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To think people are too evidence/science-obsessed?

(85 Posts)
namechangegamee Tue 01-Dec-20 21:22:28

Of course these things are very important when it comes to stuff like politics, because we do need some sort of evidence or hard fact to make correct decisions.

However, I think that this obsession kills that little bit of magic in life otherwise. For example I love superstition, horoscopes and palm reading. I’m a majorly lapsed Catholic but I do still quite like bits of the religion.

Do I believe in any of these things? No.

Do I salute magpies and check my horoscope? Yes.

Why not? I think we don’t have enough of these whimsy little things in our lives, yet so many people think them stupid. I think it adds a little bit of fun to life. I think it’d be boring if everything was completely logical, or if we knew everythinggrin

OP’s posts: |
minipie Tue 01-Dec-20 21:26:26

Sorry YABU

For every harmless whimsical superstition and belief that goes against science, there are a hundred harmful ones. Give me science and fact every time.

(although I do salute magpies...)

namechangegamee Tue 01-Dec-20 21:30:45


I suppose that’s very true, although within movements like anti-vax for example, people are entirely convinced that some made up studies are true. I’m of the opinion that the big harmful movements are people convinced by science— except it’s bad science and they don’t (or don’t want to) believe that it’s bad.

OP’s posts: |
ArthursRoundTable Tue 01-Dec-20 21:31:06

Loads of memes have been floating about on this subject on social media.

I agree that there is such a thing as science being a bit like religion. There can be blind faith.

Evidence is important. The thing is there's different kinds of evidence: qualitative, quantitive etc.

Your experience with the whimsical magical stuff is still a form of evidence. It's empirical evidence of your lived experience. It's just not tangible, but not everything can be.

OoohTheStatsDontLie Tue 01-Dec-20 21:39:14

I think the two can co exist. But actually I think on the whole we are getting worse. Look at trump, he lies about everything denies fact and gets made president. Conspiracy theories are gaining more popularity. People believe any old thing they read on Facebook. Emotion is more important than fact.

But in your example you can research decisions like vaccinations or predictions on brexit etc and look at facts more than soundbites and make sure you've checked your facts etc...while still not walking under ladders or stepping on cracks

ArthursRoundTable Tue 01-Dec-20 21:40:19


Sorry YABU

For every harmless whimsical superstition and belief that goes against science, there are a hundred harmful ones. Give me science and fact every time.

(although I do salute magpies...)

I think the key is asking intelligent questions of both the whimsical superstition and also the science and facts etc.

Believing something just being it's "science" or "fact" can be just as harmful as whimsical superstition. It's always worth questioning the scientific method involved or who was sponsoring the study. Prime example: 50 Years Ago, Sugar Industry Quietly Paid Scientists To Point Blame At Fat. Facts can also be misleading, like statistics, so it's always worth getting the full facts and context before drawing conclusions.

Bottom line: question everything.

OverTheRubicon Tue 01-Dec-20 21:41:14

I only wish this were in any way true.

Instead people who like all kinds of completely made up things have co-opted the language of science to promote utter bollocks (hence all the 'research' into various anti-5G or anti-vax stuff, or to sell really expensive face cream), while utterly rejecting most of the actual scientific method, or at least anything that doesn't fit their starting hypothesis.

I also think that truly great science actually is magical and exciting. It is truly astonishing that we have harnessed streams of electrons and put them through all of our houses to create light. Or that we are all made of star dust (or star stuff, to quote the original). That cats actually do always land on their feet because they move two sections of their bodies to control the rotation. That in the average class of 30 kids there’s a well about 50/50 chance that two of them have the same birthday. There's whimsy in all of that too.

minipie Tue 01-Dec-20 21:41:54

Well sure, science is like statistics, people can pick and choose and take out of comtext. Ultimately though I’d still prefer decisions based on science and statistics (ideally properly analysed and balanced) rather than faith or superstition.

Less fun I guess, but I can’t forget that so many superstitions throughout history have led to a person being persecuted for no good reason ( and in some cases this is still going on - eg FGM - and animals too - eg pangolins, sharks fins)

Sorry for the downer!

WheresMyMask Tue 01-Dec-20 21:43:08

I love science. I like things to be proven. I want to read the evidence and I like to see how good the evidence is, or whether I can tear it to shreds.

I also like a bit of woo. 'You've seen a ghost?! Tell me more!'
I've had my palm read and my tarot cards done. A lot of bullshit but it's indulgent and fun.

Cocomarine Tue 01-Dec-20 21:45:04

Why would you say we don’t have enough of this kind of whimsy?
You’ve mentioned horoscopes, palm reading and magpie counting for a start! Those loads of this stuff about.

ArthursRoundTable Tue 01-Dec-20 21:55:16


The example of awful outcomes from superstitions is also a "pick and choose and take out of context". Pretty sure the guy, Hippasus I think his name was, who discovered irrational numbers and infinite decimals was drowned because he challenged the mathematicians of the time who were big on rational numbers.

Whether it's science or superstition, the reason people get persecuted is usually because they challenge a popular worldview or core belief that feels threatening. Plato's allegory of the cave is a pretty apt example.

You're right in principle. People who hold strong beliefs, whatever they are, can be capable of doing crazy stuff to protect them. I still don't understand the witch-hunt trials: if she floats she's a witch (in which case she's burned) or she drowns and isn't a witch, but a bit dead. Awful.

