Great Minds Think a Lot

… and lesser ones too

Dear listeners, let me welcome you to our live feature here at Harlequin Radio on “Conspiracy Theories and Fake News”. Of course we have again invited guests, whom I will introduce to you in a moment, but please participate directly. Our lines have already been open for an hour and we look forward to your contributions. My name is the Harlequin von Zurich and today I am pleased to welcome as guests: Mark Twain, Frank Zappa and Oscar Wilde.

In this program we will discuss three different aspects of our topic and we’ll start with the question why more and more people are willing to put their faith in such theories. For this purpose, I would like first of all to make a provocative proposition and ask our guests to react to it.

Some commentators see our predicament as the result of a misguided education policy and think that there is a double lack of competence. First, the ability to identify fake news and conspiracy theories as such, and second, to recognise this lack of competence.

Mr. Zappa, may I perhaps ask you to comment on this.

FZ: Just because someone hears what you say or reads what you have written does not mean that you have reached them. Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is the best…

HvZ: I see. How do you see that, Mr. Twain?

MT: The right to stupidity is protected by the constitution. It is part of the guarantee of the free development of personality.

OW: Blessed are those who have nothing to say and still keep their mouths shut.

FZ: There is no reason to assume that my idea of what is better is really better. I get annoyed when others try to impose their ideas of superiority on me.

MT: We appreciate people who speak their mind freshly and openly – provided they think the same as we do.

HvZ: As I just heard from the control room, we have already collected some opinions from listeners, which I would like to share with you now.

Yes, good morning. My name is Orson Welles and I think that many would never speak with a full mouth, but do it with an empty head.

I’m calling from Rome and my name is Gaius Julius Caesar and I believe that men willingly believe what they wish.

Good morning. I am of the opinion: If an idea enters a hollow head, it fills it completely – because there is no other to compete with it. And my name is Charles-Louis de Montesquieu and I’m calling from Paris.

FZ: There is no hell. There is only France.

MT: Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.

HvZ: Let me share some more listener opinions.

Yes, I thought that now a woman must also have her say, so I’m calling from Austria. My name is Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach and I am convinced that he who knows nothing must believe everything.  

OW: It is a much cleverer thing to talk nonsense than to listen to it.

As a scientist and author, it is important to me to also consider the social aspect. My name is Isaac Asimov and I think that the saddest aspect at the moment is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.

A cynical, venal, demagogue press will, in time, create a people as wicked as they are.    That is my opinion. My name is Joseph Pulitzer and I am calling from New York.

FZ: Most journalism is people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, for people who can’t read.

Hello. I’m calling from Switzerland. My name is Carl Gustav Jung and I would support some of the previous speakers, because: Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.

Hello. I would like to contradict my compatriot from earlier. The man from Rome. Where information is missing, the rumours grow. That is my opinion. Alberto Moravia, also from Rome.

I’m calling from New York and I’m about to go to bed. My name is Thomas Alva Edison and as an entrepreneur and inventor I experienced that there is no expedient to which a man will not go to avoid the real labor of thinking

Good morning. I am calling from London. I would like to say something about the inventor just now. My name is Douglas Adams and the major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong, it usually turns out to be impossible to get at and repair. And I would like to add, as a general explanation, that there is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory according to which this has already happened.           

HvZ: Thank you very much to our listeners. Please allow me to briefly summarize the opinions due to the limited airtime. Our listeners see the main reasons in the individual, but the role of society, science and education policy are also questioned.

In the second part of our program, let us now focus on the question of which approaches to solving the issues addressed are possible. Mr. Twain, what opportunities do you see?

MT: All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence.

OW: Whenever people agree with me, I always feel I must be wrong.

FZ: Nobody looks good wearing brown lipstick.

HvZ: I see. Let’s allow a few additional listeners to have their say.

Yes, hello. Marie again. I called earlier and encourage you to consider the female view of things more strongly on this question as well. And therefore I proclaim: know that those who preach hatred to you do not redeem you.

Here is Alex Solzhenitsyn from Russia and I think the solution is always easy, you just have to find it.

Churchill my name. I am calling from Great Britain. Is my cigar bothering you? Haha. Just kidding. My motto is: to jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.

Men can eat anything, but they shouldn‘t know everything. That way you don’t get into a fix in the first place. Gertraud Geist is my name.

FZ: Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.

Hello, my name is Simpson. Homer Simpson. I would like to greet the nice Mr. Alex from Russia with the motto: Here’s to alcohol – the cause of and solution to all problems!

