The beauty of this Monty Python scene is that it is the world we live in. Yes, it’s a silly illustration of an extreme, but there is more than a kernel of truth to it. Witch trials are historically accurate events. At various points across centuries and continents, people were banished, stoned, burned and brutalized for being witches. There are all sorts of intriguing psychological topics to address on this matter, like group psychology and dynamics, scapegoats, fear, violence… But where the conversation is most applicable to the rapidly growing field of neuroscience is in the realm of rationalization and logic.
When we don’t know something, we toggle over to the google app on our smart phones and are instantly linked to the latest tweets of the worlds specialists. Before long, we start to feel like specialists on the matter ourselves. Information has never been this fast, or abundant. Before Wikipedia, however, people looked to other sources for answers, like their rabbi, favorite philosopher, medicine man, or the bible. Just like today, people would pick the answer that made the most sense to them and live their lives by it. What else can yah do? The best part is, we haven’t learned anything from it, and we still assume the explanations we receive are correct.
This has nothing to do with source credibility. Obviously some people have better explanations than others. It has to do with our assuredness in the experimental method. In a theoretical word, the scientific method would systematically explain everything. In reality, scientist prove each other wrong all the time. The best we can do is go off the suggestions of the most recent study.
We fill our heads with this idea that are really clever and know so much, and perhaps we do, but it’ll be great to see how much we’re missing when we check back in on ourselves a couple hundred years later.
What are the witches of our era? What is so logical, to us, but so totally wrong in the minds of our grandchildren?