Monday, June 14, 2010

Superstition by Robert L. Park

Has the belief in superstition become commonplace in today's world? Do we as human beings trust superstitious convictions so much that actual science is becoming all too hazy? In the novel Superstition, Robert L. Park goes in depth to find answers to these questions and why our cultures go on to accept superstitions beliefs all too well. His brutal honesty and awareness pulls you in as a reader and has you questioning yourself. His scientific perspectives give you a harsh reality check and have you wondering how any intelligent person in today's world would believe anything other than pure science since there's been immense research and evidence to back it all up.

In each chapter, we are tested and shown how often people mistake pseudoscience for science. Park discusses the integration of physicists and their religious sides while comparing peoples' conviction of the Bible as either literal or metaphorical. He talks about the foundation of intelligent design versus evolution and its impact on our education systems. He questions the existence of souls and heaven while taking on supernatural beliefs such as New Age spiritualism and OBEs. He statistically combats the effectiveness of prayer and discusses the ever popular stem cell research debate as to when a zygote actually becomes a human life. These issues and more set the stage for a controversial, yet insightful read.

My favorite part of this book was Park's discussion on Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and the discovery of a 160,000 year old human skull in 2003 providing evidence that Homo sapiens came from Africa. Here, he discusses the lactose tolerance of East Africans and Northern Europeans and how this was not part of the original design of Homo sapiens. He then raises the common question of those who deny evolution: if evolution is real, why aren't we evolving? Park explains that we are, in fact, evolving. He says that evolution tends to happen rapidly among isolated populations that adapt to specified local environments, but there really aren't any isolated populations left. Evolution is greatly waned by gene mixing among populations living in separate environments, and this is exactly how humans reproduce today.

Superstition relates to our course book in a number of ways. In chapter 2, bogus therapies are discussed and we look into why people think certain medications work when in reality they are ineffective. Park talks about the homeopathic flu medication oscillococcinum and how naive people are by not knowing that these medications are proven effective or not. He believes homeopathy is a crock and people should be smarter than to believe something not proven to be safe or effective.

I absolutely loved reading this book and would recommend it to people like me who agree with Park’s point of view. I always felt the same way Park feels in his novel and his book really helped give me a better insight on many aspects of superstitious phenomena. I would also suggest this book to jaded religious people so they can see the other, scientifically proven, side of superstition. <----Evolution described

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