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Truth and Criticism

I m a bibliophile. I like books.

I have a collection of my own, personal religious books. Sure, there s the usual fodder of holy books: I have The Complete Gospels in there (which includes all the known Jesus stories of antiquity less the recently decoded Judas Gospel ). There s poetry: The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson . And philosophy: The Art of Living by Epictetus. Folksy stories: All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (and everything else by Fulghum). Psychology: Memories, Dreams, Reflections by Carl Jung. And on and on. One day I ll catalog those books that make it to the closest shelves.

But I want to quote from an advertising book that has made my Order of Holy Books: It s Not How Good You Are, It s How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden. According to AdLand , Paul Arden is one of the best advertising people in the entire world. I quote from Mr. Arden thusly (because it speaks to me, maybe it will you):


It is quite easy to get approval if we ask enough people, or if we ask those who are likely to tell us what we want to hear.

The likelihood is that they will say nice things rather than be too critical. Also, we tend to edit out the bad so that we hear only what we want to hear.

So if you have produced a pleasantly acceptable piece of work, you will have proved yourself that it is good simply because others have said so.

It is probably okay. But then it s probably not great either.

If, instead of seeking approval, you ask, What s wrong with it? How can you make it better? , you are more likely to get a truthful, critical answer.

You may even get an improvement on your idea.

And you are still in a position to reject the criticism if you think it wrong.

Can you find fault with this?


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