Friday, 18 August 2006

Americans more prone to supernatural nonsense

Americans are more likely to believe in supernatural bollocks than almost anyone else in any other Western country. That's the clear and unfortunate conclusion of research recently published in 'Science' magazine.

Surely proof if proof were needed that freedom is a greater indicator of prosperity than clear-headedness.

That's a graph on the right collating the results of surveying 32 European countries, the US and Japan which reveals "that only Turkey is less willing than the US to accept evolution as fact." You might view it as a 'sanity ranking.' Said the study's author of the US's position:
American Protestantism is more fundamentalist than anybody except perhaps the Islamic fundamentalists, which is why Turkey and we are so close.
The result is disturbing for those who value science and reason. Of reason and science and evolution, James Watson, co-discover of the secrets of DNA had this to say:
One of the greatest gifts science has brought to the world is continuing elimination of the supernatural, and it was a lesson that my father passed on to me, that knowledge liberates mankind from superstition. We can live our lives without the constant fear that we have offended this or that deity who must be placated by incantation or sacrifice, or that we are at the mercy of devils or the Fates. With increasing knowledge, the intellectual darkness that surrounds us is illuminated and we learn more of the beauty and wonder of the natural world.

Let us not beat about the bush — the common assumption that evolution through natural selection is a "theory" in the same way as string theory is a theory is wrong. Evolution is a law (with several components) that is as well substantiated as any other natural law, whether the law of gravity, the laws of motion or Avogadro's law. Evolution is a fact, disputed only by those who choose to ignore the evidence, put their common sense on hold and believe instead that unchanging knowledge and wisdom can be reached only by revelation.
Sadly, the number of people in the world's most prosperous country "who put their common sense on hold" is increasing rather than decreasing. Rationality is on the slide. Twenty years ago the percentage of people in the US who accepted the idea that the earth was created only six-thousand years ago and that Joshua made the earth stop turning for twelve hours were just 55 percent of the population.

But now the number of nutters who believe that what their imaginary friend said is superior to reason and evidence-based science has increased to sixty percent!

It's hard really to know who is the least sane. Those who believe in the supernatural, or those who follow the equally irrational postmodernism lampooned in yesterday's post. Science is under attack on both fronts.

In any case, my heart goes out to anyone with a brain living in Kansas. All I can offer you in recompense is this account of the crucial and highly entertaining cross-examination of William Jennings Bryan in the Scopes Monkey Trial, and a link to my own three-part series on Unintelligent Design.

LINKS: Public acceptance of evolution - Jon D. Miller et al, Science Magazine
Unintelligent Design, Part 1 - Not PC (Peter Cresswell)
Fighting evidence-based medicine with postmodernist bollocks -
Not PC (Peter Cresswell)
Darrow vs. Bryan - website for Positive Atheism Magazine

