Our credulity is greatest concerning the things we know least about. And since we know least about ourselves, we are ready to believe all that is said about us. Hence the mysterious power of both flattery and calumny…. It is thus with most of us: we are what other people say we are. We know ourselves chiefly by hearsay.
-Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind, aph. 128-129 (1955).