Think woo-woo thinking has left the mainstream? Think again.

7 Jun

by Todd Torkelson

Last week I attended what appeared to be a garden variety singles event.  A pot luck and game night down in Bloomington, Minnesota in which thirty and forty somethings gathered to meet, possibly court and swap stories about dating in the trenches.  After a stimulating game of Balderdash the evening moved on to an informal group chat.  I was wearing my latest skeptic wear which had the five ESP research cards with the bold caption “Teach the Controversy” beneath. Watch the Bill Murray lab scene during the first few minutes of Ghostbusters and you’ll see what I’m referring to.  One of the women pointed to my shirt and asked what exactly it was referencing.  I proceeded to tell her about the Minnesota Skeptics meetup group and my function as co-host of our monthly newbie nights which informs newcomers about skepticism and welcomes them to our ranks.

A guy with the social skills of a baboon rolled his eyes and told me he had several questions for me.  He quickly rattled off a litany of standard questions all skeptics are sick hearing.  “Do you believe in ghosts? . . . Do you believe in aliens? . . . Do you believe in UFOs?”  When it came to that last one I mentioned all the phony crop circles.  He explained that the first crop circles were real because there were radioactive traces found at their bases plus there was no way that a 2×4 block of wood could have crushed the wheat stalks (apparently he has a degree in crop crushing techniques).  It angered him that all the fake crop circles got mixed in with the real ones making legitimate crop circle research look bad.

I thought I’d heard it all until a woman that I’ll call Sandy chimed in.  Her squeaky Mini-Mouse voice informed us of her psychic gifts of  her ability to draw ghosts to her and read the auras of living things.  It’s hard for her to suppress her powers in the workplace but she manages as she is a Masters degree level psychologist who treats adults with severe dissociative disorders.  It’s not easy but she manages by tuning out the erratic auras that schizophrenics and autistic patients give off.  If you had a loved one with special needs, would you want someone like this in charge of treatment?  I politely challenged her to look at the hard scientific evidence for her beliefs and invited her to the newbie nights we put on.  So far she hasn’t shown up yet.  What a shocker.

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