Superstition Defense

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Discussion by: benirons

I am new to the foundation, so if this has been answered already, please forgive me and direct me to the link that has the answers.  With the internet and now social media being used more than ever, I am constantly finding ordinary good people being sucked into superstituous mumbo jumbo. For instance (amethyst put close to someone while they sleep promotes vivid dreams or Sun Gazing can promote a more centered and harmonious self).  One can jump on the internet and find hundreds if not thousands of people that agree to their erroneous claims. They point to "studies" and i have even read an 'article' how NASA cofirmed Sun Gazing (http://www.pakalertpress.com/2013/06/13/nasa-confirms-super-human-abilities-gained-through-sungazing-an-enlightened-perspective/).  These are being pushed on social media like I have never seen before.  I often avoid these discussions with my friends on social media because Im either not sure how to approach the situation or what to say and where to direct them on where the real science can be found.  Any thoughts on how to combat this? I just cringe at the fact they are recruiting more mindless followers daily.

34 COMMENTS

  1. Good luck. I had a friend once who got into that stuff, who I tried to demonstrate its fallacies to. I tried not to be judgmental, come across as insulting their intelligence, or get emotional about it. I could see their attachment to it and I didn’t want to come across as some sort of aggressive pit bull. I tried to just point out where it could be demonstrably wrong.

    The key word is “had”.

    People have always been into that stuff. Every day I see friends’ astrology horoscopes coming across my feed. Best thing I could suggest is to not bring it up at all unless they ask you about it, or directly try to “sell” it to you. Then provide your response and bow out. Maybe over time what you said will finally have an impact on them. Proactively going after their beliefs will just anger them and close their minds against you.

    This stuff appeals to peoples’ emotions, not their reason. So when you try to use reason against their beliefs, it triggers an emotional response.

  2. I agree with the non-combative approach, but if you feel bombarded with this stuff on social media then start (or increase?) posting on skeptical topics. Follow the Neurologica blog by Dr Steven Novella (and search the archives) there are often articles either tackling the weird stuff directly or pointing out how we can be fooled.
    Perhaps if your friends read about the other side of things without you shoving it it thier face directly they’ll come around without feeling you were a dick about it.

    • In reply to #2 by Scepticon:

      I agree with the non-combative approach, but if you feel bombarded with this stuff on social media then start (or increase?) posting on skeptical topics. Follow the Neurologica blog by Dr Steven Novella (and search the archives) there are often articles either tackling the weird stuff directly or po…

      Just like Persinger’s God Helmet. People think that when they put it on they can sense presences around them. Many studies have now shown that people know when other people are watching them These experiments have been repeated with thousands of subjects, so Persingers God Helmet just amplifies this ability. They are perceiving the people in the facility around them, but do to the amplification they think the people are close to them.

  3. A bit of craziness is sweeping the province and been taken as seriously as environmental opposition to a pipelines is the idea that electric smart meters are a government plot to kill you with radio waves, and to spy on your sex life. The electric company now offers old fashioned meters that have to be hand read at extra cost. Now the loons are demanding they be 100% analog in perpetuity They claim anything digital will kill you. I expected this would happen when BC Hydro humoured the loons. It gives them more credibility in the eyes of the media and in their own eyes. I have written the media over and over explaining why these people are bonkers, but they give them even more air time.

    What is going on? Are oil companies promoting this nonsense to take the heat off them? It is just that a conspiracy of lunatics (as in pride of lions) makes good radio?

  4. Some of these things are fairly harmless. Sun gazing obviously is not. Killer smart meters stop the electric company from differential billing at peak load which harms the environment with needless construction. Thinking a crystal will relax you is not harmful. Thinking it will cure cancer and you should avoid chemotherapy is.

    • In reply to #4 by Roedy:

      Some of these things are fairly harmless. Sun gazing obviously is not. Killer smart meters stop the electric company from differential billing at peak load which harms the environment with needless construction. Thinking a crystal will relax you is not harmful. Thinking it will cure cancer and you…

      Have you ever performed any experiments to show there are no results with the crystals, or is this just you superstition?

