From Abracadabra to Zombies
reader comments: pseudoscience
2 Feb 1997
Congratulations and thank you for posting such a fine document on the web. I am 7-12 math/science teacher in a very small town in the very far north of Manitoba [Canada] In the 3 years that I have been employed here, I have seen scores of students who accept mass media pseudoscience as fact.
Even sadder, many of my aboriginal students (and their families) still seek medical advice and treatment from traditional "healers". These Shaman (or should I say Sharletans?) travel from remote community to remote community preaching their traditional healing methods. They encourage their patients to stop seeing local doctors and hospitals ("white" medicine) and they command a high level of respect the leaders of the aboriginal community. As you can imagine, their services aren't free. These snake-oil hucksters annoy me because:
-they prey on the mistrust and disdain that many in the aboriginal community already have for "whitey". They are widening the gulf between our cultures.
-they perpetuate superstition and misinformed attitudes towards science and medicine (like Christian Scientists, they deny that diseases are caused by germs!)
-they take money from families on social assistance, many of whom send their kids to school hungry.
The "white" community aren't always helpful either, when it comes to doing my job (teaching science). I am constantly pressured by fundamentalists from the local Protestant church to include "creationism" in my senior high biology program. The first couple of times this happened, my responses were somewhat glib, "only if I can come to your church next Sunday and give a lecture on Darwin." But now, I respond with a simple no - creationism is not science, and remind them that this is a public (not private) school. I am very glad that none of these people have succeeded in being elected to our school board.
Your website is a great service to teachers who, like me, are fighting against the tides of irrationality.