Sunday, April 25, 2010

Faith, Aliens and Herbal Remedies

I was speaking to someone the other day about homeopathy. What surprised me was not this person's robust defence of the practice,  - in fact they made no attempt to do so - it was my own knee-jerk reaction to it. I trotted out the usual scientific line about the quantities being insufficient for any appropriately beneficial metabolism and it was only after a little research that it became clear that whether or not homeopathy has any benefit, my reaction to one of its proponents was less than adequate. It further became clear to me that I had no idea what I was talking about. I had fallen for a stereotype, or more properly an archetype which did not necessarily have any factual basis. I then began to wonder how many other things I simply 'reacted' to or dismissed without any clarity of thought. I know someone well, a reasonable, well-educated individual, who believes in a literal Adam and Eve. I don't, but my reaction to their belief was an urge to dismantle it in the light of what I might suppose to be superior rational thinking, when the postulate requires nothing of the kind, since concepts like 'belief' in the sense of 'faith' often (I won't say 'never') cross over the tramline of  empirical or provable science. Stephen Hawking, in the light of massive advances in theoretical physics has suggested the hitherto unprovable proposition that since it is likely that there are billions of planets on which 'life' might evolve, the probability of there not being sentience - in the same way as we might comprehend it - is remote somewhere in the Universe. Were we able to and if we were to decide to 'make friends' with it or them, as SETI seems bent on achieving,we may find ourselves the subject of unhealthy interest from civilisations more advanced and possibly considerably more rapacious and malevolent than our own, with life forms possibly having brains shaped like pretzels, according to Murray Gell-Mann. A small quantity of malevolence might be able, it seems, to poison a planet. Much the same as reversed homeopathy, I suppose...


  1. What?! Adam and Eve didn't really exist? (Interesting premise that 'superior rational thinking' dismantles belief... I guess it depends on the purveyor of rationality and the faith of the adherent.) lol
    Homeopathy is beneficial if only due to the Halo Effect; in my opinion, that still counts as working. No superior rational thinking required. =)

  2. I had to look this up...and this is what it told me about the Halo Effect...
    Attractive people are often judged as having a more desirable personality and more skills than someone of average appearance.
    Oh, dear me. Skill-less and quite undesirable all round, then.


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