Sunday, January 23, 2011

Superstition business


Needless to say, everybody is free to believe in anything. And this is not only for transcendent issues (life after death, the existence of a superior being who is our creator and who has some expectations on us, the meaning of our existence, etc.) but also for much trivial issues. If you want to believe that the Earth is flat, that we live among aliens, that buying the lottery at one of the most famous vendors increases your chances to be awarded, that being born under the sign of Virgin or Capricorn may influence your character or that carrying a rabbit’s foot will bring you luck (to you, not to the rabbit), you have the right to believe in those things and governments and society should respect this right.
However, when superstition is used to fool people, to get money or to subjugate people, governments should get involved and set some limits. It is rather a complex issue because believes are intimate and difficult to prove to be fake. But there are some obvious cases of deception, blatant lies, which may harm people. A hundred years ago, the magazine The Lancet claimed some laws against swindlers, but we did not get our act together until now: in the United Kingdom it is banned to advertise an amulet promising angel protection because it is not proved, and in Australia it is mandatory that the website of the company Power Balance states that there is no scientific evidence proving that Power Balance wristbands are effective. 
If drugs or food should strictly go through many tests to prove that their composition and effects are true, why not applying the same laws to the rest of products?

Sources:

  1. Delivering Data about astrology: http://www.deliveringdata.com/2010/08/attraction-of-heavenly-bodies-and.html
  2. Issue of The Lancet one hundred years ago: http://press.thelancet.com/editorial1911.pdf
  3. The case of the “seven angels’ amulet”: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/7950087/Amulet-advert-banned-over-claim-of-divine-protection.html
  4. Power Balance website claim: http://www.powerbalance.com/australia/CA
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