CULTURAL INSANITY, THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING OUR WORLD AND OURSELVES:
WITH CURRENT POLITICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL EXAMPLES,
AND HISTORICAL CASE STUDIES IN WITCH-HUNTING,
THE MEDIEVAL CHURCH IMPEDING SCIENCE,
AND THE REJECTION OF GEOLOGIC TIME & EVOLUTION
Parts Two through Four are case studies involving major aspects of historical eras lasting from roughly 100 years to more than a thousand years. I have used historical case studies because they should prove less likely to trigger people’s defenses and biases—where such biases often tend to be rooted at least partly in the cultural insanities in which we are currently enmeshed. These case studies demonstrate some of the methods involved in analyzing cultural insanity, and help the reader to understand more fully the idea of cultural insanity and to see parallels in the present. All three case studies also provide what I believe is a more satisfactory resolution to some of the problems with parts of more traditional histories that cover the same or similar topics.
The three case studies almost necessarily involve religion-related topics in the history of the West—because religion suffused almost everything in people’s lives until fairly recent times. (If the idea of reading anything about religion turns you off, please read through the end of this subhead.) Two of the case studies are related to the history of science. The three parts were also chosen in part because the vast majority of people in the West have at least some background understanding of the principal religion in the West, such that no case study’s material will be entirely unfamiliar to them. The same goes for the science in earlier times, almost all of which is easily understood.
Still, religion can be a delicate subject if something written seems to contravene strongly held beliefs. Accordingly, the reader is hereby urged to think of these accounts as if they were written by a long-lived Martian anthropologist who watched the history of Western Europe unfold from their spaceship. To assist the reader to use this more objective-observer perspective, “Christian” has almost invariably been rendered in the shorthand, as “Xtian”; and most references to “god/God” have been rendered as “the deity.” This approach is also meant to remind the reader that the idea of “God” in older times may not have the same meaning as “God” today. In this then, I have proceeded much as an anthropologist might do when reporting on the deities of a tribe in some rainforest that had had little contact with the outside world.
In writing historical aspects of the case studies, I judged it most important not to make major mistakes. I tried to avoid minor errors too, of course, but the most important goal was to ensure that the cases were accurate and fair with respect to historical trends most relevant to the analysis of cultural insanity. Given this purpose and the broad sweep of some of the history here, it seldom seemed necessary to try to become more up-to-date with the fine points of the academic literature pertaining to the various eras. Using general histories by academic specialists and others, I have sought to re-focus and re-synthesize the information about the topics of principal concern in the case studies. Where my sources did not agree or otherwise provide synthesizable explanations for what had transpired, I necessarily resorted to yet more histories applicable to that case study. Finally, sometimes it was of course necessary to focus in considerable detail on some events or important themes to assess whether some writers were too reliant on historical apologia or sources with political axes to grind. Some writers’ interpretations were simply at variance with too many facts and key developments reported in other works. And, with reference to important aspects of a few subtopics, sometimes one historian’s account stood head and shoulders above the others because of its comprehensiveness and/or the author’s better understanding and integrated explanation of parts of that history that were missing or inadequately explained in others.
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