Peter at Green Enigma relates an exchange with a fellow student who upbraided him for referring in passing to the Italian Carabinieri “battling with corruption” and attributed Peter’s view to his”cultural prejudices”. I think this illustrates perfectly the clash between those who treat the world as they find it and those who treat it as they wish it would be. Anyone who knows anything about Italian society knows that corruption, from petty to major, is widespread (and indeed traditional), it may be regrettable that this is the case but it is sadly a fact. For those sceptical I would refer them to the fiction of Michael Dibdin, whose Aurelio Zen novels provide eloquent and entertaining exposition.
This is one of those example of “educating away common sense” to which I referred earlier. It occurs to me that on many issues the “ordinary Joe” is wiser than the educated elite. One of the things one learns at university is that it really is possible to argue convincingly that black is white. There are two effects to this. First: it is possible to convince yourself that something that you wish to believe is true. Second: being aware of this sophistry can lead you to treat with scepticism perfectly common-sense arguments and phenomena, seeking instead a more convoluted explanation.