  5. I just keep posting things on my own, generally something I find wonderful in various science fields. I keep hoping it’ll catch some interest.

    I know somebody who has a thing about asking Jesus and the universe to grant various wishes, so I sometimes post some neat space stuff for her. She says she loves science, but she is so terrible when it comes to accepting anything that tickles her “spiritual” fancy and is generally uneducated in that field. So I told her how the atoms in our body formed, which sort of fell into that “connection to the universe” thing of hers, but at least it got some science out there.

  6. The area you might find interesting is called neuroeconomics.

    Basically it’s about how and why people put a value on things, including information, and what kinds of things people pay attention to (often literally) and in what circumstances.

    Here’s a taste of a neuroeconomics explanation of your example about sun-staring:

    The key aspect of the sun-staring item is the link with NASA and teams of university medical doctors researching the phenomena. The effecting of linking these things is to create a perception of expertness. The message content is then available to be mentally tagged as being associated with, or emanating from an accepted ‘expert’ authority. But only in specific triggering situations. (Which will only apply to a very few people – though that may still be sufficient to maintain the meme.)

    Research in social psychology involving neuroeconomics demonstrates that humans have evolved the ability to off-load key mental processes to other people in special situations. E.g. Leadership of groups in emergencies, like combat or during pack hunting, might be situations where some forms of thought are suppressed and almost handed over to the mind of whoever has acquired the status of the group leader. A bit like the authority of a drummer or the conductor of an orchestra – who links the entire performance despite not usually actually playing any particular musical instrument during the performance.

    A factor that facilitates efficient learning in youngsters is the ability to take on beliefs that follow specific pathways directly into their minds. (But just like our interest in sex, we never lose this ability just because we are older or are no longer actively reproducing.) The crucial aspect is that the source of the information be perceived as an authoritative expert. And there are various important cues that generate those perceptions: confident manner, silver hair, height, deep husky voice, clothing, trappings of status etc.

    New information entering the mind is normally subject to sceptical scrutiny, massive cross-referencing, and verification for congruence and consistency with whatever is already known and accepted about the world. We even dream at night to further integrate new experiences into our broader and deeper models of reality. Our minds work from these models of reality, which accumulate slowly and are often only loosely synchronised to reality, rather than directly perceiving reality. This is essential because there just isn’t sufficient sensory and processing bandwidth capability to remain too close to reality all the time, except with the aid of complex models. Our minds focus only on salient points where reality may deviate from our models in ways that have proven to be important for our ancestors to notice – and therefore to have survived to allow us to become their descendants.

    Ever since humans developed language various mental processes have arisen alongside our language capabilities to enable very rapid assimilation of knowledge and models of reality from other people, but without the massive investment in time and energy (and risk) otherwise required to experience and learn these things directly. (Or have them incorporated across too many generations into forms of instinctive behaviour.)

    One of the most important and useful of these processes is the ability to believe information without question. This enables information to enter our minds directly, bypassing normal defensive scrutiny. But this only occurs when the mind is in an ideal situation, which isn’t normally duplicated in other circumstances. That specific situation is a combination of uncertainty and anxiety, and the need to form judgements and make decisions, combined with the perception of an expert source of information.

    Misdirection during magic performances is a classic example of how this occurs. Anxiety arises from the situation. (Laughter is itself a form of expressing social anxiety and release from anxiety, and public performances are always associated with anxiety in the audience: that the performer might foul up and embarrass you in the audience, or that one might be chosen to assist with audience participation and made into a laughing stock.) Combine this mild performance anxiety with the confident manner of the magician and you have a recipe for effective misdirection: a process by which obvious and otherwise unconcealable invalidating assumptions are able to be skipped over by diverting mental focus. Which might be why magic works better in live performances.

    The main thing is the presence of the 2 crucial ingredients in combination: perceptions of expert authority, combined with uncertainty and anxiety (with the associated motivation to relieve that anxiety by acting or forming some conclusion or decision).

