The battle between myth and reason was the heart of the Renaissance, which ushered in the Age of Reason.
For the first time in two millenia, philosophers and scientists were discovering or rediscovering ideas that we take for granted today; the ideas of cause and effect, the use of observation and controlled experiments.
We use these simple and elegant thought processes and the science created through these methods in our daily lives. We know that when we flip a switch a light will turn on but not necessarily how electricity works. This seems so apparent that most of us don’t think to question it. We experience science at work in our lives all day long without questioning it- from the time we turn on a light, use a car or an elevator or cook food using a microwave.
So there is a cognitive dissonance when we accept the scientific concept of observation and controlled experimentation for only part of our decision making and continue to rely on myth for the rest.
In essence, this is the war being fought between the fundamentalist Christians of the west and the fundamentalist Muslims of the East, Are we living in a world where effect follows cause or is there some supernatural force that like Greek or Roman Gods, alters human fate?
This is the same type of civil war that is being fought in many Western countries. The fight of reason versus ideology. With reason you have to change your opinion to match observed reality. With ideology as your guide, you just have to change facts to match your opinions. That sounds crazy, doesn’ t it?
Let’s see how it works in action. In Holland they decided to deal with the drug problem they were facing in the late 20th century by dividing drugs into two groups, soft and hard. Soft drugs were pot, hash, and psilocybin mushrooms. Everything else was considered hard. Coffee shops were permitted to sell soft drugs but not hard in order to separate the sources of supply.
This experiment has worked out extremely well according to the psychologists and sociologists who have studied the results. Holland has the lowest rate in Europe for both hard and soft drug use. There is little crime associated with it.
In the United States marijuana was classified as a dangerous and illicit substance. Millions of people were incarcerated, their lives shattered at a cost that has bankrupted several state governments.
Today in Holland, right-wing ideologists don’t really care that this harm reduction strategy has been amazingly successful. It doesn’t fit into their world view so it isn’t right and the program must be eliminated. They believe the coffee shops should be shut down. The growers should be jailed and the seed breeders must be stopped.
Will it hurt the tourist industry? It doesn’t matter.
Will it put kids in harm’s way from hard drugs like cocaine and heroin? The kids who use drugs shouldn’t. These are “bad kids” so it doesn’t matter.
Will it be costly and ineffective? It doesn’t matter. We know what is right.
So there you have it folks. The Age of Unreason is unfolding in Holland, the center of rational government for 400 years. Brought to you by a group of people who just don’t know about evolution, but they know what and who is right and wrong. And if you’re reading this blog, you are probably one of the evildoers, who must be controlled.
It would be laughable to think that Holland is going backwards while the rest of the world is marching forward, if it weren’t true.
Ed is and will be in Amsterdam for most of the month of October.