Believing Things w/o Research.

From the LTE archives. circa 2003. I don’t have the original letter from Mr Snyder and have not tried to locate it. – ed

I appreciate Steve Snyder , Midlothian Today 2-13-03 , for checking out those items noted for the “Stella” Award. I was more than willing to believe the stories of extraordinary lawsuits with big awards. It supports my feeling that I pay too much for insurance and the inflation eating my paycheck has a tangible foe.

Superstition is a part of our culture, whether it be Tarot Cards, guiding stars, tea leaves, or spirits that listen to our wishes, guide our daily lives, and determine the outcome of sporting events. Some people will be willing to believe things even when critical investigation shows them to be false, unlikely, or perhaps even in violation of physical laws, as we know them. Some will fail to investigate things or listen to critical analysis because it’s already works for them to believe ‘as is’. In many cases it is not possible to prove, beyond all doubt, that these things don’t exist or are not possible. I suppose I’m not really ready to stop giving others the ‘benefit of the doubt’ when I hear things that may be unlikely. The world could possibly be worse off with a world of cynics and those that would require 100% proof before going forward. We would still be in the Dark Ages if many people in our history had not moved ahead with only unsubstantiated ideas to guide them. You should be willing to believe people or events relative to the cost of such a belief. It really does me little harm if someone wants to bless me when I sneeze, knock on wood when there may be some danger of altering time and space by speculating on the future, or attribute the course of our lives to purple triangles on the far side of the universe. So long as I am not required to adopt their superstitions, support them involuntarily, or base substantial action or even inaction on their likelihood, people are free to think as they wish. When someone requires that you give up time-tested theories of how the world works, it’s time to require more than unsubstantiated claims.

In 2003 there are still many places around the world where people are dying in battles to see who has the most powerful supernatural friend(s). The outrage is our failure to use intellect and experience to realize our potential as human beings guiding the destiny of this planet. We need to encourage critical thinking skills and the ability to look for long-term solutions. We can’t do that if we are willing to relinquish control of our destiny to forces that cannot even be proven to exist, much less exert control.

Thanks Mr. Snyder, now if we can convince a few billion more people, the world will be a better, safer place.

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