Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Superstition

Just finished reading a book, purporting to be about science, where the author was ridiculously ignorant about what science even means. Maybe not ignorant as much as self-serving. He had his worldview, which obviously all right thinking people must share, and a firm belief that anyone who didn't share it had a broken part in the brain. From that stance, science was a search through technology to confirm the 'truths' he already held.

Underneath it all, there is a key thought that might be immensely powerful, but I don't think the author even noticed.

That said, I'm pretty confident that anyone with a modicum of training in actual science would have been appalled by the book as I was... but it was recommended to me by a highly intelligent young man. So why aren't people given a solid education in critical thinking and the scientific method?

Second piece of the thought, stemming from a conversation with Marc MacYoung and touching on the worlds of politics and self defense, on Rotherham and gun control and a bureaucracy completely out of control.

As strange as it seems, I am coming to believe that there are some people, maybe many, who believe that rules actually exist. That when you write a law it actually changes the world. That when you forbid bullying in school, bullying will magically decrease. And magically is the operative word because there is nothing inherent in paper and ink to change people's behavior. Unenforced, rules only have power over the people who consciously agree to abide by them or those so brainwashed or superstitious that they, too believe the rules are real. Someone who believes that a "Keep Off The Grass" sign actually forces people not to walk on grass.

As such, these laws and rules and policies are simply complex spells. And like most magic, they only work on the people who believe (consciously or not) in magic. And making more and more rules has the horrific affect of controlling the people who would voluntarily control their own behavior while doing absolutely nothing for the few who won't. And, as in Rotherham, the priests of this religion get rewarded for doing the rituals correctly even if the bad guys actually gained power. Because energy going into casting spells isn't going into solving problems, no matter what the superstitious want to believe.

If you saw a lithic-technology native who had never contacted Western civilization before and he told you that he wore a cord woven of a red leaf to keep his mother healthy, you'd probably have some pretty condescending thoughts. You'd recognize the superstition and ignorance of sympathetic magic. So, tell me, do you ever wear a pink ribbon for breast cancer?

Like all sympathetic magic, the awareness campaigns give the feeling of doing something without actually putting in the effort and expense. Contribute money to research? Volunteer for hospice? Those are acts and they do something. Wear a ribbon or put a sign on your lawn? That's voodoo. Don't get me wrong, some people are making a hell of a living from running charity campaigns. So your superstition is serving somebody.

Visualizing world peace doesn't work. And it's obviously a stupid platitude, obviously ridiculous, obviously dependent on magic. But a bumper sticker that says "Support Our Troops"gives the actual troops zero support. And if you have that bumper sticker but talked your own kids out of signing up, I wish the hypocrisy would make your head explode.

Struck again with how robust the patterns are. Our ancestors in loincloths making sacrifices and cowering in their huts from the thunder-- that's still us. And we're still using the same tools, whether we realize it or not.

12 comments:

pax said...

Like honking your horn to break up a traffic jam...

Old Bull Lee said...

"I will accept any rules that you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do."

Tony said...

This made me think of an observation from Scott Hahn, that we cannot break physical (and moral and spiritual) laws, we can only break ourselves against them. Take the law of gravity (which is more of a theory really...) If we understand it, and work within it, we can fly; if we defy it we fall. Often from great heights with ruinous results.

Anonymous said...

Well, I know for sure and seen that rules do exist. They exist for the systems they work for. Only when the systems themselves crash and burn do they cease to exist. One of the most robust systems is nature itself. One of the most fragile is one that is made by humans and supported/ propagated by only a few.

The question is: how pervasive is the system we are currently referring to? That can have a big impact on enforcement of rules.

The European Historical Combat Guild said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

That whooshing sound you hear...? It's the point, flying overhead.

Tiff said...

Another poignant post, Rory -- like I've asserted before, you write best with passion (read: piss 'n vinegar). :)

TWW said...

Interesting post. It explains the signs saying people are not supposed to have guns inside a business.

Anonymous said...

Off topic with the theme but re: Support Our Troops but talk the kids out of joining. This could be very understandable if the parents knew someone (had a friend/relative) who was killed or horribly maimed in action. I'd only call it hypocrisy if the kids actually joined and the parents then disowned them. And there are more ways of giving support then signing up.

Ymar Sakar said...

The UK is an example of why they ban people like Tim Larkin. They don't want lethal force to be an option, because they use the civilization reason that you don't need it, and if you use it, you're going to jail.

But Rotter shows that it's either or the other thing. When the legal system is the enemy, your choices are limited. When your LEO and bureaucrat rulers are the enemy, your choices are limited. Thus you need power to bypass the block. When the enemy of the community is legion and protected by the British order and hierarchy, your choices when restricted to non lethal, serves the control factor.

Because slavery requires non lethal options.

Scott said...

Many people have trouble distinguishing their self from reality. You're killin' it Rory. How much would you charge for one of your loin clothes framed and matted?

giaonhan247 said...

Thanks for sharing, nice post! Post really provice useful information!

FadoExpress là một trong những top công ty chuyển phát nhanh quốc tế hàng đầu chuyên vận chuyển, chuyển phát nhanh siêu tốc đi khắp thế giới, nổi bật là dịch vụ gửi hàng đi nhậtgửi hàng đi pháp và dịch vụ chuyển phát nhanh đi hàn quốc uy tín, giá rẻ