fiction, story or theory that is taken to
explain something, if only metaphorically,
but in fact involves assumptions of things
that do not exist.
It is important to note at least three things about myths:
1. One man's myth is another man's truth and yet another man's
superstition or madness. Put otherwise: There have been many myths, in
religion, politics, superstitions, popular thinking, literature and what the
media produce, while the value of a myth differs between those who believe in
it and those who don't, and also between those who recognize it as a myth but
support it as a useful fiction, and those who oppose it.
Two examples of myths of great human importance are the myths of nations
and the myths of racism.
2. Most men, very probably all men, however
rational and careful,
believe some myths, simply because social education, religious education and
the ideologies of
societies are fundamentally oriented around myths
to the effect that the society, the religion, the political party or ideal, or
the leaders or originators of these groups, are
good, important, superior, or
else that the opponents of these groups are bad,
evil, inferior or otherwise
It should be noted that around every prominent public
soon is evolved at least a kind of mythology, of stories that are widely
diffused, and even if partially true also partially false because they are
told for emotional effect, and manufactured to be striking or to support the
interests or claims of a particular group, religion or ideology.
Thus, there are myths of religious founders, like Jesus and Mohamet; of
political leaders or originators, like Marx, Lenin, Hitler,
Stalin; myths of
nations, generally to the effect that Our Nation and
Our People are in diverse
ways obviously Better than any other Nation or People; myths of races,
generally to the effect that human beings of other races are inferior, morally
and intellectually, not to be trusted, and less capable of feeling
so more easily destroyed); and also myths of gender, to the effect that Males
(Females) are clearly superior to Females (Males), or intrinsically incapable
of real mutual understanding.
3. The attraction of myths is that they are manufactured for
emotional effect, and not for factual truth, but usually told as if they are
true or self-evident, and something "everybody knows". The danger of myths is
that many millions of men have believed in them and have either murdered or
been murdered because of them.