Faith and Symbolism
February 10, 2008 1 Comment
Let’s say you consider yourself a progressive who’s interested in protecting the environment. What do you think about the Kyoto Protocol?
Chances are: you’re in favor of it. You want us to sign it. You want the politicians who represent you to be in favor of it. You want them to pledge to sign it. If/when they get in office you want them to sign it. Anyone who is against or expresses doubts or negative views about the Kyoto Protocol, and the prospect of the U.S. signing it, you are against. You will criticize them. You may even consider such a person a Neanderthal, anti-science, regressive, against progress. Or worse.
Chances also are: You’ve never read a single word of the ‘Kyoto Protocol’ and have no real idea what’s in it. (Is it a document, or something? Is there some single manuscript called ‘The Kyoto Protocol’ with 173 pages that you could read, or whatever? No, I don’t know either.) This thing, which you consider SO important and SO mandatory for our nation to sign and SO crucial that our politicians pledge support for – when it comes right down to it, you know virtually nothing about it.
Other than the fact, of course, that – you’ve heard, or read in articles – it’s ‘for the environment’ (in some way) and that it would ‘limit CO2′ somehow. You don’t really know how – the mechanisms, the legal strictures, the bureaucratic bodies involved. You don’t know whether its method would be cost-effective or have unintended consequences. If its method costs 173 trillion dollars you wouldn’t know it. If it sets up a world dictator with execution power over every other human, you wouldn’t know it. If it had a secret tiny clause that mandated gassing everyone whose last name begins with the letter ‘K’ you wouldn’t know it. These are all mere details and you (chances are) consider them unimportant; after all, you haven’t taken the trouble to investigate them, have you? Be honest.
Neverthless, supporting Kyoto is NECESSARY and not supporting it is EVIL.
Again: this all (chances are) applies to you if you consider yourself ‘progressive’ and ‘pro-science’. You have faith that the ‘Kyoto Protocol’, whatever is actually in it, is a-ok. Perhaps this is because (you assume) the document was written by Scientists, or whatever. And your insistence that politicians be in favor of it despite the fact that you don’t know anything about it? This is explainable by the following: the actual outcome of the ‘Kyoto Protocol’ is less important than the fact that your politician, your guy, express support for it. It’s a symbolic thing, you see: at least he is on the correct side of the issue.
It is just interesting, the irrational, faith-based and symbolic stances people can take in the name of rationality and reason.