What is Modern Superstition?

As the power of organized religion waned in the eighteenth and nineteenth century Europe, seekers of spirituality found a ready-made alternative to it in the Eastern theosophy. The integration of matter with spirit was particularly appealing to those who were drawn to the emerging power and universality of science and disappointed by the anti-material teachings of the traditional religions. 1 The philosophy of the Far East became more and more mainstream, so that by the end of the nineteenth century many intellectuals, including some great physicists,  were exposed to – and became admirers of – that philosophy. Although the physics of these physicists was not – could not be – affected by their philosophical inclinations, their Eastern mystical philosophy was dramatically tainted by the new discoveries in physics.

By publicizing their anti-scientific philosophy,  scientists do the deadliest damage to the edifice of science and the scientific literacy of the public, because their attack is coming from within. Think about it: the slightest attack on the Democratic Party by Obama does a thousand times more damage to that Party than millions of harsh attacks by Rush Limbaugh.

It is unfortunate that outrageous claptrap such as what you’ll read in the following have gone mostly unchallenged by the scientific community, leading even the intellectual segment of the population to believe in them.  One of the missions of this site is to expose the nonsense that is being sold as “scientific,” especially when it comes from scientists and other professionals.


In one of his more than thirty appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Gary Zukav, the best selling author who speciously applies the laws of physics to the conduct of the soul, comforts a couple who has lost a baby. Except for the round table and the holding of hands, the show has all the appearances of a se’ance with Zukav as the medium and Oprah as his assistant; and when Oprah, in response to the father’s request to contact his son’s soul, declares that everybody in the room feels the presence of the soul, and the camera zooms in on a few women wiping away tears, the spiritual authority of the author is sealed, the sale of hundreds of thousands of his books guaranteed, and the indoctrination of their readers’ minds with superstition accomplished.

  1.   At the same time that the western religions were teaching abstinence and warned against sexual desires, some Eastern theosophies taught to worship gigantic statues of phalluses!

3 thoughts on “What is Modern Superstition?”

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  2. Wolfram is clearly within his right of artistic freedom, especially since most of the illustrations in his book are patterns of points on a square grid — which before the invention of computers was known as weaving, one of the world’s most popular forms of art.

    Capra is clearly within his right of religious and philosophical freedom.

    Zakov is violating principles of society by promoting false medicine. You already claimed that medicine is not science, so you shouldn’t consider him a problem to scientists. It’s up to the health profession to speak out against him.

    Laughlin is promoting Constructivism, which is an attack on all aspects of modern society, not just science. His ilk is too pervasive and dangerous to be covered in that little vignette. If you’re worried about Constructivists, you should have a separate section for castigating just them.

    Meanwhile, the claims that are actually Modern Superstitions; such as string theory, information theory, and the multiverse; get no mention at all.

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