Science, Religion, Nonsense


  1. PC said...
    [Americans are more likely to believe in supernatural]

    I think that it happens right here in NZ. There hasn't been any survey on this, but man, popular psychic talk shows are popping up here & there, TV1, TV2, TV3. Psychic Colin Fry had a regular series on TV1. A regular series on TV2 for 'Sensing Murder', where psychics do guess the place where the body of an unsolved murder victim in the past can be found. TV3 had psychic Jeanette Wilson a regular weekly series in 2005. She supposedly can talk to the dead? How stupid & naive any person on earth could believe those 1000 year myth, that somehow dead people can come back to talk. I protested to TV3 via an email for such a one-sided report on this charlatan. They interviewed no statisticians, no physicist, no psychologist and no philosopher. A statistician can test using a control group to guess and compare with the success rate of Jeanette. In probability statistical tests, it will DEFINITELY shows that her claim & ability is in no more significant than the control group. Vicki Hyde (Chairperson) of the NZ Skeptics had protested to TV3, but ignored. TV3 would not want her view shown on TV, despite interviewing her for the show, because people might switch to other channel. That means low rating. A psychologist could have explained in the show, that when the human mind becomes deluded, it tricked itself to self-believe that what they think & believe are true, even things that contradict Physics. A Physicist would comment that if the dead are non-physical entity according to psychics claim, then talking to them is BULLSHIT. How can a non-physical entity (spirit of the dead) interact with a physical entity (human who is made of atoms) to communicate with each other? Physical materials (atoms) do obey 'laws of physics' and never violate them. Non-physical entity as spirit does violates laws of physics according to proponent of psychic & religious followers. Such non-physical entity can be everywhere at once (Wellington & Auckland) simultaneously. This is why religious fanatics & psychic practitioners have jumped & claimed that Quantum Mechanics have proved the existence of a supernatural entity, because of 'instantaneous communications' that was proved in 1997 at Innsbruck University, Austria. This phenomenon is also called 'Non-local Universe'. This experiment was an improvement over the original experiment done by Aspect in the 1970s to prove that ‘Bell’s Theorem’ is violated. Innsbruck apparatus is a double delay version of Aspect. Experimental observations are facts, however psychics just jumped the bandwagon and said, that's it, spiritual world is non-local, and therefore they exist. They misunderstood the result of the experiment and it is irrelevant to tie the 'Innsbruck Experiment' to spirit. This what Penn & Teller have been saying all along? This is Bullshit, Bullshit, and Bullshit.

    Supernatural is huge in this country (NZ). You have horoscopes, astrologer’s comments being published on newspapers & women's magazines regularly. Psychics do have regular columns in some newspapers. My point is, we are as bad as the Americans.

    Supernatural non-sense is a multi-billion dollar business worldwide. I would like to tell any faith-based practitioner out there to shut up and disappear. Either show that evidence to their claim has statistical significance or stop conning people to pay for their advice. Such naïve people who follow supernatural nonsense could end up, abandoning the medical doctor’s advice, thus following the unsubstantiated claims of charlatans.

    Robin, whom I assume does frequent this site, blogged about Jeanette Wilson (Charlatan), which is found here.

  2. H.L.Mencken said it:

    "the most common of follies is passionately believe in the palpably not true; it is the chief occupation of mankind."

    I recommend Michael Shermer's book "why people believe weird things" it's excellent and has great chapters on the definition and meaning of science and a chapter on evolution v creationism - oh, sorry, I mean "intelligent design".

  3. Falafulu Fisi, I'm an Aires, how about you?

  4. Leelion said...
    [Falafulu Fisi, I'm an Aires, how about you?]

    I was born in March , so I have no clue to what it correspond to.

  5. My star sign is Uranus. :-)

  6. Falafulu Fisi said...
    [This is why religious fanatics & psychic practitioners have jumped & claimed that Quantum Mechanics have proved the existence of a supernatural entity, because of 'instantaneous communications' that was proved in 1997 at Innsbruck University, Austria. This phenomenon is also called 'Non-local Universe']

    Here is the abstract for Non-Local Universe experiment at Innsbruck University. It is a paid subscription site , Physics Review Letters peer review journal. However , if anyone is interested in the whole paper, you can find it at Auckland University library , science section (mezzanine). I read it about 5 years ago, and I am not sure if the University still stores them in the library or archive. Just ask the librarian if the specific volume of the journal is not available from the shelf.

    "Violation of Bell's Inequality under Strict Einstein Locality Conditions"

    I am a bit puzzle to who first achieved experimentally the 'non-local universe' or 'quantum-entanglement' (another name for it). The Innsbruck team from Austrial or the team from Geneva University, Switzerland. The Innsbruck team paper dated to 1998, while the Geneva team dated to 1997. The papers from the Geneva team can be downloaded for free from here:

    "Non-local two-photon correlations using interferometers physically separated by 35 meters"

    "Violation of Bell inequalities by photons more than 10 km apart"

    "Experimental demonstration of quantum correlations over more than 10 km"

    Here are some interesting links:

    "Signal Travels Farther and Faster Than Light"

    "Non-local Universe"

    "Quantum Philosophy"

    "The Divine Nonlocal Universe"

  7. NZ isn't half as bad as the US. Here are some indicators:

    - Virtually nil public debate about evolution;
    - Greatest extent of Christian political mobilisation couldn't even reach 5%;
    - Christian wing of the National Party has little influence;
    - Christian broadcasters had to sell the TV broadcast spectrum they owned to help fund their radio network. Christian TV remains very erratic in NZ. Radio Rhema doesn't manage more than 2% listenership on average where it broadcasts.

