Why is it easy for the middle-aged and the elderly to believe in pseudoscience?

24 Feb 2020 08:42

By Fijian Cat

This is the original launch of this number.

If you are a highly educated person who has indeed established a modern scientific spirit, then I believe you may be like me, in addition to the heart-wrenching development of the epidemic, in addition to the heart-wrenching development of the epidemic, it may be that your middle-aged and elderly relatives around you keep whispering in your ears, spread in the family community of all kinds of pseudoscience medical bias, of course, you have been suffering from this in the past. You thought it would always be a good time to popularize the scientific spirit in such a serious epidemic, but Shuanghuanglian broke the illusion completely as promised.

In fact, I wrote this article with extreme despair, because I became more and more aware of the impossibility of solving the problem. But as a humanistic educator, I still want to analyze this "mystery". What makes the middle-aged and the elderly attracted by the same absurd remarks over and over again, and what makes the popularization of scientific spirit in China so difficult? To say one more thing, this has nothing to do with the level of education in the general sense. When I talk about middle and old age, even some senior scholars (regardless of motivation) are included.

I would like to start with a TV series clip I happened to see after dinner today. It is a new version of the Water margin that my father is watching. This paragraph says that 108 will gather Yiliangshan, one of which is the local unearthed stone tablet, which says 108 stars, and Gongsun Sheng has also said a story about Longhu Mountain demon will be accidentally released into the world, so the legitimacy of this gathering is very credible. In fact, what is most convinced of this is Li Kui, who was very dismayed after getting the "scientific explanation" of the planner Gongsun Sheng and Wu Yi (in fact, they did it themselves, not what God intended). How can such a reasonable thing be false? Gongsun Sheng explained that hypothetical myths have already existed in ancient times, for example, when Han Gaozu chopped the serpent, I was just acting in accordance with the usual practice.

Photo source: new version of the Outlaws of the Marsh

If you think of this paragraph as an example of Mr. Gongsun Sheng's teaching, then he is actually telling us that Li Kui's thinking is the "custom" of Chinese thinking since ancient times. If we translate it into a term in modern linguistic philosophy, which, in the words of Whitgenstein, is the "grammar" of the Chinese, it is actually such a sentence:

If that's not the case, how could it be such a coincidence?

In fact, if you recall it a little, you will find that this kind of "dexterity" occupies a central position in the Chinese discourse tradition. The so-called "perfect book", whether in the book, novel, crosstalk or comment on the book, if there is no "coincidence" thing can not go on. Interpersonal communication is also, not relying on production relations and rational consultation, mainly rely on fate. If you go to a domestic wedding, tell how new people from acquaintance to promise, no one told you the basis of free choice, should be restored to a period of fate. Through the acquaintance of two people, coupled with the old age, the family is tight, know each other for more than half a year to get married, but also have to go back to an unwarranted fate. How do I find it? Even if there are similar experiences, even if they have all been abroad, one Britain and one Australia, it is all right. Why are they all abroad at the same time? The red line of fate in the dark straddles half of the earth. If you don't talk about it, the wedding doesn't seem credible.

Of course, I have no intention of blindly derogating from this kind of thinking, because objectively speaking, this kind of Chinese thinking has really brought a lot of inspiration to Westerners, especially western scholars. Mary Douglas, a British anthropologist, has clearly pointed out the help of this kind of "Chinese thinking" in understanding primitive human thinking. In short, the meaning system will be constructed in a kind of analogical thinking, because similarity is the first and most practical basis for classification and understanding that people can grasp, and hieroglyphics is the best example, and this analogical thinking can continue to expand until a considerable scale of "world" is formed. This kind of thinking actually has a huge advantage, that is, it can maintain the stability of the known world very well, and the known world can be used as a sample to absorb external information, thus avoiding the instability and even destruction of the inherent world, which also saves people from the panic brought about by the unknown when absorbing new external experience. In fact, it was still there in the Middle Ages in the West.Like epistemological principles, for example, although astronomers at that time explored the universe, the vast majority of people did not break through the finite barriers of the universe, because it would make astronomy completely unable to find a basis for understanding on the ground. By the 20th century, this kind of Chinese thinking still occupied an important position in the West. In fact, any philosophical theory that leaves a corresponding place for "intuition" is more or less a proponent of this kind of thinking, such as logical positivism and opponents of scientific paradigm theory, which are almost necessary to demonstrate "intuition". To put it simply, the positive significance of this kind of Chinese analogical thinking has in fact been the basis for the West to reflect on its own scientism. These scholars realize that human reason needs a stable process of development in any case, no matter how inclined we are to the rapid change of the norms of the times, but for something, we will still regard stability as its value. Like morality, maybe IWe have completely different principles, but once they do, they should be stable, and we intuitively grasp this stability in the similarity between people. Although the above is completely the topic of western modern philosophy, but many values for ordinary Chinese people will not feel strange, at the same time, this is also a common perspective of domestic scholars anti-western modern scientism thinking.

