by Mel Griffith
Have you ever noticed how many things there are that "everybody knows" but can't actually prove? The reason they can't prove them is that they are usually wrong. But nobody needs to prove them because "everybody already knows" they are right even though they aren't. Eventually people figure out that what they thought they knew wasn't right, but each generation seems to come up with a few new things they are sure are right until a future generation decides they aren't.
Everybody, except for a few demented agitators, once knew that women shouldn't vote. My grandmother, who got the right to vote in 1920 and lived until 1956, never voted because she knew that elections were men's business which women should not interfere in. When I was growing up everybody in my neighborhood knew that God intended the races to be kept separate, and that's why he made them different colors. When I was a child it was explained to us that doctors brought babies in their black bags and that cows found their calves in the pasture, because back then everyone knew that it would be very harmful to children for them to know any biology.
At a later time just about all educators knew that it would seriously disrupt school if boys were allowed to wear long hair and beards and teachers wasted untold amounts of time and turned hordes of students into enemies harassing them about it. This foolishness finally went away, only to be replaced by the dress code fad, in which we are assured that students will be much smarter if required to dress to suit the teacher's taste.
When there were proposals about 1970 to end the military draft virtually every general assured us that our national defense would crumble without it. The Reserve Officers Association, of which I am a life member practically went into hysterics over the issue. After discovering how much better the military worked with all the folks who didn't want to be there out of the way, the military is almost 100% against a draft and the ROA magazine is now filled with opposition to it. Of course, the military establishment back then also knew that women had no business in the service academies or in units anywhere near the fighting.
When folks who have figured out that something that everybody knows isn't right, the usual response of those who still "know" is to start handing out rules and regulations to enforce their view of what is correct.
When so many things that were accepted as facts have turned out to be wrong, it is a good idea for all of us to listen carefully to new ideas. We should make sure that the reason we believe what we believe is not just that someone else believes it. A careful examination of what "everybody knows" is the basis of progress.