Homeopathy kills a child. Now, I'm not surprised that this happened (or happens). What I'm curious about is the motivation for such irrationality. What drives people to seek out bizarre, unproven, "mystical" treatments for maladies that are perfectly treatable with real medicine? Humans have a talent for cognitive dissonance. Even if all evidence points to the contrary, Jenny McCarthy still believes (and that's the proper term) that vaccinations cause autism. Holocaust deniers still believe that Hitler did not, in fact, kill a bunch of Jews. AIDS conspiracy theorists believe that AIDS is a government-created disease meant to thin the population and/or get rid of homosexuals.
But here's my question: why do people believe this nonesense? What is the draw? If I can explain something in perfectly reasonable terms in a way that's clearly observable, why does that not suffice? Why does mysticism have to play a part at all? Look, here's an example. Let's say that one of your friends believes that keeping a dryer sheet in your pocket will keep mosquitoes away. That's an attractive proposition, given that Alaska's mosquitoes are the size of songbirds and darken the skies with their numbers during the height of summer. So you try this. It does not work. You rub the dryer sheet all over your head and neck. Still nothing. You pack several dryer sheets in your pockets. Nada. The mosquitoes don't care. You know what does work? Mosquito repellant, easily purchased as the grocery store for like two dollars. It's a little like suntan lotion, although there's a spray-on kind, too. The point is, repellant works, but the dryer sheet does not.
But your friend still believes that dryer sheets work. Why? When all evidence to the contrary demolishes one's belief, what is the point in retaining that belief? This question applies to a great many subjects including conspiracy theorists, members of the BAND*, homeopaths, religion in general, this guy, and many more.
So I guess my question is this: why do people believe crazy things when they have absolutely no evidence to back those claims up? And why, when contrary evidence is introduced, do they hold on to those beliefs, often with a tightened grip?
*Birds Are Not Dinosaurs