Thursday, May 04, 2017


The Professions

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956), Minority Report (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1956), p. 132, § 181:
What is the function that a clergyman performs in the world? Answer: he gets his living by assuring idiots that he can save them from an imaginary hell. It is a business almost indistinguishable from that of a seller of snake-oil for rheumatism. As for a lawyer, he is simply, under our cash-register civilization, one who teaches scoundrels how to commit their swindles without too much risk. As for a physician, he is one who spends his whole life trying to prolong the lives of persons whose deaths, in nine cases out of ten, would be a public benefit. The case of the pedagogue is even worse. Consider him in his highest incarnation: the university professor. What is his function? Simply to pass on to fresh generations of numskulls a body of so-called knowledge that is fragmentary, unimportant, and, in large part, untrue.

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