Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Jam doughnuts

I watched (and am waiting for part two of) Richard Dawkins' "The Enemies of Reason", shown on channel 4 last night.

As far as preaching to the converted goes, it was great, though one of the things I took away from the programme is that people who believe in the supernatural will not change their minds, even in the face of evidence.

Which is scary.

An Astrologer claimed that scientific testing of his zodiac predictions would be "mischief making", and an Indian spiritualist claimed that we can feel "the great spirit" when we walk into a room and get a good vibe. (Dawkins didn't cut him down enough for that remark)

A Spritualist church "speaker" preyed on the weakness of the bereaved.

A water dowser (searches for water using wobbling sticks), shown that his dowsing is no more effective than pure chance, without breaking a sweat asserted he failed to be accurate because "God's a bit of a joker", and had decided to make him fail the water-finding experiment... Which is a new spin on the usual "success = god, failure = me" thing; now we have "failure = god taking the piss". Cosmic comedian, really.

Taking on "spiritualism" instead of religion is an easier target, but still worth the attack, I think. Many people think it's important to be "spiritual", but I would agree with Charlie Brooker, that it's, 'what cretins have in place of imagination.'(link)

All of these superstitions and "spiritual" things share this in common; they give the believers a sense of control and meaning in a vast and confusing universe. That, I think, is why their minds cling to these ideas so desperately. But it's worrying because it's misplaced meaning and control, as it's assigned to places where there is actually none. It may be scary to let go of these comforting ideas, but the rewards outside them are far greater and more awe-inspiring. It's a shame more people won't leave the cave of superstitions.
It's a personal weakness that I feel the need to point and laugh at them until they do.

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