WHERE'S THE HARM?

(From: Investigator 25, 1992 July)

 

NEW IDEA, a magazine of circulation 1 million, now includes Tarot readings by a Matthew Favaloro and Psychic readings by "Bridget" as well as regular material on astrology, dreams, numerology and other "New Age" beliefs. Scores of other magazines are likewise giving increased space to New Age topics including palmistry, clairvoyance, UFOs, etc. Is there any harm in promoting fantasy/superstition as fact?

Firstly it's a waste of time to try to change or understand your situation in life by studying or doing things which have no bearing on it. For example, as a young boy I often tried to improve my lot by keeping my fingers crossed. It would have been better to use my fingers to leaf throuqh books and seek information relevant to what I wanted in life. Similarly the more time you spend on dream interpretation, palmistry, Nostradamus, crystal balls or trying to arrange contact with flying saucers the less energy and time you'll have left over for finding real answers.

Hippocrates (460-375 BC) believed that the stars and planets influence peoplesí health. He claimed "astronomy plays a very important part in medicine. Who nowadays, however, would want his doctor or surgeon to rely on astrology rather than medical science? Fortunately horoscopes don't often advise on specific medical treatment but even vague and general statements whether about medicine, finance, romance, etc can influence the superstitious into rash decisions.

If you reject science by trying to control the weather with a rain dance, or predict winning horses and lottery results with numerology, or improve your health by sitting under a pyramid, perhaps next you'll give all your assets to some cranky cult leader or follow a racist dictator who wants to murder half the population.

From 600 BC science flourished on Samos and other Greek areas for several centuries. By experiment, observation and reasoning Greek scientists made discoveries in astronomy, physics, medicine, biology and mathematics. A reaction set in led by priests, mystics and the superstitious and gradually science was suppressed. Democritus (460-370 BC), for example, wrote 73 books but not one survived! If practical science hadnít been suppressed for 15 centuries and the "Dark Ages" introduced our current technology might be a thousand years ahead of what it is!

(M)