Questions Asked and Answered: Dogmatic Slumber

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Today we're outsourcing to Dr. Boli:

Dear Dr. Boli: How can I progress from ordinary sleep into slumbering dogmatically? --Sincerely, "cs."

Dear Sir or Madam: Dogmatic slumber, that easy and comfortable state of resting on one's unexamined assump­tions, has been shown in multiple studies to be greatly desirable for promoting health of mind and body. Fortunately most people have little trouble achieving this state, and indeed many are seldom roused from it. If, however, you are one of those miserable unfortunates who suffer from dogmatic insomnia, or a perpetual restless examination of what most people take for granted, only a change in habits is likely to bring relief.

The works of David Hume are frequently blamed in cases of dogmatic insomnia, but unjustly so. The problem is not in the works themselves, but in our employment of them. In particular Hume's Essay Concerning Human Under­standing, a weighty tome in every sense, is often misused. The mistake most sufferers have made is to open the book and read it, exposing themselves to the disturbing ideas in the text. If, however, when you retire for the evening, you instruct one of the servants to smack you forcefully on the head with the book, you will be virtually assured of a good eight hours of dogmatic slumber.


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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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