top of page

Ridicule Before Reverence

"But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house." - The Gospel of Mark, 6:4. 

Have you ever come across an idea for the first time ever, and almost instantly recognized it's validity? I heard the phrase "ridicule before reverence" for the first time this week during a podcast episode, and immediately saw how it applied in many different ways, in many different eras. 

Peter Thiel popularized the thoughtful question, "what important truth do very few people agree with you on?" At first glance, this may seem easy to answer. But as you dig in, you'll see that group-think rules most debates and some of the biggest questions in life. Most 'truth' that you believe was handed down to you, or mimetic in nature, meaning you learned by copying or adopting 'truths' from others. 

But sometimes, big breakthroughs require challenging the status quo. 

Jesus of Nazareth faced ridicule from zealous Jewish counterparts who thought the Jewish nation would only rise to its former glory if the Jews would follow tradition, win God's favor, and rise up against the Roman Empire. Jesus, on the other hand, preached that a new kingdom had come for the world, one based on service, not laws, and love, not tradition. For his apolitical message and irreverence towards tradition, he received the ultimate punishment. But 2,000 years later, his teachings continue to inspire and move the world.

This pattern of 'ridicule before reverence' repeats time and time again throughout history. 

Galileo Galilei was placed under house arrest by the Church for heresy based on his promotion of Copernicus' theory of heliocentrism (earth orbits the sun). The idea that earth revolved around the sun, at the time, was an idea that no one would agree with him on, but proved to be ultimate truth.

Albert Einstein was dismissed due to the strange nature of his original theory of special relativity vs. the prevailing theory of 'the ether' in physics. More data would prove Einstein correct. 

The Eiffel Tower's designer Gustave Eiffel faced ridicule for his design, but the tower would become a world wonder decades later. 

Dr. Judah Folkman, the father of the theory known as angiogenesis, dealt with years of skepticism before the idea was accepted in the medical community. 

The filmmakers behind the James Bond series were turned down by numerous Hollywood studios until they finally got 100% financing by a partner studio and formed a joint production company (Eon). The Bond movies would go on to be one of the top grossing movie series of all time. 

And hundreds more examples follow this pattern. 

Religion, physics, medicine, film-making. The idea of ridicule before reverence is wide-ranging. The big question that we have to ask ourselves is what ideas do we ridicule today, but risk being on the wrong side of history?

Modern Day Reverence and Ridicule

A few areas of interest come to mind that are either revered or ridiculed, depending on what side of the debate you stand:

- Bitcoin: useless alternative to fiat currency or an evolution toward digitized hard currency and sound economics?

- Central banks: driving inequality through unaccountable issuance of fiat currency or saviors of the economy?

- Climate Change: man-made or merely cyclical in nature?

- Augmented or artificial intelligence: the end of biological man or Man 2.0?

- Social media: democratizing the internet or dividing western society?

- Political economy: one party system (China), two party system (US), or multiparty system (many European nations)?

- Private enterprise: maximize shareholder value or balance stakeholder interests?

- Space: colonize or remain on earth ad infinitum?

What other topics receive equal measures of reverence and ridicule in society? I'd love to hear more examples that come to mind.

bottom of page