Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network

Human Rights Defenders

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

 Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 1



Reading of the Emperor's New Clothes

The Emperor's New Clothes

The Emperor's New Clothes "Kejserens nye Klæder"

"The Emperor's New Clothes" (Danish: Kejserens nye Klæder) is a short tale by Hans Christian Andersen about two weavers who promise an Emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible.  Two con artists, pretending to be weavers, come in to the Emperor's kingdom and convince him that they make the finest clothes in all of the land made out of invisible thread. The two weavers promise the vain Emperor a fine suit of clothes invisible to all those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. The invisible cloth when described by the swindling weavers becomes more and more beautiful, more palpable and starts to reside in the imagination  as a thing of beauty even though it really isn't there at all. The con artists continued to steal gold, silk and other precious items for their "unique creation".So when the Emperor goes parading down the street with his new suit of invisible clothing, people are afraid to admit that they do not see the fine suit of invisible cloth.  The people of the court, the townspeople, various governmental officials all pretend that they can see the fine invisible suit for fear of appearing unfit for their positions and the Emperor does the same. 

But it is a child in the crowd who reveals the truth by calling out,

"But he isn't wearing anything at all!"

The child  is too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others.

The child's truth is mercifully free of adult corruption, but that it recognizes the terrifying possibility that whatever words we may use to clothe our fears, the fabric cannot protect us from them.

The Emperor cringes, suspecting the assertion is true, but continues the procession.This children's story is often quoted when discussing the nature of beliefs systems that lack an empirical basis. So the Emperor's New Clothes are a thing of fantasy not real substantial materiality, but the telling and re-telling of the fantasy  makes it seem real and no one has the courage to reveal the truth - because now believing the falsehood is easier. 

The Emperor's New Clothes is a metaphor for anything that smacks of pretentiousness, pomposity, social hypocrisy, collective denial, or hollow ostentatiousness.



"Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it."

- Mark Twain, humorist and author (1835 - 1910)


In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

Attributed to George Orwell

Pluralistic Ignorance - Spiral of Silence

The 'Emperor's new clothes' has become a standard metaphor for anything that smacks of pretentiousness, pomposity, social hypocrisy,  and collective denial.   It is a story that challenges children to have the courage to challenge authority and to speak truth to power." It is a story about pluralistc ignorance – a situation where "no one believes, but everyone thinks that everyone believes." In short, pluralistic ignorance is a bias about a social group, held by a social group. People study how others act in a situation, they may notice that people will decide not to help when they see that others are not getting involved. This can result in no one taking action, even though some people privately think that they should do something.  Pluralistic ignorance can lead groups to persist in policies and practices long after they have been proven ineffective or reasonable.  Pluralistic ignorance  can prevent groups from taking actions that would be beneficial in the long run and to continue down the same old pathway in spite of evidence it is no longer the right way to go.

The spiral of silence is a political science and mass communication theory propounded by the German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann. The Spiral of silence theory stipulates that individuals have a fear of isolation, which results from the idea that a social group or the society in general might isolate, neglect, or exclude us due to our opinions. This fear of isolation consequently leads to remaining silent instead of voicing opinions. Media is an important factor that relates to both the dominant idea and people's perception of the dominant idea. The assessment of one's social environment may not always correlate with reality. The spiral of silence occurs on a macro level if more and more members of the perceived minority fall silent. This is when public perceptions of the opinion climate begin to shift. "In other words, a person's individual reluctance to express his or her opinion, simply based on perceptions of what everyone else thinks, has important implications at the social level." As one opinion gains the interest of the majority, the minority faces threat and fear of isolation from society. As the opinion gains momentum by the majority, the minority continues to be threatened and falls deeper into their silence. It continues until the minority no longer speaks out against it, and the opinion of the perceived majority ultimately becomes a social norm.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
― Leo Buscaglia

Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network


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"Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself."  Confucius

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt- Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic", delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910