You can get into a habit of thought in which you enjoy making fun of all those other people who don’t see things as clearly as you do. We have to guard carefully against it. - Carl Sagan
Yesterday I was telling one of my coworkers about the program I watched on Sunday concerning Voodoo. She is a strong believer of the magic of Voodoo - not the religion, because she thinks it is part of what she calls the "dark side." This because, she tells me, she saw it "work" once on a neighbor who died shortly after a roots worker sprinkled some concoction around his house and "cast a spell." So afraid is she of this Voodoo that she turned down my offer to lend her my dvd, even though she said it sounded interesting.
Of course you folks know I live in the Bible Belt, where supernatural things are happening everyday. Here evolution is "just a theory" and demons strive against believers all the time.
Just about everywhere, I suppose, the lottery is played by those who believe in luck. Good luck charms are worn and bad-luck activities (like walking under ladders and stepping on cracks) are religiously avoided.
And I'm sure all of you have heard that 9-11 was really an inside job, right?
Lots and lots of strange things are thought to be a part of the universe. Lots and lots of strange things really are a part of the universe. There is more we don't know, it seems, than what we do know.
So there are plenty of opportunities to give the old horselaugh to people who think differently than we do. And if you are like me, you are often the recipient of it.
Making fun of people for what they think or believe, I'm convinced, doesn't work as a strategy for encouraging broad thinking. Neither does a petrified mindset that refuses to challenge one's own thinking.
What does work? Mostly nothing. People have biases and those are usually deeply entrenched. But a little non-condescending discussion can go a long way, at least in getting people to entertain alternative ways of thinking about things. Hey, and a little humility on our own part can only help. "To err is human," haven't you heard?