Leaving the Land of Woo

A rational, sceptical look at the ideas of alternative medicine, food, religion, and the paranormal

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Sample extract from ch 1

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The world abounds in interesting, curious, fascinating, and challenging phenomena. There are so many areas of human study and knowledge that we have insufficient space even to list them. So much is known about our world and even our universe that it already far exceeds the capacity of any single individual. Much of that knowledge came at considerable cost and effort to those pioneers who asked the questions and sought the answers. As never before, we can build on the foundation of a deep understanding of physical, chemical and biological processes, and we can direct our efforts at finding out more and more. The fascination and wonder arising from our study of the natural world, far exceeds anything that we can deliver as fiction. Science fact really is stranger and more challenging than science fiction.

Nevertheless, there are many people who have not had access to this world of knowledge, or who perhaps through disenchantment with their early experience of science, have remain closed to its progress. Despite being intelligent, well-educated, thinking people, they do not approach extraordinary claims sceptically. Sometimes it is because they do not realise that such claims are indeed extraordinary, and that they demand explanation and evidence. For example, someone who does not know what the liver does, will be far more susceptible to misinformation about detox.

What we are calling The Land of Woo is that growing sector which relies on mystical or unfounded beliefs about how the world is, and how it works. It includes religions because these are based on substantial claims not just about how we ought to live, but about how the world actually is. Most religions claim various things about original causes, supernatural entities, apparitions able to change the course of human destiny, souls, extra-terrestrial places like heaven and hell, angels and demons, miracles, and omniscient beings.

There is a commercial sector of Woo which includes those businesses based on alternative medicine and therapy which propose radically challenging theories of how the human body functions, and there are also those people who make claims about paranormal activities including ghosts, and psychic phenomena.

The Land of Woo is a very popular tourist destination for those seeking a different landscape, maybe for a mental holiday but perhaps for some people a place to live permanently. The intention of the chapters that follow is to take a critical look at these claims and to assess the credibility of the theories that underpin them. It is my hope that by helping readers to adopt a sceptical viewpoint, to look at and assess the evidence, to criticise the theories, they will be able to see the Land of Woo for what it is - a land of superstition and ignorance, where the gullible or simply the unwary are encouraged to take on trust extraordinary and unfounded claims about the world we live in.

 

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Last Updated on Monday, 01 March 2010 11:21