It is hard to see trouble in a child believing in fairies and romping happily in the garden with them. Most people would be hard pressed to sit that child down and explain not only that there are no fairies but that believing in them is harmful. It is seemingly difficult to draw a line representing the divide between harmless play and harmful superstition. Now, imagine that same delightful little child playing blissfully in back yard with their fairies. The child now has taken to bullying other children saying that the fairies don't like them. I do not believe any self respecting parent would hesitate at this point to take that child aside and explain that there are no fairies, and that the child’s behaviour is inappropriate. We may go as far as offering some punishment for the digression. Such an obvious example may seem unfair but I don't believe it is far fetched and it provides us with a clear line between harmless and dangerous, the line is simply the point in which a superstition is the catalyst or excuse of a behaviour. The question arises, does the child really believe the fairies are there and making her bully her peers or is it simply an excuse for her own actions? The answer is beyond most of us and for the sake of determining the pain of superstition it is meaningless. In this case a superstition caused a perfectly innocent human being to change their behaviours and impact an other.
One may ask oneself if superstition acting as a causal effect is bad, can't an irrational belief guide someone in a positive behaviour toward altruism and compassion. Arguments against this point of view have been very clearly laid out, and brilliantly explained in the novel “God Delusion” by Professor Richard Dawkins and is not in the scope of this post. The profound and carefully proofs laid out by Professor Dawkins aside I believe there is something to be said for free will and I would certainly count the removal of free will as a distinct pain.
Please Review the following from the December Bulletin for The-Brights.net
Yikes! - Reckless Supernatural Thinking
From James (Michigan, USA): “As a surgeon I know supernatural thinking deeply affects our medical decisions and practice. Doctors more often than not make decisions based on belief and then actually delude themselves about the consequences, even training others to follow suit.”
Please Review: Why Superstition Works in Business