The linked article here from Seth Godin is principally about placebos, particularly from the point of view of marketing, product/ service development and improving performance.
Along the way, he skewers the lack of credible, logical sense in beliefs in homeopathy or astrology. This got me remembering how staggered I’ve been at the frequency of conversations with seemingly educated and intelligent people, not just on these two topics, but others as well.
One typical example went as follows:
Person X: Oh, you don’t seem well today.
Me: Yes, I’m having a bit of respiratory trouble. My doctor’s put me on antibiotics, so i expect to be fine in a few days.
Person X: You shouldn’t be taking those. You should go for homeopathy. I can give you the name of an excellent guy.
Me: (with full politeness) I don’t really believe in homeopathy.
Person X: Why ever not?
Me: (still polite 🙂 ) Well, I can’t really see any scientific basis for believing in it.
Person X: No, you should. My cousin was suffering with his chest and he went on homeopathic medicines and he’s been in perfect health ever since.
Me: (walking away as quickly as possible whilst biting my tongue) Hmmmmmm.
What all this reinforces in my mind is that the education system needs to be far less interested in what facts must be put in to learners’ heads (and regurgitated from memory as a filtering, testing mechanism), but rather should be intent on helping learners to develop their ‘thinking muscles’. This should include logic and scientific mental disciplines as well as skills which can be developed and practiced for developing creative ideas; brainstorming, Do Bono techniques etc.
Enhanced thinking skills throughout the population carries enormous potential for progress in society.