Science, religion and delusion

"Good people will do good things, and bad people will do bad things. But for good people to do bad things – that takes religion."
Steven Weinberg, Nobel laureate

I'll change this statement, only slightly, to "Good people will do good things, and bad people will do bad things. But for good people to do bad things – that takes delusion."

This page written 2017/05/19 – ©
Contact: email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com (David K. Clarke)

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Religion can serve as the delusion that causes good people to do bad things, but other delusions will do the job just as well: the delusion that vaccinations or fluoridated water are harmful, that anthropogenic (man-made) climate change isn't real, that short-turn profits are more important than protecting our environment, that wind turbines make people sick.

Why pick on Sarah Laurie?
In 2004 I became sufficiently concerned about the lies being told about wind power to start writing net pages giving the facts. The subject became one of my main activities. In 2010 Sarah (then doctor) Laurie, who lives only 12 kilometres from me, started her campaign. Her campaign, based on fear, was probably much more effective than mine, based on fact.
Wind turbines at sunrise in South Australia
Wind turbines
As an example I'll cite Sarah Laurie, who travelled Australia and the world telling people that if they lived near wind turbines they would become ill. Ms Laurie has done enormous harm while she believed she was doing good. She slowed the take-up of clean, renewable wind energy, which was desperately needed, along with other forms of renewable energy, to replace fossil fuels and limit climate change and ocean acidification. The burning of coal kills millions of people world wide each year; wind power save lives by displacing coal-fired power stations.

She made people needlessly anxious, and anxiety can itself lead to illness. She mislead people about the causes of their symptoms, so that they didn't look for relief in the right places.

She was deluding herself and causing other to do the same.

Her error was in not examining her 'evidence' critically. She accepted as evidence those stories that agreed with her preconceptions rather than searching out the evidence that was based in science. She embraced the religion of Wind Turbine Syndrome.

The only reliable way that mankind has ever found to understand the world is through science. Religion has provided fairy stories in an attempt to explain the world; science uses observation and reason to search for truth.

Some might say that science is just another religion. No! Science is based on sound, verifiable evidence; religion is based on unsubstantiated belief. Science is based on reason, religion is based on blind faith. Science is based on doubting and questioning, religion is based on accepting. Science is based on searching for truth, religion is based on being given falsehoods and being satisfied to accept them. Science and religion have nothing in common.

The deepest roots of science are in philosophy, and philosophy, like science, is based on reason, doubt and searching.

Finally, it should be said that Ms Laurie would not have been able to do anything like so much harm without lazy and sensation-seeking journalists and reporters who were very pleased to publicise her delusion without researching the credibility of her claims. In fact, had Ms Laurie's unsubstantiated and naïve claims been ignored by the media, as they should have been, she would have quite probably soon given up on her campaign.

Don't waste your advantages

The human brain is a remarkable instrument; the only thing in the Universe that we know of that is capable of understanding how the Universe works. Science is a remarkable tool; the only tool we know of that is capable of allowing us to understand how the Universe works.

We all use our brains, but if we use tools other than science to try to understand how the world works we can make egregious errors. Don't waste your amazing brain by ignoring science.

Related pages on this site...

Climate change
Divining: another delusion
Killer coal
Rationality: not a strong trait in humans
Religion and other delusions
Wind energy opposition
Wind power opposition and climate science denial
Wind turbines save lives