That is a simple rule, and easy to remember. When I, a thoughtful and unbiased Presbyterian, examine the Koran, I know that beyond any question every Mohammedan is insane; not in all things, but in religious matters. When a thoughtful and unbiased Mohammedan examines the Westminster Catechism, he knows that beyond any question I am spiritually insane. I cannot prove to him that he is insane, because you never can prove anything to a lunatic--for that is a part of his insanity and the evidence of it. He cannot prove to me that I am insane, for my mind has the same defect that afflicts his. All democrats are insane, but not one of them knows it; none but the republicans and mugwumps know it. All the republicans are insane, but only the democrats and mugwumps can perceive it. The rule is perfect; in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane. When I look around me I am often troubled to see how many people are mad. To mention only a few:

The Atheist, The Shakers, The Infidel, The Millerites, The Agnostic, The Mormons, The Baptist, The Laurence Oliphant The Methodist, Harrisites, The Catholic, and the other The Grand Lama's people, 115 Christian sects, the The Monarchists, Presbyterian excepted, The Imperialists, The 72 Mohammedan sects, The Democrats, The Buddhist, The Republicans (but not The Blavatsky-Buddhist, the Mugwumps), The Nationalist, The Mind-Curists, The Confucian, The Faith-Curists, The Spiritualist, The Mental Scientists, The 2,000 East Indian The Allopaths, sects, The Homeopaths, The Peculiar People, The Electropaths, The Swedenborgians,

The--but there's no end to the list; there are millions of them! And all insane; each in his own way; insane as to his pet fad or opinion, but otherwise sane and rational.

This should move us to be charitable toward one another's lunacies. I recognise that in his special belief the Christian Scientist is insane, because he does not believe as I do; but I hail him as my mate and fellow because I am as insane as he--insane from his point of view, and his point of view is as authoritative as mine and worth as much. That is to say, worth a brass farthing. Upon a great religious or political question the opinion of the dullest head in the world is worth the same as the opinion of the brightest head in the world--a brass farthing. How do we arrive at this? It is simple: The affirmative opinion of a stupid man is neutralised by the negative opinion of his stupid neighbour--no decision is reached; the affirmative opinion of the intellectual giant Gladstone is neutralised by the negative opinion of the intellectual giant Cardinal Newman--no decision is reached. Opinions that prove nothing are, of course, without value--any but a dead person knows that much. This obliges us to admit the truth of the unpalatable proposition just mentioned above--that in disputed matters political and religious one man's opinion is worth no more than his peer's, and hence it follows that no man's opinion possesses any real value. It is a humbling thought, but there is no way to get around it: all opinions upon these great subjects are brass-farthing opinions.

It is a mere plain simple fact--as clear and as certain as that 8 and 7 make fifteen. And by it we recognise that we are all insane, as concerns those matters. If we were sane we should all see a political or religious doctrine alike, there would be no dispute: it would be a case of 8 and 7--just as it is in heaven, where all are sane and none insane. There there is but one religion, one belief, the harmony is perfect, there is never a discordant note.

Under protection of these preliminaries I suppose I may now repeat without offence that the Christian Scientist is insane. I mean him no discourtesy, and I am not charging--nor even imagining--that he is insaner than the rest of the human race.

The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg and other Stories Page 48

Mark Twain

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