    Your sun-staring example might not specifically be some kind of malicious form of manipulation. It may just be some kind of meme that has propagated and persisted simply because it triggers this mental response in some people. Via large numbers of hits on social media there will always at least some viewers who just happen to be in some state of anxiety at the same time they are exposed to the message content.

    You may not be able to tackle this kind of dangerous meme by neutralising the anxiety effects. But you may be able to disrupt the appearance of expertise. Though you’d need to do that in advance. Once the message content has been accepted by an anxious mind it may already be too late. The message is incorporated into the internal mental model on the assumption that it has transited the mental processes that otherwise perform sceptical scrutiny. (These are the processes that neuroeconomics research demonstrates are suppressed and effectively offloaded when the mind is faced with the combination of expertness and anxiety.)

    Perhaps a disrupting approach might be to undermine the credibility of NASA. E.g. NASA may have put a man on the moon etc. But that’s very ancient history now, like Star Trek original series. They no longer have those capabilities. They still haven’t even developed the warp drive. The Chinese equivalent organisation is probably where all the future action will be for human space exploration. Plus NASA don’t now have much of a recent track record regarding expertise, especially after multiple shuttle disasters and bureaucratic coverups.

    I suspect that you won’t really have that much to worry about with NASA memes. Declining interest in science pretty much everywhere would indicate that most people nowadays won’t have much of an idea about who or what NASA is. Just as they no longer know whether it’s the Earth or the Sun that orbits the moon etc.

    On the other hand it’s quite popular with kids to debunk this kind of thing. They may have little interest in science but they’re usually up for a good laugh at someone else’s expense. So maybe your could show them how false perceptions of expert authority can easily be used to manipulate people to misdirect them away from implausible assumptions and therefore believe more or less anything. It’s like unleashing nuclear weapons for the ultimate defence: it couldn’t make the situation any worse? What might kids get up to once they work out how easily adults can be manipulated? At least we don’t have to worry about them starting religions and cults. All the really stupid and dangerous religions have already been invented.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that people will do just about anything to retain their outrageous beliefs. Particularly their beliefs about themselves as not being the kind of person who is easily taken in, manipulated, and deceived by outright nonsense. So once someone is in the grip of acutely inane nonsense it’s kind of hard to shake it off. E.g. I have no evidence that anyone ever reads my 1000+ word, grossly over-length comments on blogs. And I have every good logical reason to assume that no sane person would. But it doesn’t influence my behaviour. It’s usually better to nip these things in the bud before the dysfunctional behaviour becomes entrenched.

    • In reply to #6 by Pete H:

      The area you might find interesting is called neuroeconomics.

      Basically it’s about how and why people put a value on things, including information, and what kinds of things people pay attention to (often literally) and in what circumstances.

      Here’s a taste of a neuroeconomics explanation of your e…

      Are you talking about the disfunctionality of coming up with premisses that are not backed up by good experiments, or just by your own logic and belief systems. Skepticism is an easy religion that comforts people into thinking that they can do anything they want to. There should logically be no time and space and yet here you are.

      • Skepticism is an easy religion that comforts people into thinking that they can do anything they want to. There should logically be no time and space and yet here you are.

        This is dumb.

        I am wondering how you can ask Roedy if he has done any experimentation with crystals to bolster his opinion that they are ineffective. Then one post later tell PeteH that there should be no TIME AND SPACE but offer no experimental backup for such a claim.

        Skepticism is NOT a religion and it is clear that you are making shit up as you go along. And you wait until November to jump on people when the thread was out of gas in July? What’s up with that?

        In reply to #27 by Toltexan:

        In reply to #6 by Pete H:

        The area you might find interesting is called neuroeconomics.

        Basically it’s about how and why people put a value on things, including information, and what kinds of things people pay attention to (often literally) and in what circumstances.

        Here’s a taste of a neuroecon…

        • In reply to #28 by crookedshoes:

          Skepticism is an easy religion that comforts people into thinking that they can do anything they want to. There should logically be no time and space and yet here you are.

