Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Superstition vs Reason

On the off chance that I ever have opportunity to visit Southeast Asia, I can guarantee you one thing: I will not be flying on Nepal Airlines. Not after seeing how they handle mechanical difficulties on their planes:

Officials at Nepal’s state-run airline have sacrificed two goats to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu sky god, following technical problems with one of its Boeing 757 aircraft, the carrier said Tuesday…

The goats were sacrificed in front of the troublesome aircraft Sunday at Nepal’s only international airport in Kathmandu in accordance with Hindu traditions, an official said.

I’ve had conversations with people with various types of supernatural beliefs in the past where they have said things like, “Well, logic doesn’t apply to everything. Some things operate outside the realm of logic.” They’re right, of course; one’s preference for one food or one type of music over another need not be logical, for instance. But that is not what they mean. If you’ll pardon the play on words, they are being illogical in their application of illogic.

All they really mean when they say this is “please don’t apply logic to the things I don’t want you to apply logic to.” In other words, don’t ask me to think critically about things I wish to believe are true. Few people would actually apply such an argument to something that matters. Would you take your car to a mechanic who does not use logic to diagnose the problem but instead uses tarot cards or a ouija board? Would you go to a doctor who, rather than reasoning in a logical manner to determine the cause of your illness, paws through goat entrails or consults a magic 8-ball?

I would hope the answer is no. And that is precisely why I want no part of an airline that deals with mechanical problems by sacrificing a goat. But is that any different from praying for something? Is it any different from fasting? Or thumbing rosary beads? Superstitions all, and none with a shred of evidence that they actually do anything. Critical thinking, on the other hand, proves itself successful every moment of every day in a million different ways. The choice seems clear to me.


  1. #1 The Pale Scott
    September 7, 2007

    If the car was a GM product, the ouija board might be useful.

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