Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Let's get together and shoot some fish!

The annual convention of the Australian Skeptics is about to begin  I expect a roomful of very smart and very educated people will spend a lot of time explaining and arguing about how silly it is to believe in crop circles, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, alternative health therapies, aliens in UFOs etc etc. Isn't that what they call "shooting fish in a barrel"? Is this really a wise use of valuable human resources? Or more to the point; what's the point? 

Some people are smart and educated and privileged. Some people are not so bright and haven't had much of an education and have had few opportunities for intellectual growth or for challenging established religious institutions. Poor people don't have the luxury of being able to openly challenge nonsensical religious or mystical beliefs, because they rely on church charities for the basic essentials of life, or they might be in such a situation in the future. Less privileged people often rely on church-owned job placement agencies to find work, or they might volunteer for a church-run enterprise because that is the only volunteering opportunity in their area, or they might work for a church-owned business such as a school or a hospital or a nursing home and wish to keep their job. How nice it would be to be privileged enough to be able to flip the bird at irrational belief systems. How nice it would be to be privileged enough to be an Australian Skeptic. Will the Australian Skeptics be working to remove churches from the provision of basic and essential welfare, education and health services, and replacing these with government-run secular services? I don't see that in the convention program. 

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