Dear 2,303 Adult Americans surveyed in poll mentioned in the prologue of that book,
Witches exist. It is not a matter of belief. Wicca/witchcraft is a real, official religion, and while whether or not their brand of magic actually works is up for debate, there are many practicing witches alive and well around the world today. A good deal more than 23% of you should "believe" in them.
Then there are the 45% of you who believe in evolution, and the 40% who believe in creationism. Exactly what do the other 15% of you believe? It's perfectly possible to believe in both, but that would result in a percentage over 100.
Sincerely, OliviaAs much as I'm in favor of tolerance and respect for other people's views, there are some things that are simply ridiculous. When it comes to things like God and Heaven and souls and other things that literally cannot be concretely proven one way or the other, that's fine. I really will respect what you think. However, certain details that some people hold to be true don't make any sense at all.
And I've always felt bad about thinking less of those people. Who am I to judge them, after all? Who am I to say what they should/shouldn't believe? They undoubtedly think I'm as crazy as I think them.
The prologue of The Believing Brain says this on the matter: "Although there is no Archimedean point outside of ourselves from which we can view the Truth about Reality, science is the best tool ever devised for fashioning provisional truths about conditional realities. Thus, belief-dependent realism is not epistemological relativism where all truths are equal and everyone's reality deserves respect...Even though the Ptolemaic earth-centered system can render observations equally well as the Copernican sun-centered system (at least in the time of Copernicus anyway), no one today holds that these models are equal because we know from additional lines of evidence that heliocentrism more closely matches reality than geocentrism, even if we cannot declare this to be an Absolute Truth about Reality."
So while we can't prove ourselves right beyond any shadow of a doubt, we can prove other people wrong when trying to figure out the truth of ultimate reality. "This is less wrong than that, therefore we're going to go with this until we find something more right." Go with one thing until you find something that makes more sense or works better, and then move on.
I like this book. There are 16 chapters, including the prologue and epilogue. I promise to keep it down to one post per chapter--if that.