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February 26, 2004

Superstition

The BBC reports that four Nigerian states are refusing to take part in a mass immunization drive against polio because "some Muslim clerics say the vaccine is a western plot to make women infertile."

Although "Muslim clerics" are reportedly at the root of this story, I don't think that it is at all fair to blame the refusal of polio vaccine on religion. The same sort of thing seems to thrive over here too.

Anyway, you can't deny that this fellow has a point:

"It is a lesser of two evils to sacrifice two, three, four, five, even 10 children (to polio) than allow hundreds of thousands or possibly millions of girl-children likely to be rendered infertile," Kano state Governor Ibrahim Shekarau told the AP news agency.

At least it beats magic, penis-snatching, Jews.

Addendum from Razib: This site (non-English speaking and a google cache) reports that 35% of Italians believe in the "evil eye" (control-f "evil eye"). Here is a compilation of surveys from the United States on the "paranormal." From an EU opinion survey (control-f "astrology," it's a PDF):


Astrology

With or without explanation, about a quarter of respondents think that astrology is either "very scientific" or "not at all" scientific. The other half of the respondents attribute scores somewhere in between (2, 3 or 4 points) (figure 2.2).

In Greece/Spain and Portugal, astrology is seen as rather scientific. Between 30 per cent and 40 percent of the respondents give astrology the highest possible score of 5 - "very scientific" On the other hand, in Italy Germany (East) and the United Kingdom, between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of respondents think astrology is "not at all" scientific.

Scepticism as to the scientific nature of astrology is strong expressed among respondents with a high level of education, people with a higher income, people who consider themselves as politically left and people who rank high on the European social grade. The scientific nature of astrology receives more credit from people who finished their education by the age of 15 years, people with a low income, opinion followers, people in the political centre, as well as on the lower grades of the European social grades.

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Please note that astrology was ranked as more scientific than either economics or history (just below psychology). Also, I tried to transcribe exactly, the weird grammar, etc. isn't my fault.

Posted by Thrasymachus at 11:54 AM