It is really crystal clear that the concept of dangerous truths has, for a very long time, been widespread, not to say a cliché.
“𝐀 𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐛𝐢𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰𝐥𝐞𝐝𝐠𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐝𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠.”
“𝐂𝐮𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐤𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐭.”
“𝐈𝐠𝐧𝐨𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐬.”
“𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐰𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐡𝐮𝐫𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮.”
On a much deeper level, one need simply reflect on the story of the Tree of Knowledge and the Tower of Babel, or the myths of Prometheus, Daedalus and Oedipus, or the story of the Sirens, or the argument for the “noble lie” in Plato’s Republic, or even the stories of Faust and Frankenstein to see that the concept of dangerous or forbidden knowledge has had a long and venerable history in the West.
Indeed, of the two most influential sources of modern Western culture, Socrates and the Bible, the one teaches that the idea of the good, the optimum being and Truth, is like the sun, which we can almost never endure to look at directly, and the other teaches that if we should gaze upon the face of God, we would certainly die.
But why in the world should the truth be dangerous? But at the same time why shouldn’t the truth be dangerous? Why would anyone expect the world to be all that we fervently wish or need it to be? Is there some reason why the truth must somehow always turn out to coincide with the fond hopes, comforting assumptions and wishful thinking of ordinary life?
Denial, wishful thinking, self-deceit, prejudice, delusion —why do these phenomena play the central role that they do in human affairs if not because bare reality seldom conforms to the deepest demands of the human heart? Indeed, who among us is so bold as to claim to live without illusion?
When we imagine to ourselves the serious pursuit of truth, we do not think of it as simply pleasant and untroubled.
These very general considerations suggest that the idea of dangerous truths is not so outrageous as we incline to think, and that there may well be more basic common sense to the conflictual view than to the harmonist one.