          This is dumb.

          I am wondering how you can ask Roedy if he has done any experimentation with crystals to bolster his opinion tha…

          Thread Necromancy at work…
          Somebody should inform the mods about Toltexan’s spamming here… :P

          • More like Necrophilia!

            In reply to #29 by Mr Greene:

            In reply to #28 by crookedshoes:

            Skepticism is an easy religion that comforts people into thinking that they can do anything they want to. There should logically be no time and space and yet here you are.

            This is dumb.

            I am wondering how you can ask Roedy if he has done any experimentation with c…

  7. There is very strong part of the ‘human condition’ that desperately seeks assurance and happiness, a drive so strong that reason and the present realities of life get easily pushed aside. This is not the good news that most of us want, most of the time.

    I agree with others that tackling unreason personally and directly generally does not work (unless someone is harming others by their unreason, which includes wasting significant time and/or money on xyz cult/’healing’). This leaves putting the case against unreason in less confrontational ways, while speaking and living according to reason as best one can, without saying anything directly critical or attacking (unless harm is being done, or maybe if one is as fluent and informed as Hitchens was).

    There is plenty of real science – but when I visit my local bookshop it is a sobering experience to compare the length of book shelving devoted to popular science to that for theism and even more to the myriad ‘alternative’ beliefs / healing / etc.

    In short, I think, especially with friends, a gently clear ‘softly softly’ reasonable approach is best. But not easy!!

    • In reply to #7 by steve_hopker:

      There is plenty of real science – but when I visit my local bookshop it is a sobering experience to compare the length of book shelving devoted to popular science to that for theism and even more to the myriad ‘alternative’ beliefs / healing / etc.

      I could write a book on healing crystals just by getting a price list from a local rock shop. I can make up anything and nobody can really contradict me. This may explain the huge volume of such junk books.

  8. The thing is, the amethyst might indeed promote vivid dreams. Talisman – any talisman can promote a more centered blah blah self. How can I possibly say that? The thing is, things like good luck charms work. That little boost of confidence, the deferral of anxiety, can indeed have an effect. Does a rabbits foot have some kind of energy field of luck? Of course not. There are no secret vibrations or voodoo powers. I got that. But our seemingly natural ability to be affected by our beliefs makes the placebo effect a very real player in one’s health. The bunny foot won’t cause any luck, but it’s owner might well perceive it to be so, or might even be wiling to attempt something he’she might otherwise not attempt. The simple act of belief can have significant effects.
    Super human abilities and all such nonsense aside, any object can be “used” by a person to invest trust or confidence or strength and other attributes and that simple act of believing in something translates to real world performance. Don’t conflate claims of supernatural nonsense like quantum energy fields or crystal vibrations with the often maligned placebo effect in all its variations and glory.
    The crystal doesn’t affect the person with a vibration, the rabbits foot doesn’t have a power that radiates around it’s owner that increases the person’s factor of luck. The objects hold no power. But a belief in an amethyst’s power to provide more vivid dreams, I contend, might well lead to more vivid dreams. Not just the perception but more vivid dreams, period. Dunno. But it can’t be dismissed out of hand.
    I have no advice on how to refute super human nonsense. I’d refute it with a roll of my eyes and a turn of my head.

    • In reply to #8 by digibud:

      The thing is, the amethyst might indeed promote vivid dreams. Talisman – any talisman can promote a more centered blah blah self. How can I possibly say that? The thing is, things like good luck charms work. That little boost of confidence, the deferral of anxiety, can indeed have an effect. Does…

      A turn of your head because logic tells you that you know how things are like Aristotle, logic is king. but it is not. I am an engineer and I worked on robotics for many years and there is just no way that we will ever really have a robot. It can’t be done/ To produce a single centimeter of skin with all it’s sensors would cost many.many thousands of dollars. We used to think it would be easy to get computers to see, but after about twenty years of trying no one any further ahead than when they began. Robots still can’t see, even though thirty years ago we thought we would be able to get them to see. The amount of processing power in the human brain far exceeds all the computing power in the whole world, even though you will get some people who think they may be able to get a computer to think. They may be able to get the rudiments of thinking down, as it seems they may be getting close. They still will not be able to see, or feel. or sense their environment as an average person can. Look around you. Do you have any idea how much computing power it would take to get a computer to recognize what you are seeing. Probably not, because you have not worked on the problem. You just apply your logic and state that you know how things are. Another superstition. Yes people get involved with superstitions and they make mistakes, but to presume that we know how we work is a gross error. Just ask you local machine vision expert.

