Pseudoscience

The Science of Fooling Dumb People

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Pseudoscience is believing in things that claim to be scientific, in the absence of any scientific evidence. What is in us that drives this obsession with believing in things that make no logical sense? Dianetics, astrology, flat earthers, holocaust deniers: all of these are silly beliefs to hold and I cannot understand why anyone would. Is it a lack of education? Are people just trying to troll people by saying they think the earth is flat like a pizza? What are these people thinking? I’m going to look into Scientology specifically.

Scientology

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Scientologists believe some crazy shit, even for religious folks. Among many things, they believe humans are temporary form, inhabited by your infinite self – not solely unique among religions. A being named Xenu (pictured above), who was the dictator of the Galactic Federation, brought his kin to Earth – which was then named Teegeeack– 75 million years ago on what is essentially an airplane, killed them with hydrogen bombs and their thetans cause spiritual harm to human beings. You sign billion year contracts, guaranteeing that your future incarnations will also be indoctrinated into the Church of Scientology. This church robs people out of millions of dollars, and strings them along with nothing but more and more nonsense and secrecy, used to keep the carrot on the string so they keep spending more money to achieve the next OT (operating thetans) level.

They believe that humans evolved from clams, all psychiatrists are demons, and that any critic of Scientology can be harmed in defense of the church – also not uncommon among religious types. If an elite member of of the church misbehaves, they get taken to The Hole, a prison where it’s reported that you get all kinds of strange punishments. It has been reported that you may be forced to stand in a trash bin while being sprayed with water, cleaning toilets with toothbrushes, and sleeping on a cement floor with bugs all around.

And this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. All of these things were written by a man who wrote an insane amount of science fiction novels. We know this for a fact, and yet people choose to believe anything he’s written down as some sort of historical account of the universe. Leah Remini, among many others, have gotten out of the church and gone on a sort of crusade to bring light to what actually goes on in the church, especially the higher echelon. She reports missing people, and being held ‘captive’ after questioning things like Tom Cruise’s behavior.

If someone were brought up in this brain-washing church, I can understand why someone would have no other choice but to believe. Everyone in the church acts as a watch-guard to the other members, and must report any misbehavior. Similar to North Korea, this forces everyone to not want to step out of line, because all eyes are watching. It’s almost genius. But it’s the folks who choose to adopt Scientology late in life that confuse me.  What do people think before signing their soul away for a billion years?

Flat Earth Society

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Now this is another one that confuses me greatly. I’m nearly certain that a lot of folks claiming to believe that Earth is flat are just trolling people. I certainly hope that a decent number of folks who presumably have a high school  education would believe that we live on a large pizza-like object floating in space. They seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of physics, in thinking that all of the water would move to the ‘south’ end of the planet because of gravity. Flat Earthers also believe that there is some kind of giant ice wall in Antarctica, which marks the edge of the planet. How do these people explain how you could fly west in one direction continuously and land in the same spot? We don’t live on the face of a coin, folks. Why would we have time zones?

I think these people have demonstrated that they have no clue what they’re talking about. Of course the Earth seems flat because we have no sense of scale. As you travel along around the globe, of course it would appear flat, because we’re so small that we cannot see it. But when you fly in an airplane you can actually see the curvature of the Earth. They also claim that no photos of the whole earth have ever been taken, which is demonstrably untrue, but they refuse to accept any evidence to the contrary. Why are all of the continents not on the same plane in these photos?

What the hell, people?

It’s nearly impossible for me to wrap my head around how people believe these things. I don’t have the mental energy to commit to these thoughts any more. Are people really doing it just to annoy others?

Is it easier to just be dumb?

 

 

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Religion and Kids

“Religion teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not knowing.”
-Professor Richard Dawkins

It’s bullshit to force religion on your, or any, children. I recently had a lengthy discussion with a Jehovah’s witness, a 20 year old gentleman who seemed fairly sane and intelligent, but believes in the virgin birth, resurrection, and creationism. He also believes that Earth is approximately six thousand years old, and humans used to live to hundreds of years of age. When asked why he was a witness, he replied “My whole family does it.” Children can’t muster an intellectual defense against complex idea like religion. I spoke with the Jehovah’s witness for nearly two hours and he claims to have done research and come to the conclusion, despite the overwhelming evidence contrary to his beliefs, that he believes in miracles, the effectiveness of prayer, the whole package. Most of my questions as usual were met with the usual theist cop-out statements like “all the answers are in the bible”. Instead of being able to answer anything in a simple sentence, they avoid giving any concrete explanation. God moves in mysterious ways. Is it more likely that one man rose from the dead and was born of a virgin or that someone lied or was mistaken?

Using religion to strike fear into children, bribing with promises of heaven or blackmailing with threat of eternal punishment is not something a child needs to be haunted with. One wouldn’t look at a child and think that kid is a Republican. It sounds silly to even state in a hypothetical manner. So why is it acceptable to call a child a Catholic, Islamic or indeed, an atheist?

A child’s natural tendency is curiosity, and we should be encouraging that. They should to be taught to question everything. Everything they read, hear, and see. My wife and I are trying to instill this in our kids. If my kids grow up and want to join a faith, I’m not going to disown them. I would hope that they would have come to the conclusion to join a faith of their own free will, though, not because we forced them. This “I do it cuz that’s the way my daddy did it” mentality needs to stop. My kids will certainly have to put up with me grilling them with questions over why they chose to become religious.

The fact that the bible was written by peasants at a time when people were “even dumber than we are now” (David Cross) and translated and re-translated and edited by kings and people with agendas seems not to bother believers.

I have a real problem with “faith” because it is basically saying “I’m choosing to believe in things that go completely against established science”, and as a Get Out of Jail Free card for anything they have no logical answer for. Theists love to take advantage of gaps in knowledge in the scientific field as evidence in favor of God, claiming that since we can’t explain it now, therefore it cannot be explained, hence: God exists. These people know God exists with as much certainty as I’m sure fairies don’t. Presumably theists don’t believe in Zeus or Allah, so what’s wrong with taking it one god further?

There’s no denying that religion has some benefits. It offers a sense of community for those in need, charity, and claims to have all the answers. Which is comforting, I suppose, to people who are rightfully terrified by the infinite beauty and mystery of the universe. But that doesn’t make anything in any holy book true. And you do not need God to be a good person. People can be moral, compassionate, and charitable without the existence of a higher power. We’re capable of so much more, and don’t need God to do it.