I read here (about scientology) (interesting comments by the way) :
I went to Art Center College of Design, where Ray Bradbury was on the board. He was a taciturn fellow, but recounted a story that I don’t know if it’s true or not, but basically he said Scientology was started on a dare.
That’s right; A DARE.
He said he and his contemporary sci-fi writer, L Ron Hubbard were discussing how religion is an obsolete human need, that science was taking its place, and that people didn’t need to believe in things like that anymore and that there could not be any new religions because humanity was past it. All religions are old religions (or factions thereof, like Mormonism via Christianity)
Well apparently L Ron bet him that he could create a new religion and wrote Dianetics, then created Scientology. It became so lucrative that essentially he went crazy, did in fact dodge taxes to the extent where he was living on a boat in international waters for the remainder of this life.
Bradbury was none to pleased about losing the bet.
So… I am like Bradbury. I can’t believe people would fall for it and I have the strange hope that science is prevailing. Still … this guy managed to create a new religion. “unbelievable but true”. However… when I would live in 0 BC I probably would think the same. Heck, when I would live 2500 BCE I probably would be of the opinion that “we now live in a age where, after Imhotep, people probably won’t fall anymore for cults, religions and related anymore”… When I would live 5000 years BCE in Byblos I would probably think “well… we now live in a civilized age where noone is really going to believe that our current dictator is actually a God…” (where he became THE god)…. (OMG!).
I saw an interview with James Randi on the Tros TV Show lately who debunked so many frauds like Uri Geller, James Hydrick, Joao de Deus, Allison DeBois (from the tv series Medium…) and so on and so on.. but most of them still make a lot of money. So no matter what happens the shows goes on. So why? How in the hell do these people actually get zillions of people giving them money?
And that is the real question. I read this course which gives some examples. And there are millions of sites who explains the nonsense of basically every fraud, from Nostradamus to organized religions to ufo-crazies to conspiracy-crazies and zillions of cults. But… the audience seems to be growing instead of the other way around.
I notice this also on my blog. Whenever I post something about “a strange thing” that article just get a lot of hits (see e.g. “is putin the anti-christ”). Somehow there are LOADS of people just surfing for these kinds of things. I just “did something funny” with an image, some mysterious text copy and pasted and wammo, shitloads of visitors. Science article? 4 visitors! “Bush Killed Kennedy” thousands of visitors!
Notice YouTube: just post something with UFO, no matter if it has been debunked a zillion times, mumble something as “conspiracy from people in your class who got better grades and got a science job instead of janitor…” and wammo 10.000.000 visitors all commenting on how mysterious our world is…………
Acupuncture is a good ‘case’. After so many years and so many researches they all basically say “nonsense”. But what happens? Nothing. People make still a gazillion dollars in the acupuncture industry.
So… I think that is the real problem to crack. I don’t think discussions with religious people, cult people, religion 2.0 people, paranormal xxx believers, conspiracy believers and so on are of any use. Maybe you can drop some interesting points but its to no avail. The feedback is mostly “fuzzy”, as in “you should not think”….. or “there is more between heaven and earth”.
And all in all “my group” is only a teeny weeny teeny weeny little percentage of the people on earth. A mega minority.
So … what is the problem here? Is it the absence of critical thinking classes in our education system? Could that be it? That critical thinking classes are only part of (some) university educations?
I really want to solve this problem, it’s an interesting one. Or actually… I want you to solve it.