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Dr Julian Huppert, Intellectual Forum, Jesus College

Tales ancient and new

A shepherd-boy, who watched a flock of sheep near a village, brought out the villagers three or four times by crying out, "Wolf! Wolf!" and when his neighbors came to help him, laughed at them for their pains. The Wolf, however, did truly come at last. The Shepherd-boy, now really alarmed, shouted in an agony of terror: "Pray, do come and help me; the Wolf is killing the sheep"; but no one paid any heed to his cries, nor rendered any assistance. The Wolf, having no cause of fear, at his leisure lacerated or destroyed the whole flock.

Moral: There is no believing a liar, even when he speaks the truth. 
(Aesop, trans Townsend)


A tech bro, who provided convenient services to the public around the world, harvested data from all the public, insisting that the data was needed to improve services for them. When the public offered the data, he profiteered from them for their naïveté. A pandemic, however, came to stalk the earth. The tech bro, eager to help, shouted loudly to all 'Please give me access to all your data – I can save us from this pandemic"; but no one trusted him any more, and the public took steps to protect themselves from him as much as from the pandemic.

Moral: Once you've lost trust, no one will believe you even when they should

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