The conscious and informed defense of falsehoods has been part of human behavior since the garden of Eden1. It has allowed the protection of personal, corporate, and national interests. It developed into a well-oiled machinery that shapes minds and recruits enchanted followers.
In 1883, Thomas Huxley delivered a speech where he stated that “Any tendency to over-fishing will meet with its natural check in the diminution of supply, (…) this check will always come into operation long before anything like permanent exhaustion has occurred.”
Huxley, a strong supporter of Darwin’s Origin of Species and of the concept of natural selection might have honestly and ingenuously defended such views although he held a paid position as a member of the UK Royal Commission on the Sea Fisheries. More than 100 years later, individuals, corporations, and nations keep on dismissing the irreversible nature of extinction.
As Mark Kurlansky so well puts it “Man wants to see nature and evolution as separate from human activities. There is the natural world, and there is man. But man also belongs to the natural world. If he is a ferocious predator, that too is a part of evolution. If cod and haddock and other species cannot survive because man kills them, something more adaptable will take their place. Nature, the ultimate pragmatist, doggedly searches for something that works. But as the cockroach demonstrates, what works best in nature does not always appeal to us” – Cod, Mark Kurlansky, Vintage Books, London.
1 – Added for narrative purposes – not a believer.