'How despicably have I acted!' she cried. 'I, who have prided myself on my discernment! – I, who have valued myself on my abilities! … How humiliating is this discovery! – Yet, how just a humiliation! – Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind. But vanity not love, has been my folly. … I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away.'

—Jane Austen


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The tale of the Trojan Horse might be apocryphal – no one knows – but it stands out as one of military history’s most famous cautionary tales about yielding to unexamined beliefs. The story goes that the Greeks, frustrated by years of waging an unsuccessful siege on the walled city of Troy, built a massive wooden horse, left it at the city gates as a parting “gift” to their putative victors, and pretended to sail home. Ignoring the naysayers (most famously, the prophet Cassandra and the priest Laocoön, both of whom warned their fellow Trojans that the gift was a trap), Troy’s leaders brought the horse inside the city walls. That night, thirty-odd soldiers who had been concealed inside crept out and opened the gates to the returned Greek army. The Greeks destroyed the city and slaughtered its citizens, thereby ending – and winning – the Trojan War.