T. Mulder will give her inaugural address on Wednesday upon acceptance to the Professorship of Language and Communication at VU Amsterdam, but she is already lifting part of the veil at Nieuws en Co. In general, you notice an overly scientific attitude in Dutch society. It is not only the government that is based on facts and scientific studies, but most of the citizens do as well. Even many critics of coronavirus and vaccination policy rely on skepticism and science. “It’s hard to talk about anything other than science,” says T Mulder.
However, this is exactly what we need: “We have to talk about values, about what we find important. What makes a good parent, what makes a good citizen? We have to bring it up for discussion.” These values often remain hidden in T Mulder’s eyes. People, for example, find government satisfied with themselves, while wanting to see the ability to learn. Citizens want to embody this value.”
Government often shows the facts, but not the considerations and values behind them. “This causes discomfort and misunderstandings. Vaccinations, there are also all kinds of values behind them, but we have a bit of a shame to talk about.”
Shame our value hack
Our society has now become so scientific that we find it almost inconvenient to speak of anything other than facts, T. Mulder believes. It does not mean that the facts are unimportant – on the contrary – but at the same time attention must be paid to basic values. It’s time to break through the value of our shame.
Ironically, government sometimes shoots itself by leaving these values out of discussion, T. Mulder explains. “If someone says ‘vaccination is not necessary to my individual liberty,’ then as a government you can object: you do it for each other. But if you, as a government, always say it’s based on facts, it’s hard to say.”