Mary Douglas (Mary Douglas), one of the most famous anthropologists in the world.

So what exactly is the problem?

Very simply, when the foundation becomes the basis or even the goal, there will be a so-called "inversion" situation. As mentioned earlier, this thinking is valued because it provides a more stable basis for cognitive development, rather than for continuously pouring it harder. Wittgenstein once wrote a mysterious passage, that is, I climbed up with a ladder, and the ladder was about to be removed and not left there. In fact, what he wants to express is that the development of cognition will change or even destroy his own foundation. Later, he used a more gentle and appropriate metaphor, presumably saying that the riverbed determines how the river flows, but the riverbed is also changed by the scour of the river, a process that is ideologically imperceptible. In any case, the known world is to evolve to the unknown world, the things on the earth to the universe, the body to the cellular nucleic acid, but every step needs to be realistic and reasonable.To solve it.

On the contrary, the way Chinese people deal with their traditional thinking is to regard it as both the foundation and the goal, and this duality is what we usually call indulgence. If you analyze the medical explanation that the middle-aged and the elderly are willing to believe, they will find that these scams use a lot of analogical thinking. It guides you to imagine, for example, that a certain acupoint is like a switch, and as soon as you press, your meridians are electrified like a circuit, and you operate; for example, the concept of clearing away heat guides you to imagine that your affected place is like a fire, and you let it go out (either put it out, extinguish or leave ashes in your body), and burn it out. The nostrils of sesame oil can stop the droplets, because you must have touched the oil, and the lampblack machine may have been clogged with oil, so it must have been stopped. To put it simply, because such words are very good and consistent with daily experience, it is only naturally accepted by Chinese people with Chinese thinking.In addition, including drinking plenty of hot water, bitter medicine, pulling out the anger in the body, and so on, are also very targeted to the senses, and is achieved in a way of negative compensation: whether drinking hot water, eating traditional Chinese medicine or cupping, are not good entrance and physical abuse, but it is precisely because of this negative sensory experience that people believe that this can get compensation for the curative effect. In a word, as long as we can find the basis of similarity in the senses, the Chinese people will take the formation of perceptual cognition as the final basis for the achievement of cognition, rather than reason, although it is completely impossible to ask. In fact, it is a huge discourse advantage here, because it has a direct nature, discourse can reach the affected place, so although it is absurd, in fact, in many middle-aged and elderly people forward these partial side of the moment, when he said the partial side of the moment, his illness has been symbolically cured. It is not too much to say that this information is a kind of "discourse opium"..

These are the discourse advantages that modern medicine, especially western medicine, does not have. Modern medicine has penetrated into cells, nucleic acids and nervous system. It is using a completely "inapproachable" concept to describe your own body that you come into contact with every day. For Chinese who insist on another kind of thinking, it is already a great load for analogical thinking to imagine that their body is composed of two eyes, three internal organs, six internal organs and complex meridians, but it is also much easier than imagining that they are a collection of nucleic acids and cells. But obviously the biggest problem with this pattern of understanding of your body is that you have to think of yourself as a robot, thinking of blood vessels as wires, and thinking of yourself as lampblack machines. Therefore, in this mode of thinking and certainty, the biggest problem that may be exposed is that, in order to pursue a stable understanding, the believer can not regard himself as a human being, and they can not understand that "man is a human being" is actually a comprehensive proposition.

Of course, at this point, it is clear that the problem is not just about medicine. Although the elderly who trust drug dealers, middle-aged people who are happy to forward pseudoscience in their families, people of all ages who snuck up Shuanghuanglian these two days seem so crazy, but in fact their yearning for stability and their pursuit are unified from inside to outside. This is why young people with scientific spirit will find that the contradiction between you and the relatives around you is not limited to medical treatment, but must also involve political positions and understanding of the family community, marriage and childbearing, and will reprimand you for not experiencing their hard work for the stability of their family and life, which they see as a basis for their lack of scientific spirit. Therefore, science popularization alone can never change this problem, the question is whether we realize in our education that indoctrination with a scientific "knowledge" can solve the fundamental problem. Although philosophers such as Foucault are interested in "knowledge-based" customers.Conceptual analysis (directly related literature such as the birth of clinical medicine) is understood by most people as critical, but it can also be understood as a general methodology: the effective application of a technology is indeed greatly dependent on the construction of "surface discourse". It is not only a problem of medicine itself, but also a problem of humanities.

As for why humanities workers have not changed this situation for so many years? Because of all the issues mentioned above, there are also disputes among humanities scholars. From this point of view, this paper is only a trivial family, and in fact, the strengthening of this kind of Chinese thinking is more dominant in the humanities in recent years. If what is happening right now has made us desperate to change the perception of relatives, then perhaps we can still place our trust in people with higher education and higher education.?