, depression and enthusiasm; and ultimately affect what psychologist call the “subjective well-being” – which is, as a key concept in positive psychology, our own appreciation of one’s life in global terms.