People will accept obvious nonsense on authority

Today people are satisfied with many things because certain incorrect theories have made the illusions far greater than they really need be. I have often quoted a characteristic example. Children in their 12th, 13th, and 14th years are told that lightning comes from friction in the clouds and it is admitted at the same time that the clouds are wet. Of course they are; but then when it is a matter of producing the electric spark which is the earthly replica of the lightning, it is found necessary to keep the electrical apparatus and everything belonging to it perfectly dry in order that no water of any kind is present; so that it comes to this — the only thing that is present when the lightning originates, is removed and yet the lightning is the same phenomena as the electric spark!

Children and grown up people are quite satisfied to be lulled to sleep with all kinds of hypotheses of this kind. There are innumerable examples of the same kind where people will accept obvious nonsense simply on authority and yet in our days there is much talk of the laying aside of all authority — people say that they are no longer credulous of’ authority. Yet as a matter of fact if they had been so credulous it would have been quite impossible for the Marxian-Socialistic world conception to arise in our epoch, for it is far more credulous of authority even than ancient Catholicism!

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 192 – The Necessity for New Ways of Spiritual Knowledge – Lecture 2 – Stuttgart, September 28, 1919