Monday, December 26, 2016

"That's Medieval!"

The great conceit of our time is that by being"modern" we are smarter than all humans who came before us. This belief is most often adopted by people abysmally ignorant of the past, and what people were like in the past. And this myth has been embraced for little more reason than that we modern people have been told it is true by someone who seemed smart, and it flatters our egos.

Ironically, it is this extreme willingness to adopt a self-flattering belief, based on no evidence, that shows that "moderns," on average, may be the stupidest people who have ever walked the earth. And that makes sense: no people so stupid could have survived as hunter-gatherers or subsistence farmers.  It is only our great wealth and the mind-numbing tasks by which it is today possible to make a living that permit so many zombies to survive. Is it possible to imagine an aboriginal hunter so dull-witted as to deliberately block off his own hearing, restrict his own vision to within a few inches of his face, and then go off for a walk into the dangerous jungle?

While watching a crime show the other day, I was struck by a hilarious example of our modern narcissism. "Sophisticated" moderns are likely to get a good chuckle out of medieval legal procedures such as trial by ordeal. But in a thousand years, some historian will be writing, "In the so-called 'Middle Ages,' procedures such as trial by ordeal at least held out the possibility of getting verdicts correct. But by 2000, the human mental state had become so debased that it was actually believed that trials could be made more reliable by inviting people into the courtroom who were professionally skilled at lying; confusing and hypnotizing others to alter their reports of what they saw; hiding, faking, and blocking the use of evidence; and exploiting obscure technicalities in their vast and incomprehensible occult texts they called 'law,' and basically putting them in charge of trials. These shamans were highly respected and paid for their magic, and were called lawyers."



4 comments:

  1. The tales we tell ourselves, when our desire for consistency meets our inability to be so.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "But in a thousand years, some historian will be writing..."
    No, by your own logic, in a thousand years they will probably be yet dumber.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What "logic" is that? Did I state somewhere that inevitably, people get dumber over time? No, I did not.

      Or were you just trying to illustrate the dumbing down?

      Delete
  3. I hear mockery of bizarre medieval ideas a lot. But I suspect there are more, even crazier, ideas floating around now. Few people believe me when I tell them this.

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