The irrational prejudice of the rational

I came across an interesting story today about whether or not scientists, used as a synonym for “intelligent, rational people” I guess, should date people who profess a nonsense belief like astrology.

Slashdot | Should Scientists Date People Who Believe Astrology?

I find this an interesting statement, but not for the same reason they’d have me find it interesting. The issue here isn’t why rational people have irrational ideas, but why people are happy to put some ideas away to irrationality and superstition when there evidence against is no stronger than the evidence for.

To use Astrology as an example, and noting that I have a vaguest layman’s idea of planetary physics and other sciences, i’m not sure why there cannot be a grain of truth amidst the superstition.

The moon has a profound effect on the earth, its gravitional field affects the tides and people have long noted another superstition that that phase of the moon appears to affect our mental state as well, hence the word Lunacy.  Many people in the service industry become quite pensive approaching a full moon.  Not evidence for any direct causal link, but passing interesting.

We are physical beings and whether or not we have a soul or a creator has no impact on our bodies and minds being subject to the same physical forces as everything else, including the earth we stand on.  It would be foolish to think then that the moon, which has such a profound effect on the earth, would have absolutely no effect at all on us.

Thus, then, other planets.  They are further away, though often larger, than the moon, and if they affect the earth they do it in far less visible ways.  So to, if they affect us, the effect would be more subtle, and less visible, and quite possibly psychological.

Can they tell us the future?  I don’t know that I believe that. Can the position of the planets affect our development, our minds and the way we act?  Thats somewhat easier to believe, and very difficult to prove either way.

The point is, a believer in astrology might, sometimes, be more gullible or credulous than someone who isn’t.  But it isn’t the belief that makes them so, and the belief isn’t necessarily even an indicator of same.  There are far more foolish beliefs held out there, such as the belief that you have the right to ridicule other people based on theirs.

So if you have to ask this question, don’t date them.  Leave them alone.  They’ll live happier lives for not having to deal with your insecurities.


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