Birthers believe that Obama wasn’t born in the US, Creationists believe in a divine story of why humans walk the Earth, conspiracy theorists conspire, psuedoscientific claims abound, alien watchers scope the skies, and people spend fortunes on psychic chat lines. Why do we want to believe so badly, that we ignore the convincing evidence to the contrary? Sure, this is a controversial topic, and my list could be a top 500 instead of a top 5, but here we go…
Top things we believe, despite mountains of data disproving them:
1. Psychics, Aura readers, Reiki practitioners and the like. The most troubling aspect of these beliefs is the money they cost. All these treatments are expensive (as are any “medical” treatments that may accompany them – see #5 below), and despite centuries trying to prove that the supernatural is super natural, there is not an inch of data to support it. The most outrageous claim? Psychic water, of course. One interesting aspect of these examples is the phenomenon where people cling even tighter to beliefs when they are challenged, or when their doubts are raised.
2. Where are we in the solar system? As the film “A Private Universe” uniquely displays, many intelligent children can’t wrap their minds around the solar system, how seasons occur, and what causes an eclipse. Is it a failure of the educational system? A short-circuit in our cognition? Or is it exemplary of our willingness to believe what is comfortable and easy, instead of what is real?