  9. surprises me how many times on facebook i see people posting amazing sciency things then waffle about their horoscope or some psychic fraud.

    the problem with the internet is it has created a few science tourists. people who act like their scientifically literate but then prove the only wonder they seem to have is reserved for pretty pictures.

    personally i just don’t engage any more. many of this new age nonsense fads are just fads. people get bored and look for something else to enlighten them while staying inside their own mental cage. it’s hard to ask people to consider letting go of the things they think hold their universe together

    “Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a security blanket, a thumb to suck, a skirt to hold.” Isaac Asimov

    • In reply to #9 by SaganTheCat:

      surprises me how many times on facebook i see people posting amazing sciency things then waffle about their horoscope or some psychic fraud.

      My sister was proctor of Mensa, yet she takes astrology very seriously. It has a special hook.

      Crystals are a form of teddy bear. I would expect them to work as well as teddy bears.

      The key though is the age of these ideas. They are very old and very well polished scams.

      In primitive societies talismans are very common. Nobody thinks about a plausible mechanism by which they could work.

      • In reply to #10 by Roedy:

        In reply to #9 by SaganTheCat:

        surprises me how many times on facebook i see people posting amazing sciency things then waffle about their horoscope or some psychic fraud.

        My sister was proctor of Mensa, yet she takes astrology very seriously. It has a special hook.

        Crystals are a form of teddy…

        You know astrology does not work because some one told you it didn’t work. I am not talking about daily horoscopes, that is nonsense. The basic structure of the universe is astrological. They have had to invent a new science due to the findings of the space probes and the harmonic structure of solar systems. They call it gravitational harmonics. Pretty it up with a new name. Then they can get funding.

  10. I am currently teaching a STEM camp (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) geared towards 11 to 13 year olds. I typically teach kids that are a bit older. My eyes are being opened as to the short circuit that occurs causing a person to suck at understanding reality:

    You all ready for this??? Well, for some reason, kids this age will not allow themselves to be wrong. They can be demonstrably wrong, shown to be wrong, proved to be wrong…. and they will construct an alternative TO REALITY to make sure that they are not wrong.

    I am not sure if this is generational… ie.. unique to this current generation, because I do not know if I (and my generation) were like this when we were kids. I guess I was not particularly self aware at this age (or have forgotten much of those old times).

    But, I will tell you this, these kids cannot be wrong. I had Catholic nuns hitting me and I was wrong from birth (not good either)… These kids are wearing me out. I mean I had an 11 year old arguing with me that male mosquitos bite humans during the day time in winter. I am a 25 year veteran of studying Biology and the kid was immune to my knowledge base… He said “well, then explain how I got bit when i was making a snowman right before Christmas?”

    It didn’t snow in Philly before Christmas.

    He said “you weren’t there”….

    i am tired.

    • You are sooooo wrong!

      ;-)

      In reply to #12 by crookedshoes:

      I am currently teaching a STEM camp (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) geared towards 11 to 13 year olds. I typically teach kids that are a bit older. My eyes are being opened as to the short circuit that occurs causing a person to suck at understanding reality:

      You all ready for thi…

      • I have never been soooooooooo wrong in my life! I asked the kids the following: “If 10 nails weighs 18 grams, then how many nails would weigh 5000 grams?” Before going through the math I asked the kids to predict the answer. Out of 20 kids, 6 of them would not allow their prediction to be wrong even after being shown the goddamn math. It was absolutely eye opening.

        In reply to #13 by downshifter:

        You are sooooo wrong!

