This quote is very interesting; “so long as there was no language to destroy the received wisdom, it remained in place”…
Before Benjamin Franklin began to think about lightning, the received wisdom had it identified as a supernatural phenomenon. For that reason, gunpowder was often stored in churches, to give it divine protection. Church bells were rung during thunderstorms to ward off the bad spirits. Between 1750 and 1784, lightning struck 386 German churches, killing 103 bell-ringers. In 1767 lightning struck a Venetian church whose vaults were filled with gunpowder. The explosion killed 3,000 people.
In other words, there was ample proof that divine protection did not ward off lightning. But so long as there was no language to destroy the received wisdom, it remained in place. Our experience today with the invisible hand of the marketplace are similar. What we require is the language to demonstrate its comic nature. Between 1973 and 1995, how often has the lightning of economic catastrophe struck Western economies? Where was the divine protection of the invisible hand? Franklin demonstrated the true nature of lightning by thinking about the problem, constructing an argument and finally subjecting it to practical experiment.
John Ralston Saul
The Unconscious Civilisation (1997)