A few days ago I asked a question in response to another thread but was asked by the OP to turn it into a new thread so here goes.
My question was what is it that makes ordinary people so suspicious of science yet so quick to embrace magic. I happen to have some friends who unfortunately fall into this category. They are all kind, intelligent people, which is why they are friends, but they seem convinced that scientific research, including the research that has led to most of the home comforts they take for granted, is somehow tainted and part of a vast conspiracy. Yet they have no problem accepting homoeopathy, astrology, Tarot, and in one case, at least, even the existence of angels! Or to be correct, this friend, regrettably a Kiwi, seems to believe in someone who claims to talk to angels, who tell him things like global warming is just a myth so don't worry about it. Apparently he is very popular in the States and has made a ton of money writing books.
I just don't get it. These are not stupid people. I like and respect them and they are perfectly rational and capable about other things. So what causes such people to be so dismissive of the intellectual rigour and painstaking research process of scientific method, yet so quick to embrace the most bizarre superstitions on the word of some charlatan they know only from media like the Internet? What makes the flaky stuff so much easier to believe in than real information garnered from actual facts? I would be very interested to hear what others think about the underlying reasons for this, but disparaging and belittling comments about the thought processes of such people are not really helpful. The fact is, there are an awful lot of people who do think like this, especially in places like America, and I think it is important to understand where it comes from.