As might be slightly obvious, I am in favor of scientific literacy and opposed to anti-scientific superstitious nonsense. It is a never-ending issue… nonsense is a remarkably self-restoring force. It gets knocked down here, it rises over there. Witness astrology.
When you have a population that is scientifically illiterate, they can be easily seduced by the siren call of superstitious stupid. And then you get stuff like this:
You really need to read the article to get the full flavor of the overwhelming dumbth on display. But in short, a man was severely beaten in Zimbabwe – that bastion of collectivism success stories – because he was using “mubobobo.” What’s “mubobobo,” you ask? It’s magical witchcraft. Specifically, magic that allows a guy to have sex with someone else without their knowledge. In broad daylight. Without touching them. At some considerable distance. Telepathically.
In other words: BS.
It’s also known as “Bluetooth sex,” not because a Bluetooth wireless device is used, but because the magic supposedly allows the user to remotely violate someone. One could argue that “well, it’s Zimbabwe. Shrug.” But the thing is: the whole concept is patently absurd… but people believe it anyway. People sufficiently technologically advanced to know what “Bluetooth” is and to have digital cameras to take photos of the beating, and to post about it on the web and discuss it online. Is it really so unreasonable to consider that this level of Grade-A superstitious moronery might find its way to the US? Considering all the commercials I see on late night TV for psychic chat lines? Considering the rise of “ghost hunter” shows? The success of homeopathic “medicines?” The relatively recent importation to the west and rise in popularity of eastern magical bullcrap such as Reiki and feng shui indicates that “alien” absurdity can become accepted by large numbers of people who, by all rights, really should know better. So why not mubobobo?
This acceptance of utter bilge is a societal danger. As someone who generally leans libertarian, with the view that what people do with themselves is their own affair, sometimes what people do needs to be countered. The anti-vaccine movement, for example, based as it often is on the myth that vaccines cause autism, has led to a whole lot fewer kids getting vaccinated. On one hand, the “live and let die horribly” part of me is fine with that: unvaccinated kids are more likely to contract and die from diseases they don’t need to, thus thinning the herd slightly and cleaning a smidgeon of idiocy out of the gene pool. On the other hand, it’s not the kids fault that the parents are superstitious idiots. And on the gripping hand, large numbers of the unvaccinated messes with herd immunity, and can risk large numbers of other people.
Further, acceptance of anti-science, and the incorporation of it into public policy, may wind up bringing down civilization. The political Left is forever screeching about climate change and how carbon dioxide is going to kill us all. The political Right is forever screeching about how it’s a hoax. Well… the facts back up the Left more than the Right here, even when you try to eliminate the hyperbole and dubious and sometimes outright fraudulent data collection. The world *is* getting warmer, CO2 levels *are* rising, the climate *is* changing. How much, how fast and how bad are all valid arguments. But the political Lefts anti-science comes into full force on the climate change issue. If this is a problem, fine… suggest a solution. And the only suggestions they seem to support are increasing misery in the west via economic contraction… and putting energy production into the hands of the weather via solar and wind. what they *should* be doing, instead, is supporting wholeheartedly the development of many new nuclear powerplants, including thorium reactors. But on the whole they don’t. They display virtually the same exact superstitious fear of nuclear power as many Zimbabweans seem to have for witchcraft.
I suspect a primary reason why the political Right in the US is unconcerned with global warming is because so many of those who are loudest about the issue only offer solutions that result in economic backsliding, reduced standards of living and shrunken horizons. In one of the great modern political ironies, the “Progressives” are largely opposed to actual progress, while the “Conservatives” want society to become richer and more advanced. The solution to the global warming issue is thus straightforward: propose solutions that not only fix the environment, but increase wealth and the standard of living. But the superstitious dread of nuclear reactions causes far to many people to reject that outright. And thus we enter a cultural death spiral of idiocy.