    The biggest ghost worshipping that is "sacred" is Maori spirituality.

  8. I think that Objectivists would love this article, but perhaps that supernatural believers would hate it. If Quantum Entanglement (Non-local Universe) does not happen according to the article, then it implies that supernatural entity also does not exist. The PDF document is freely downloadable and surprise, a statistician is challenging mainstream Quantum Physicists. I suggest starting with the EPR (link #2), before reading link #1, so as to understand what the author is saying about the absurdity of QM (Quantum Mechanics).

    #1) "Quantum Entanglement Does Not Happen!"

    #2) "Einstein Podolsky Rosen (EPR) Paradox"

  9. HEY! I see the Virgin Mary in your chart! (Or is it Elvis?)

  10. Here is a laugh, be ready for a big laugh. Just download the paper and read how supernatural proponents link Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen phenomenon & Non-local interactions to treatment in homeopathy. I think that there should be a Nobel Prize either in medicine or physics awarded to the homeopathy for irrelevant babbling about applying quantum mechics to homeopathy treatment. When I first came across this document I expected to see some 'Schrodinger' quantum wave equation, but none. All rubbish, from beginning to the end.

    "Magic of Signs: A Nonlocal Interpretation of Homeopathy"

    Here is another blog site about the subject of Quantum Mechanics misused.

    "Unintelligent Design : The Emperor's New Science"

  11. Here is the shorter link for Quantum Homeopathy article if the previous link (too long probably) didn’t work.

    Now, the first comment from Unintelligent Design website regarding Quantum homeopathy, I just couldn’t stop laughing by the meaning of the comment.

    "the granola said..."
    [People can't be entangled. Only subatomic particles can. Even if two people were full of subatomic particles that were entangled, they would not be entangled]

    English is my second language and the term 'unbundling' I have heard before. I have used it in different context during conversations, etc. But when the Telecom unbundling came along, I found new context to the meaning of the term unbundling. Now, as some blog sites, including PC have posted articles about Annette Presley's lobbying effort to have the government unbundle Telecom's lines. I have just found out today a new context to the meaning of the term 'entangle' as posted by 'the granola' shown above. Now, in Quantum homeopathy, 2 people (patient & practitioner) can supposedly entangle together and when their wave function collapsed (Perhaps I don't know what does that mean), the patient is supposed to be automatically cured.

    I have 2 concepts added to my knowledge, that I think that they are related to each other or applied interchangeably. I wondered how Annette Presley would view 'Unbundling' & 'Entangling'. Annette wants Telecom to be unbundled while Telecom proponents want Telecom to remain entangled. Perhaps, that we are seeing some Quantum thinking from our government & some our business people (Annette).

  12. libertyscott said...
    [The biggest ghost worshipping that is "sacred" is Maori spirituality.]

    I completely agree here. I think that Rodney Hide raised this issue in Parliament last year about spending tax-payer money on embassy spiritual cleansing ceremony. Usually a group of Maori travels to any new NZ embassy overseas to perform some cleansing before the formal opening. I thought that we live in a modern world with modern knowledge in science, but we are still endorsing such bullshit like we are still in the 1800s. Good on Rodney Hide for bringing this political correctness issue into the public's attention.

  13. wow, you people are morons... Creationism is not Intelligent Design.
    This article should be retitled, "Idiots more prone to calling known supernatural phenomenon nonsense."


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.