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Unos principios de crédito sirven de despertar la curiosidad, no de empeñar el objecto. Mejor sale quando la realidad excede al concepto y es más de lo que se creyó. Faltará esta regla en lo malo, pues le ayuda la mesma exageración; desmiéntela con aplauso, y aun llega a parecer tolerable lo que se temió extremo de ruin.
Honorable beginnings should serve to awaken curiosity, not to heighten people’s expectations. We are much better off when reality surpasses our expectations, and something turns out better than we thought it would. This rule does not hold true for bad things: when an evil has been exaggerated, its reality makes people applaud. What was feared as ruinous comes to seem tolerable.
–Baltasar Gracián y Morales, Oráculo manual y arte de prudencia § 19 (1647)(J. Jacobs transl. 1892)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
From the June 2014 issue
Estimated total calories members of Congress burned giving Bush’s 2002 State of the Union standing ovations:
A fertility scientist named Panayiotis Zavos announced that he had created human-cow embryos that were theoretically viable, but denied that he planned to allow such a hybrid to be implanted in a woman’s womb. “We are not trying to create monsters,” he said.
A statistician determined that the five most common first names among New York City taxi drivers are Md, Mohammad, Mohammed, Muhammad, and Mohamed.
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”