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Jul 4, 05 - 10:29 PM
Mediaeval Superstition

I suppose there are places where it is easier to forecast the weather than it is in Britain. If one says tomorrow will be sunny in Darwin, Australia or Salisbury, Rhodesia, one probably has a reasonable chance of being right. In Britain, however, the weather remains resistant to prediction, although apparently serious-looking boffins with estuary vowels make solemn prophecies on the matter to the yeeketariat every night.

What is astonishing is the extent to which the inhabitants of the yeek-fold believe these prophecies. Over and over again one hears them say, with every sign of conviction, "it will rain tomorrow", or "it will be sunny this weekend". The accuracy of these prophecies is, if anything rather less than what could be achieved by tossing coins, but this never seems to dent the touching faith with which such pronouncements are dutifully repeated.

It is common to marvel at the way mediaeval people believed that, say, walking round a church backwards with a piece of wool in one's mouth would cure the gout. Surely simple observation of the fact that it didn't cure the gout must have dispelled the belief. They must have been completely childish in their credulity; so goes the argument.

And yet these same people believe the weather forecasts, regardless of how often they are wrong. I asked some one why, and she suggested "because they are scientific". And one can see the point. I did see one of these weather forecasts once; and despite my ingrained belief that no one who cannot speak the Queen's English can know anything, I was almost convinced. The language was so - well - scientific. It was like a solemn sort of ritual.

And of course scientism is the belief-system of the modern Tellurian. We believe what our belief-systems tell us to believe. That is the crux of the matter. We do not believe what we see. We believe what fits in with our credal structure; and for the Tellurian that credal structure centres round the thing she calls "science". A belief like that is fundamental; while seeing it rain when one's priests have said it will be sunny is merely incidental.

So next time you wonder how the Jehovah's Witnesses can believe the world will end on a certain date, when the worlds-end date has been changed a dozen times as each previous prediction turned out wrong, spare a thought for the chap on the 'bus who says "Thursday is going to be sunny". They are both in the same boat.