As you know, I've been an atheist for about 10 years or so, and a skeptic for about 2 or 3 years. While I found it easy to give up religion (in fact it was a relief once I realized I wasn't going to literally be struck by lightning for calling myself an atheist), I found it took longer to realize I needed to be skeptical about other things as well.
The hardest thing for me to give up was superstition. Deep down, I was afraid something bad would happen if I didn't knock on wood when I said certain things, or that I would be jinxed if I said something positive at the wrong time. It was crazy! I finally had to just force myself to do a basic experiment. I made myself not do the superstitious action and waited to see if there were negative consequences. Rinse, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat. Look at the results. Shabam, no ill effects!
I still have the urge to knock on wood though. But I never do anymore. Thank g... Science!
It's funny how ingrained superstitions are. I recently messed up my neck and back. Instead of going to the doctor I tried everything I could think of to fix it myself. It only got worse. I finally went today and will start physical therapy on Monday along with some mild medications.
Why was it so hard to go, though? Why did I wait 3 weeks, in which I was completely miserable? Ok, so I have an irrational fear of doctors and dentists. That's probably a big part of it. But also because I thought I could do it on my own. When I started thinking about turning to woo, I realized I was really desperate and finally went to the doctor. That's progress, isn't it? Three years ago I definitely would have been popping every supplement I could think of and going to a chiropractor, or even an acupuncturist.
Thanks to all the skeptics in my life, I now know about the lack of scientific evidence of those practices. Now, knowing that acupuncture is equivalent to a placebo isn't good enough for me. I'd rather just go straight for real medicine, based on real scientific evidence.
Before you slam me for falling for Big Pharma, I'm not saying that pharmaceutical companies are blameless and loving, devoted to helping people selflessly. They aren't. And I can't explain it as well as Dr. Steven Novella from The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe, but it basically boils down to this: science is self-correcting. People are flawed and have agendas. But science corrects itself over time in many different ways; like peer review, multiple studies, and even government oversight. There are other ways it corrects itself, but I can't think of them and I don't feel well. So please feel free to comment with more information. (I'm still waiting for the medications to start working, so I'm not at the top of my game, sorry)
I know government oversight is also far from perfect. I'm not saying it is. It's an incredibly flawed system. But it does help. Listen to the Skeptic's Guide to have Dr. Novella explain it to you. He understands the system much better than me, since he's a scientist and a neurologist.
Anyway, back to woo and superstitions. I think the best thing you can do for a child is to teach them to Reason and think for themselves, critically. I have this idea that someday I'd like to teach children somehow about critical thinking. But I have no idea how to make that happen. First I'd need to learn more about critical thinking myself, since I'm self taught. If you have any good critical thinking books or videos, let me know. I've published one great video on here, but more would be even better.
I feel like I'm learning about critical thinking coming at it from the side instead of head on. I'd really like to learn it properly, to the point that I can teach others, namely children and parents.
Ok, I'm rambling, sorry. Your ideas and information are most welcome!
Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving, for you Americans. I'm thankful for YOU. :)