        ;-)

        In reply to #12 by crookedshoes:

        I am currently teaching a STEM camp (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) geared towards 11 to 13 year olds. I typically teach kids that are a bit older. My eyes are being opened as to the short circuit that occurs causing a p…

    • In reply to #12 by crookedshoes:

      I am currently teaching a STEM camp (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) geared towards 11 to 13 year olds. I typically teach kids that are a bit older. My eyes are being opened as to the short circuit that occurs causing a person to suck at understanding reality:

      You all ready for thi…

      Its a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it. Keep up the good work.

      • Thank you. I love my work and am passionate about it. At the same time I am really glad that I primarily teach older kids — I would burn out in three months if I had to face this age group every day!!

        I will regroup and recharge and get back in there tomorrow.

        In reply to #14 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #12 by crookedshoes:

        I am currently teaching a STEM camp (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) geared towards 11 to 13 year olds. I typically teach kids that are a bit older. My eyes are being opened as to the short circuit that occurs causing a person to suck at understandi…

        • In reply to #16 by crookedshoes:

          Thank you. I love my work and am passionate about it. At the same time I am really glad that I primarily teach older kids — I would burn out in three months if I had to face this age group every day!!

          I will regroup and recharge and get back in there tomorrow.

          This age group can be very trusting as well when they’re simply presented material without asking for their input. You have challenged them to come up with their own answer and they’re defending their honour. In a way it’s probably a healthy sign psychologically, though it will be better for them when they’re able to recognise the errors in their own thinking.

          • Thanks for your input…. I have really never dealt with this age group and this dynamic. I am glad to hear that this type of defense is psychologically healthy (it’s a bitch putting up with it).

            And, to connect back to the OP, maybe the people who get hooked into the bullshit (stuff like magnets and crystals and such) never grow past this stage. They stay in the middle school stage of this piece of development.

            In reply to #19 by Nitya:

            In reply to #16 by crookedshoes:

            Thank you. I love my work and am passionate about it. At the same time I am really glad that I primarily teach older kids — I would burn out in three months if I had to face this age group every day!!

            I will regroup and recharge and get back in there tomorrow….

  11. Perhaps there is some form of “believer’s gene” in which I’m mercifully deficient. Certain individuals seem to be well endowed with the capacity to buy into as much superstitious nonsense as they can get their heads around. The area that really pushes my buttons is the total reverence for health food stores and specific claims about food and eating.

    I’m well aware of what constitutes a healthy diet and try to abide by the advice given to us regarding food choices and cooking methods. The supermarket stocks an amazing array of healthy, fresh and affordable food, but it is up to us to make the best selection we can.

    The fanatic however, sees a conspiracy in every morsel, and won’t eat anything unless it costs four times as much and comes with a history of unproven claims. Not only does the actual food have to conform to the fanatics’ specifications, but quite often there is a form of magic about the way the food is actually consumed as well. I’ve heard of strict regimes that involve only eating raw food, or only one type of food at a sitting.

    I’ve also been told of a diet that works on the principle that one’s blood group determines what food is best for the individual!! How can people believe this stuff?

  12. I think I’m like Nitya (#17) because I’m skeptical about everything. I think my cynicism comes from being lied to about god throughout my childhood. Now, if you want me to believe anything, you gotta’ prove it, or I ain’t buyin’. Ah, I was also told that gazing at the sun would make you go blind. Some people will believe anything, especially kids.