Science and facts might seem more stable and solid, but it's not quite how people or life works. Humans are not robots... yet. wink

amicissimma Tue 01-Dec-20 21:55:39

While I disagree with you about the whimsical stuff, I think science can be debased. Just running an eye over Mumsnet shows how people find the 'science' that backs their theory and dismiss science that offers an opposing view - 'charlatan' is a popular description of a respected scientist who doesn't support the poster.

I think we have to look carefully at 'science'. It's easy for anyone to emphasis something that supports their work. Particularly watch who benefits (usually financially, or career-wise) from what they've found. Another thing is the checks. 'Peer review' is popular these days. But what exactly is it? What incentive is there for the reviewer to be be fastidious or to agree/disagree with the findings? Are there publications who have reviewed peer review and found mistakes or duplications missed? (Answer: yes)

As science is on-going, describing what we know about the topic now, we should be very careful of claims that something is 'proven' or 'settled'.

OTOH, we do have to use something to guide our actions. But we need to keep an open mind and be ready to change our actions if new information appears, and avoid accusing those making decisions from 'U turns' when they do this.

Eng123 Tue 01-Dec-20 21:59:10

I try to remain in the real world most of the time. Of course I say life is stranger than reality too! YABU.

Scolha Tue 01-Dec-20 22:05:18


You can be both. I am a scientist however I also saw a ghost at work the other month.
The things science has taught us are so amazing, you can’t think that’s not magical.

malificent7 Tue 01-Dec-20 22:17:03

I get you op. I am doing a hard acience course and you soon learn that science is subject to flaws, bias and human perception although it does seek to expose those.
Science should also always be questioned and exposed to vigorous testing. After all, it has given us many positives such as electricity but also bad things such as the atomic bomb.
I am not 100% on board with astrology as written in the papers but i do see the universe as governed by the laws of physics and working like some giant cosmic clock. I believe the moon has an influence on our bodies and moods.
I also believe in ghosts; Lived with one for a year.

Calvinlookingforhobbes Tue 01-Dec-20 22:20:24

Go and read about metaphysics. It’s fascinating!

ArthursRoundTable Tue 01-Dec-20 22:23:31


Agreed. If someone from 300 years ago got on a time machine and saw a colour flatscreen television on or something, then they'd think it was some sort of sorcery. But nope, it is the result of science. thlgrin

The ghost thing is a bit different to science imo. I associate ghost stuff with death, rather than the whimsical or superstitious; it's also perception, assuming no one else saw the ghost. I don't think science can say anything about death (and by extension ghosts, although many ghost hunters try) because the living simply can't acquire that evidence. Death is real; science can prove that much but what, if anything, happens beyond death is unknown and probably always will be too.

Pukkatea Tue 01-Dec-20 22:27:28

I, like PP, find the reality of the scientific, natural universe to be filled with wonder, astonishment and magic beyond any fairy tale that our human brains can concoct.

Audreyseyebrows Tue 01-Dec-20 22:28:52

I think it’d be boring if everything was completely logical, or if we knew everything

I think it would be boring if we all thought the same.

Science can be magical. Evidence can be fascinating.

LostaraYil Tue 01-Dec-20 22:29:08

I think you're missing how magical science is! There is a real wonder in thinking about something like evolution or the universe and appreciating the elegance of science. There is no need for superstitions.

Pukkatea Tue 01-Dec-20 22:29:40

Ghosts are a perfect example - the things going on in our psychology that lead to 'ghosts' are far more fascinating than 'dead people moved stuff'.

meditrina Tue 01-Dec-20 22:32:32

Nothing wrong with a bit of whimsy, superstition and intuition

Just don't let it get in the way of the issues on which proper evidence is needed

Ihatefish Tue 01-Dec-20 22:42:21

The two things are in no way mutually exclusive though. Carl Jung held firm esoteric beliefs, Freud believed in telepathy, Marie currie attended seances, sir Isaac Newton spent a lot of his life trying to create the philosophers stone and studied Hermeticism.

This year has proved that people generally have little understanding of science which basically observes nature, technology uses those laws for novel uses. Scientific evidence is seeing the same thing happening over and over in controlled environments. You can see something magical happening over and over.

As Shakespeare (whether he’s the man from Stratford or not said) “There are more things in heaven and earth... than are dreamt of in your philosophy” or Blake “everything which is now proved was once only imagined”.

Merename Tue 01-Dec-20 22:42:50

I agree with you OP. I’ll get my hard had on for this, but I think it’s fascinating actually, the things that most people believe are scientifically proven to be true. The most significant example in my view being that the mind comes from the brain. This has come to be assumed as scientific fact but in fact there is no clear proof and it has been called ‘the hard problem’ in neuroscience. Some scientists think that it will just be proven in years to come, but I think it is amazing how strongly and collectively it is held to be fact without firm evidence.

Facelikearustytractor Tue 01-Dec-20 22:43:12

I'm with you on this OP. I'm someone who is very skeptical, but open to a bit of the unknown too. There are a lot of things that people might say don't exist at all and are all in the mind due to science saying there is no evidence for it now, but as technology and both our species and our understanding of the world evolves, it may start to make sense - just not in the way we first imagined. Science is about finding evidence to support or not support a theory. It never says something doesn't exist at all. There is always a small margin of error, so it can't.

I see horoscopes as a bit of harmless fun really. I do notice some trends - most scorpios I know take pride in being blunt and honest. I grew up with a lot of woo and weird theories, so it's part of who I am. It has been to my benefit too as it helps me be a bit more philosophical about the bad stuff. To think that life is just as science would have us believe would be a bit depressing really.

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