Feb. 15th, 2010

thermalsatsuma: (Default)
Cold, drizzly and foggy again. Can we just fast forward to spring and get the winter over with, please?

Strange dreams again, although that may be partly due to my current obsession with Echo Bazaar where my ambition to track down the greatest treasures of Fallen London has led me down the route of deliberately triggering my own insanity in order to find a piece of the puzzle. Good, if rather strange, fun.

A bit of irritation at work where a project manager sent our internal list of issues and estimated development times out to a client on Friday evening without checking with us first. To compound the problem, she was off on holiday today as well. The development times do not include any time for QA testing or consultancy, which will give a rather misleading estimate of how quickly we will be able to get things done.

Jan and I have been pondering the idea of magical thinking recently, and we were discussing following the homeopathy demo the other week. It seems that humans (and other animals too) have a propensity for developing patterns of behaviour and then ascribing an outcome to how well the pattern was followed. In some ways, this is a good survival trait - if you always plant your crops when the sun rises in a particular place in the sky then they will do better than planting them at any other time of year. However, when you start adding bits on with no idea of whether they are having an effect then it is but a short leap to thinking that using the right invocation to a particular god or sacrificing the occasional virgin is what makes the wheat grow, rather than the plain old hard work of tilling the fields.

This could explain why people seem to think that seeing a man in a white coat preparing a potion by diluting something in water and banging it on a mat of horse hair is replicating the actual work of identifying an active ingredient, testing it and carefully noting the results until you find something that works reliably. In the words of Paul Daniels, now *that's* magic.

If somebody has a belief (no matter how 'deeply held' it may be), then why shouldn't it be held up to the same scrutiny and testing that has gone into the bottle of aspirin on the shelf that you reach for when you have a headache? Where is the benefit in just accepting things on faith rather than questioning them, and why does this make people so uncomfortable?

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thermalsatsuma

September 2010

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