Despite the substantial scientific and technological development, the social support of conspiracy theories and superstitions is comparatively high. This paper examines the essence of such beliefs and different opinions regarding the optimal response strategies in this context. The recommendations regarding the analytical investigation of such issues will be provided. In general, people should be critical about all information that they receive from different sources. At the same time, they should not restrict themselves in any sphere of investigation and scientific analysis.
Sagan (1987) stresses that some form of skepticism is always present in people’s lives. As the external world is always uncertain, people realize that different possibilities exist. Therefore, they have to be skeptical and analyze various alternative explanations. However, the general spreading of scientific knowledge does not necessarily result in people’s desire to adopt the rational approach in all spheres of their lives. On the contrary, The Independent (2011) observes that conspiracy theories show the unprecedented growth nowadays. It seems that it can be explained be various reasons. Firstly, not all people want to devote all their energy and strength to exploring the external world rationally. The belief in superstitious explanations, aliens, UFOs, etc. does not require creating the sophisticated logical arguments and hypotheses that should be verified. Therefore, this type of theories is open to all people regardless of their intellectual level.
Secondly, some may prefer believing in various superstitious events because they consider them to be more interesting in comparison with the traditional rational explanations. People may be interested in searching for some underlying hidden forces that influence the development of the world even if they do not believe completely in their existence. Finally, some people may use conspiracy theories to realize their plans and self-interests. For example, some of them may sell corresponding books or promote their websites to generate additional revenues. Others may even use such theories to increase their social influence and power.
Moreover, modern technologies can be used differently. On the one hand, they allow to organize the complex scientific research. On the other hand, they allow to present some quasi-evidence in support of some artificial and superstitious claims. The Independent (2011) states that such arguments are often used to promote ideas saying that the reptiles ruled the world or that the well-known moon landings were fabricated. The quasi-scientific support to these claims is very popular among the general public. It seems that the spreading of superstitious beliefs in developed countries is caused by the inability and unwillingness of people to utilize the potential of their logical reasoning to the maximum possible degree. As a result, other individuals use it for their own purposes when promoting various unsupported ideas.
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The negation of reason and rational arguments creates additional problems in the context of proving such quasi-scientific arguments wrong. People supporting superstitious beliefs can neglect rational arguments and advocate the above theories even if the objective facts demonstrate the opposite conclusions. Additional efforts to explain the truth may result only in the growing resistance to such rational arguments. Therefore, it seems that any individual should be free to express any ideas as long as he or she does not initiate violence or aggression against other social members. At the same time, one should be honest and not support any ideas if he or she is certain that they are unscientific and their arguments are fabricated.
However, even the facts and theories that are recognized by the whole scientific community may be challenged by superstitious beliefs. The National Science Foundation (2010) states that people’s assessment of others’ competence is largely based on the closeness of their views. If some experts have deep knowledge but their views are inconsistent with the recipient, it is highly unlikely that the latter will change his or her beliefs. Most probably, he or she will try to challenge the professionalism of the expert. It shows that the vast majority of people are unable to analyze various alternative views objectively. They tend to rely on their initial position and ignore the arguments of others. It explains why the superstitious beliefs may continue to exist in the future.
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At the same time, the need for developing critical thinking skills and considering various arguments and alternatives in an unbiased way does not mean that any new research in the fields that are considered well-explored should be suspended. The adoption of the rational approach should not lead to developing dogmas and scientific stereotypes. Therefore, it seems that all scientific spheres should be explored and investigated. Bolton (2015) states that China has started the project searching for alien life with the help of the largest radio telescope in the world. Although the project seems to be highly untypical and even consistent with some superstitious beliefs in general, its deep investigation shows that it is scientific and aims to explore the likelihood of the intelligent life in space. The telescope is constructed in the way that allows to get a huge amount of information. Even if the hypothesis about the intelligent life is not confirmed, it can be used for other scientific purposes.
The similar strategy is pursued by other developing countries such as Peru. Collyns (2013) states that the National Center of UFO Investigation will be re-opened. The major reason is that the number of the unexplained aerial phenomena has increased dramatically. Therefore, the country should not neglect these issues but participate in the serious investigations. It seems that these examples demonstrate that numerous issues related to aliens, UFOs, and other similar issues can be examined scientifically, i.e., with the help of the proper scientific tools and methods.