I am constantly amazed at what I call “the arrogance of the Zeitgeist”. Every generation feels they have got all the answers and see things clearly now, as opposed to the “ignorant beliefs” of the past.
I often think about how surely a person in 1600 would have stated that the earth was flat and revolved around the sun, or a person in 1750 would condone slavery, or the disenfranchisement of women. We love to talk and to teach about all the “scientific” discoveries we have made and scoff at how people of the past were wrong on these issues. But those people proudly talked of their achievements and scoffed at the perceived ignorance of those who came before them.
If history has taught us anything, it should be that the “facts” of the present might be the targets of scoffing in the future.
When I was in my doctoral program, we were taught that “Attention Deficit Disorder” only occurred in males, and was developmentally limited (it stopped by itself with adulthood). If I did not answer this way on my psychopathology exam, I would have been marked “wrong”. Of course as the diagnosis became more popular, and drug companies wanted to expand their potential markets, it was later announced that girls, and adults, could have “ADD”, and therefore be potential customers.
Whatever you think of that issue, in points out how “facts” change and things we are born and die believing may be completely discredited in the future.
When I was an undergraduate I complained to the university administration about student smoking during classes. I was literally ushered out of the President’s office as some sort of “lunatic”. Who would even believe that people were allowed to smoke in classrooms, or on airplanes? It was accepted, “civilized” behavior at one time, and now is inappropriate, anti-social, and illegal.
What are the things we believe and the practices we ascribe to, that people in the future will look back and be astonished about? We haven’t figured it all out in 2022; we just have our current beliefs. And everytime we hear someone pontificating about the “truth” of anything, let’s try to remember that “truth” changes with time. We have the opportunity to question everything that we “believe”, and to celebrate with wonder the reality that there is infinitely more we don’t know that what we think we do know