Great Man Theory states that men with outsize power can have outsize impacts on society and history. Does this theory have legs – or is it all illusion?
Early this year, Science Daily (a website I like) claimed a new study on spiders 'debunked' the "19th-century notion that highly influential individuals use their power" to shape history. This theory these spiders had debunked was Great Man Theory.
I'd heard of Great Man Theory a few times over the years. I never gave it much thought. However the Science Daily article piqued my interest. If there is one thing the media has taught me (and the media has taught me many things), it is that the word 'debunked' usually signals something is, by contrast, actually worth looking into.
If you want a common man to dismiss something as obviously wrong, just tell him it's been debunked. Then he will know - devote thought to this, and your membership in the world of good thinkers is gravely imperiled. Abandon these lines of inquiry now... lest you be tossed into the 'gullible idiots box' and excluded forever from the society of the educated and informed.
Of course, if you are a contrarian - as I am - these veiled warnings that a thing is intellectually off limits only interest you in it more. They make you want to investigate a thing. To learn all about it, as well as its counterclaims.
This new interest in Great Man Theory led me down a rabbit hole that, in only a short time, changed my thinking on a profound, important topic that affects the way a man views his place in the world.