  13. Well.. Thats what increased connectivity and the era of communication leads to… everything and anything can be propagated/distributed with no real barriers…this was impossible before; truth/knowledge remained limited to circles too.. Its now, rather a case of who is crying out louder and attractively…he who does it with some iota of logic/reason(should only sense like something) gets coverage and people get polarised… I feel the only way to stop this is by imparting better scientific education at lower age. Minds that cultivate logic – reasoning and empirical knowledge, can only truly know what reality is… I’m saying all these assuming the fact that about 99% of the shit that comes up as the writer describes is usually wrong(OBJECTIVELY), but there are few which are damn right as well.. let me make it clearer.. suppose in the 17th century someone says eating par boiled grains daily cures mouth ulcers that pop-up every now and then in people, then it is equivalent to the stuff that we hear now, like “pyramids draw energy when kept overnight under a lamp”… The right procedure( scientific) is to conduct a double blind test and show a statistically significant positive result in a significant population(or repeatability of an event to check for ascertaining the casuality)..which will hold, in the 17th century… So if someone says simulation of your lymph nodes cures your diseases internally or silicate rich special stones can cure cancer, scoff at it but ascertain the authenticity by their repeatability. we have a branch of mathematics called statistics which will prove or disprove the correlation to the “level of certainty” that you prefer.. Now I scoff at it because I know objectively/absolutely that the claim is true, but rather because it is very very “unlikely” for such a thing to happen , going along the accepted scientific theories around…remember : as per quantum physics there is a “finite” possibility for a ball to pass through a wall , but we never see it or expect it even scientifically.. but the statement is true and can be verified if we perform the experiment a zillion times, the probability as suggested by the theory holds…Again NB: an event having a zillion odds can happen the next round, as theory of probability/statistics/science can never predict absolutely what the next outcome will be. This is an inherent characteristic of nature and not our shortcoming to understand…A very unlikely event is of no significance to our understanding of science and can never be drawn into cause-effect structure. Its like saying : war is caused by a baby’s crying since there is a percentage of war which were preceded by crying babies….

  14. As a result of my very Christian past, I have a large number of friends that seem to periodically post about how great God is. He seems to do all manner of things for them, like finding parking places, getting their kids into good schools, steer their cars away from accidents, help them find a marriage partner…. Anyways, most of these hallelujahs are harmless and there is no point in pointing out their flawed logic or sometimes absurd beliefs.

    However, whenever anyone posts a link that makes any claim on science justifying their belief, I jump in with full (be it polite) force. I post links to sites debunking their claims, and can generally give the thrust of the argument in two or three short factual sentences. The most recent one was the one about NASA verifying their supernatural claims for sun gazing.

    • In reply to #22 by Bobwundaye:

      As a result of my very Christian past, I have a large number of friends that seem to periodically post about how great God is. He seems to do all manner of things for them, like finding parking places, getting their kids into good schools, steer their cars away from accidents, help them find a marri…

      I Started studying astronomy when I was very young and was taught to regard astrology as nonsense. I was given a book by a friend for my birthday about forty years ago that was about astrology who did not know the difference between astrology and astronomy. I politely informed him that astrology was nonsense, and to show him I erected horoscope as the book instructed. It seemed strangely correct in it’s description. So, I designed a grand experiment where eventually I analysed the horoscopes of over a thousand people and every one said it was accurate. I made many predictions and I would say if this does not occur then I will be able to prove that astrology does not work, but this never happened. The events always occurred. People would write me and tell me how the events took place.

      One lady had a prediction that there would danger from transportation systems on a given day, so she avoided driving for that day. She was vacationing in Florida and she had a friend drive her everywhere. They were in a parking lot and her friend pulled her out of the way of getting hit by a bus just in the nick if time.It saved her life, or at least being injured by being run over by the bus.

      When you have performed these types of experiments then you can comment on the veracity of a given system. The few studies that have shown that astrology does not work are so laughable in their design that nothing could be proved due to the fact that there premisses would always come out with a null set.

    • In reply to #23 by fsm@101:

      Hmmm…Couldn’t find the actual study on Sun Gazing from NASA? Anyone know where it is?

      Fictional studies are generally quite difficult to find. According to the subject himself (as related to Dr Mercola – take that for what it’s worth):

      “When an experience of a person becomes reproducible, it becomes a science. Sun gazing is not for non-eating. It is for health of mind, body and spirit…

      …The media sometimes reports things in haste, I have never said anything about NASA. Those who believe, they do it, and those who do not believe–to them, any amount of explanation won’t work”

      From page: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/01/08/feasting-on-sunshine.aspx

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