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Gold

You know there’s gold down there.

You can glimpse it. Through words and images, anyway. For many years you’ve heard the stories, seen the drawings, heard about the gold found buried deep in a far away country, under just the same sort of rock.

So you dig. As you dig, you find strange things keep happening. You run out of shovels. Then the shovels that do arrive are made of rubber. Then the workforce stop wanting to dig. They say there’s not really any gold, that it’s all a myth. You fire them, and get new workers. They dig onwards. They draw up grand plans for that last breakthrough, through that really stubborn piece of rock. It resists. Occasionally a wall is breached and a new chamber opened up – you rush forwards to seize the bars, but there’s nothing there. Just cold, empty air.

You bring in the finest minds to work on the problem. They tell you that it’s a lot harder than you think. That breaching the amount of rock involved might not even be possible – that doing so could bring down entire cities – that the value of the gold at the end of the dig might be less than what had been spent on engineering. And on hiring the finest minds. You don’t like hearing this. You bring in more workers. Then you realise you’ve run out of money, so you cut back on shovellers (and, indeed, thinkers), but redouble public support for the gold digging.

Those that have doubts about the gold are shunned. There’s no platform for those who don’t share the dream. It is so much easier to draw a picture of gold and to make people love it. Who wouldn’t?

The dig goes on.

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