Where would we end up if everyone said, “Where would we end up?” and nobody went to see where you would go if you went. This is Kurt Marti from Bern.

How do you do? My name is Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and I am calling from Moscow and I would like to give the following advice: If it is not immediately obvious which political or social groups, forces or notables represent certain proposals, measures etc., one should always ask the question: Who benefits from it?

OW: Revolution is the successful effort to get rid of a bad government and to replace it by a worse.

I would like to voice my own opinion to Mr. Shimpshon’s statement. Martin my name. Hic! Dean Martin. You are not drunk as long as you can still lie on the ground without holding on.

Age gives you experience. Ovid my name; from Rome.

This is Joan Collins from Denver. I would like to respond to the two previous speakers. Age is just a number. It’s totally irrelevant unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine.

As usual, Greece comes off badly. So I would like to clarify our point of view:  it is the mark of an educated person to search for the same kind of clarity in each topic to the extent that the nature of the matter accepts it. This is my opinion and my name is Aristotle.

I would like to bring the Greek without a surname closer to the Empire’s view: Idealism increases in direct proportion to one’s distance from the problem. This message was delivered by John Galsworthy.

OW: My message to the Englishman is: It is so easy to convince others; it is so difficult to convince oneself.

HvZ: Thank you dear guests and listeners for these valuable contributions. Time is advancing so let me now move on to the last part of today’s program, where we want to deal with the question of what exactly should be done now. May I ask Mr. Twain to begin?

MT: The German language it ought to be gently and reverently set aside among the dead languages, for only the dead have time to learn it.

HvZ: And how do you see that, Mr. Zappa?

FZ: No way to delay. That trouble comin’ every day.

HvZ: So Mr. Zappa advocates a quick solution? What suggestions do our listeners have?

My name is Lodda Maddäus and we just can’t put the sand in our heads right now.

I would like to support good old Lothar. My name is Berti Vogts. I’m calling from Kaarst and I’m convinced that the league-leader can beat the frontrunner any time.

As a Parisian, I am in favor of keeping the kiss on the hand. After all, you have to start somewhere. Sacha Guitry is my name.

Hello. My name is Gertrud Höhler. As a woman and entrepreneur I have to reject this chauvinistic French gentleman‘s comment in the strongest possible terms. I counter this with one thing: Better seven times with Snow White than once with the dwarves.

As a woman with South American roots, I must insist on focusing on the role of the free press. You don’t get stupid, you stay stupid. Yours, Esther Vilar.

I can only agree with the previous speaker. What does not penetrate the masses is ineffective. My name is Karl Jaspers and I am calling for the first time in your program.

Yes, and good afternoon to the many listeners in Rome as well. My name is Marcus Tullius Cicero. I know from experience that there is no fortress so strong that money cannot take it.

Literature also has a role to play. My name is Karl Kraus and I am calling from Vienna. It is precisely since the beginning of the 20th century that we have learned that the secret of the agitator is to make himself as stupid as his listeners are, so that they believe they are as clever as he is.

I cannot follow the Austrian gentleman from just now. I am calling from France and my name is Marcel Marceau. To communicate through silence is a link between the thoughts of man. Of course, language is always an obstacle to understanding at first.

Johann Wolfgang is my name. I’m calling from Weimar and am in favor of consistent action. As Zenetti wrote: What nobody dares, you should dare. What no one says, then say it. What no one thinks, dare to think. What no one begins, you do it.

HvZ: Keeping an eye on the clock, it’s time to draw a conclusion. Our colleagues in the newsroom will have their say in a moment. Maybe one last listener  – with a request that they keep it short, and then a brief closing statement from our studio guests. So our last caller.

Heine is my name, from Düsseldorf. In my opinion, the Germans are a dangerous people: They unexpectedly pull a poem out of their pockets and start a conversation about philosophy.

HvZ: Thank you very much for your contribution Mr. Heine. Mr. Twain, your closing words please.

MT: A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

HvZ: Mr. Zappa and then Mr. Wilde, please.

FZ: A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work, if it is not open.

OW: It is personalities, not principles, that move the age.

HvZ: I would like to thank the study guests for coming and for their willingness to discuss with our audience. I would also like to thank our listeners for their opinions and their participation, even though of course not all callers could be connected to our studio. Time for the news and see you next time.

Original text: RGE
English translation: BCO

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