There was once an emperor who loved nothing better than dressing in the most elegant garments.
Knowing this, two scam artists approached him with an offer to make him the finest clothes he’d ever had. They would make the clothes of magic cloth that would appear invisible to anyone who was foolish or incompetent.
The emperor agreed and commissioned them. As the work progressed, and the artists pretended to weave cloth, cut it and sew it, emissaries of the emperor were sent to inspect the work. Each one, for fear of looking foolish or incompetent, propagated the farce.
Eventually, the emperor, afraid of looking foolish or incompetent, put on the invisible, weightless garments that he pretended he could see.
He paraded through the streets among the people who were afraid to admit they could see no clothes. Finally, a small boy in the crowd shouted out, “He has nothing on.”
This awakened the crowd. They all agreed. Fear no longer paralyzed them from speaking the truth. “He has nothing on!” they all shouted.
The emperor colored from head to toe when he realized that his fear of looking foolish had led to his own public humiliation.