Superstition and science

Well, Thursday came and went with absolutely none of the goodies arriving for me as promised by astrologer Susan Miller. I did not get a “big professional victory” nor a “surprising influx of unexpected cash” (can something be surprising and expected?). Of course, I did not “help things along” by doing the things she recommended such as arranging for a “big presentation, interview, or other major career event” nor did I launch a “new website or send out a press release on a recent victory”, so it may have been all my fault. I suspect that this is how believers in astrology rationalize when things fail to materialize.

Talking of astrology, India achieved a major technological advance by successfully putting a satellite in orbit around Mars on its first attempt for the surprisingly low cost of $74 million.

NPR reported on the event and used it to make a surprising segue to discuss the ubiquity of beliefs in astrology in that country and how it can be that so many people in India, scientists and others, can be so sophisticated and scientific while still taking horoscopes seriously. It was an interesting story in that it gave voice to many people to explain why they believe in astrology.

But the story was also interesting because of NPR’s own lack of self-awareness. After all, the US is a highly advanced country in terms of science and technology, even more so than India. And yet the people here too are deeply gripped by religious superstitions. And yet, the reasons for that are never discussed seriously in the media.

Other people’s beliefs are superstitions. Our own beliefs are rational. Even if both lack any basis.

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