Re: ...aluminum foil on the walls...

Spike Jones (
Wed, 15 Sep 1999 22:57:58 -0700

> Chris Watkins wrote: on TV a while back commemorating the
> thirtieth anniversary of the moon landings, culminating in a rather odd
> discussion panel in the early hours. The panel consisted of people
> convinced, to various degrees, that the moon landings were faked.

In my childhood I recall hearing a minister assuring his flock that the moon landing would be a mysterious failure because god would never let man's sin be spread to another planet (?). When the landing was successful, I wondered what would be said. The minister himself never mentioned the incident, but a small group of believers suggested at that time the landing must be bogus.

This thread brings up an interesting observation however. In the case of the programmer putting foil on the walls, and other examples, there are people that are highly advanced in certain technologies that hold to the silliest superstitions.

We had a thread about a year ago regarding tetradotoxin, the poison distilled from tree frogs by Haitian witchdoctors. Dr. Wade Davis of Harvard eventually bribed one of the locals out of the secret, but the witch doctor considered the chemical as only a part, perhaps only a minor part, of the zombie-making spell. The witchdoctor explained how certain magic words must be chanted, along with introducing the poison, in order to make a zombie. He observed that Dr. Davis was uninterested in learning the words, and insisted the poison would not work without them. The witchdoctor was more advanced technologically in making that particular poison than was his Harvard counterpart.

The programmer with the foiled walls may have had some superstition, perhaps instilled in his childhood before he had developed and memetic immunity, that led to his actions, yet one must grant he was technically advanced. Modern technologists and even many modern scientists carry superstitious religious memes.

What I find the most disturbing of all is that superstition does not seem to be dissipating nearly as quickly as I would have expected with the advance of science and technology. Superstition seems to be a stubbornly persistent aspect of human nature, one that will be carried into the next century.

dammit. {8-[