The Gullible Species

Human’s are a gullible species. There’s nothing so absurd that we won’t believe in it. Rational people will with one sentence disparage religion as being a superstition and in the next attribute some trait of their personality to their star sign. How credible is a system of patterns drawn in the sky that regulate your personality according to which month you were born in? Credible enough for millions of people to believe it. Not just people who dribble and need hand feeding, functional people who otherwise live rational and functional lives. Many of them hold down jobs.

(Galileo peered into the sky with his telescope and didn’t see a single bull or water maiden. Still  the church locked him up.)

When I was a teenager the adults around me went through a phase where they all believed that cutting lettuce with a metal knife made the lettuce go brown. Suddenly everyone owned a plastic lettuce knife. It all drove me crazy because they could have so easily disproved this nonsense by testing it. Turns out that the only thing that makes lettuce go brown is cutting it, metal knife or plastic. If you want your cut lettuce to stay fresh pop it in water and leave it in the fridge. This I learned while at uni. And they say you learn nothing at uni! Okay, I learned this while working in a cafe while at uni but the cafe job was important so I could afford all the alcohol we consumed and still pay the rent and buy food.

This kind of stuff always drives me crazy (because I’m an aquarius). Here’s what I’ve learned about being an  aquarius:

Special note for Aquarians: With the new Millennium heralding the Dawn of the Age of Aquarius, at this time, ready or not, your sign is regarded as the zodiac’s leader.

(Source, those loonies at Psychic Guild. Credit where credit is due right?)

So I’m a zodiac leader. I was once a highly skilled driver of Zodiac  inshore rescue boats back in my surf life saving days. Turns out that despite letting my skills atrophy for decades I’m still a Zodiac leader. Good on me. Here’s something else I learned about being an acquarius:

You are the trendsetter for the future and because of this high responsibility, many under born your sign will be undergoing at this time, as we approach the Millennium, the pressure of personal change (particularly in your values and what makes you content and happy). 

I think I understood right up to the trendsetter bit and then I got a bit lost. Either this is written in some kind of psychic short-hand or it’s unintelligible nonsense. Hard to believe the star sign people are the kind of semi-literate bumblers who can barely string two intelligible sentences together, not when they have the secrets of the universe laid out before them. I’ll send them a psychic message alerting them to their errors. So much more convenient than email.

(Another leader of the Zodiac. Photo Zodiac website.)

Anyway, as a aquarius I’m especially appalled by the desperate fools who believe stuff when the proof of their gullibility is so close to hand. For instance, you could very easily line up a brakeless fixie and a bike with brakes and compare stopping distances.

(Fixie skidding, because everyone knows the quickest way to stop a bike is via a back wheel with no weight on it.)

SUV owners who insist that one of the reasons they bought their traffic monster was for its safety. Have they never read any of the safety tests? They always trot out the same rubbish about sitting up higher and being able to see more of the traffic. You know, like you can on a bike. We used to be able to see over traffic but now our view is blocked by the ever-growing enormity of the vehicles around us. And all because they’re “safer”.

I can see how SUVs feel safer for the insecure and emasculated people who cocoon themselves within them  but all the safety data is now printed on the internet and freely available. Just goes to show how people are willfully ignorant.

My own theory about SUVs is they’re making up for the insecurity of their owners. I can prove it scientifcally, you know, by anecdote. I got stuck in traffic behind a Range Rover the other day, silently begging him (using my new-found psychic abilities) to ride two wheels up on the curb so we could get through to the right-turn lane before the lights changed. He must have heard (see, proved it works) because he very tentatively drove the car up onto the curb at a 45 degree angle then carefully back into the turning lane. In my Honda Jazz I did same but one-handed and stifling a yawn. SUV owners do with great deliberation and anxiety what real people do single-handed.

(What you own if the inner cringing child overtakes your rational adult side. According to theory…)

People blow themselves up in the name of Allah. We in the west like to believe this is because Muslims are fundamentally more gullible and violent than other people. In fact, for years Muslims were only part of a group of people who blew themselves up in Lebanon. Others included Christians and Communists. Commos are actually anti-religious. In most cases the first thing they do when they over-throw the government is ban religion. According to Robert Pape (who inconveniently provided statistics where clearly anecdote was sufficing to inform our ignorance) the “only thing that has proven to end suicide attacks, in Lebanon and elsewhere, is withdrawal by the occupying force”.

Of course, if you need a solider to send into the front-line (yeah right, read: local market) strapped with explosives you draw on the name of your god to help convince him. Most suicide bombers are young recent converts. In the fervor of their conversion you can convince them of almost anything, even the logic of blowing themselves up and killing innocent people in the name of a just god. Unfortunately it’s a stunningly effective way of combating your enemy.

Recent converts are always the most vulnerable. People who take to bikes inevitably get hurt somehow. I go years without incident but some poor newby will get hit by a car in the first few months. Of course that pails compared to the fervor of the fixie convert who goes out bombing the traffic without brakes. He’s done a few skids under controlled conditions, leaning over the handlebars so there’s almost no weight on the rear tyre, and he’s heard all the dogma about how fixie riding makes you more aware and attuned to the universal forces that control traffic, and now he’s out their flirting with one tonne vehicles driven by people talking on phones and eating burgers.

Of course, if you were truly gullible you could follow Ted Shred and have a go at bombing the hills of San Fran with no brakes on a freewheeling bike.

Ted’s my new inspiration. I can see how that awkward thing he does with his leg is so much more effective than using brake levers and callipers. Once you’ve mastered it you’re so much safer in traffic because you learn not to be dependant on stopping, you discover your true flow and become the true bike Jedi you always knew you were.

Of course, you’ll all be doing it soon because I’m an acquarius and I’m the trendsetter for the future.

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