Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn


Last night at CTree, I was again irritated at how bad pop science is, and how much nonsense people manage to stuff into their brain. One conversation started with how their mystic ideas they got meditating will "depressingly slowly but eventually" be reached by science. They then proceeded to talk about how meditation disturbs energy flows and how meditation can alter how their brain swaps between left brain and right brain, and how that can prevent seizures and bipolar disorder. The conversations go on and on, an endless junkyard for the mind. I am, however, taking a stab at it. I explained to one person the concept of the double blind, and actually, dear reader, you can help me with this. I need to know where and when you were born (exact time), and I will collect a number of such bits of information, present them to her, and she will do her stuff and produce astrological charts for a few of you. I will then give each of you multiple charts, and ask you to pick the one that most describes you. I will hope to demonstrate that her astrology hobby is utter rubbish. In retrospect, I wish I hadn't bothered -- I'm kind of uncomfortable with "moving in for the kill" when it comes to smashing religious and superstitious beliefs. I've always been more happy just instilling doubt and letting people explore things until they hopefully grow, with more light guidance from me than a heavy hand, out of their superstitions. She just seemed so excited at all this stuff that she turned my notes as to why her purported tests of astrology were no good into this demonstration, which she decided she wanted done. Oh well. Another problem is that without good skepticism and bs filters, dealing with beliefs like this is like playing whack-a-mole -- one kooky belief may be put down, but another will show up the next time she talks with her friends. I wish I had just kept my mouth shut when she started talking about this stuff. I did decently afterwards though, avoiding a long stream of "that's wrong"s when the meditation conversation at the top of this entry happened. Otherwise, I'd probably be very busy right now collecting papers showing why their understanding of the brain, physics, and the like are totally wrong, papers that they wouldn't read and they would resent me for making their life less interesting and their collection of false knowledge demeaned.

If this fails to convince her, there's always the Randi Challenge.Some of the applicant logs are hilarious.

One in particular:

Dear Brett,

Three months ago I advised you of the need to follow the Challenge rules
and have your application notarized. I also advised you that in order for
us to accept your application, you would need to submit three notarized
affadavits from persons who had witnessed or experienced the phenomenon
in question.

Instead, after three months of silence, you send us a vhs tape with shots
of what we assume is your basement, and a wall.



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