Measured Against Reality

Monday, September 17, 2007

Religion, imaginary elves, and the Philippino judiciary

Via Denialism Blog I find this story about a judge in the Philippines who has three imaginary elf friends, and was fired for it. The entire thing is pretty funny (the people love him, and he's using his newfound influence with the media to try to get his job back), but this quote is simply the best:

Mr. Floro says he never consulted the invisible elves over judicial decisions and the fact that he puts faith in them should make no difference to his career. "It shouldn't matter what I believe in, whether it's Jesus, Muhammad, or Luis, Armand and Angel," he says in an interview.

That's exactly what I thought when I read the article. How is this any worse than a judge who consults Jesus about his decisions, and we know that they exist? I don't think it is at all, the only difference is that there's only one person who believes in the trinity of elves, and there are two billion who believe in the trinity of Christ. I'm not saying he should get his job back, I'm absolutely indifferent about what happens to him, but he doesn't seem any more crazy to me than any other religious believer. Of course he absolutely could be, but we don't know that he is for sure.

What's a little bit unsettling is how the public has rallied around him. Get a load of this:

The day after Mr. Floro's first appearance on television last year, hundreds of people turned up at his house in a dusty Manila suburb hoping he could use his supernatural powers to heal their illnesses. Now Mr. Floro, who travels by bus, is regularly recognized on the street.

I looked into it, and the Philippines has a similar education system to the US. Something must be going wrong if people think that a man who sees elves can cure them. I seriously wonder why people always think that they can be healed by magic, perhaps it's because all healing seems to be magic (think about how antibiotics quickly defeat infections, without any knowledge it seems like magic). Still, if this is the supernatural instinct that skeptics are fighting against, then we have one hell of a fight against us. Education is the key to defeating superstition, but it doesn't always work. People are believing machines, and I doubt we'll ever eradicate belief in stupid things.

But if you find belief in stupid things funny, please read the whole article. It includes one of the elves purging the corrupt judiciary. It's good stuff.

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