Thursday, January 06, 2011

Mexicans Express Belief In Spirits, Not Science

A new poll of Mexicans that is similar to the one the National Science Foundation regularly conducts on Americans reveals that Mexicans tend to believe more in spirits and other supernatural sources.

The study, compiled annually by the National Council on Science and Technology and the National Institute of Statistics and Geography, indicates that a large percentage of Mexicans give credence to homeopathy, acupuncture, spiritual cleansing, lucky numbers, and ESP. Approximately 38% also believe that "space vehicles from other civilizations" visit Earth.

To be sure, Mexicans are aware that their faith in otherworldly forces may be a problem. About 83.6% agreed with the statement, "We believe too much in faith and too little in science." Most think the country needs more scientists.

For some reason, I find those two view to be rather self-contradictory. You know you put too much believe in such faith, yet you continue to do so? And people criticize me when I tell them that human behavior are often irrational?

According to the Mexican poll, scientists are both feared and respected, perhaps not unlike the Aztec priests of old. In the survey, 57% of Mexicans interviewed agreed that "due to their knowledge, scientific researchers have power which makes them dangerous."

Yet, all the other charlatans that these people have blind faith on are not dangerous?



sudheer s. said...

"We believe too much in faith and too little in science."- well, I believe this statement is true for many others ,not only mexicans.People of many countries believe that and will continue to believe all that that has been mentioned in the report.I dont know why but it is true.May be these things arent crap really.accupuncture has been practised for years in China and is being practised still now .In fact its becoming popular now in many countries..People say its effective.But if it is scientific ....nobody can really say that.If we really go by the definition that great men have provided over the years for science ,then it is not science .But if we ask people who practise and those who believe in it,it is science.I wonder what science is ??(just joking :))But the fact that the people surveyed in this report are afraid of scientists is really funny

El Charro said...

I am mexican and studied my undergrad in physics there. Now I am in the US doing my PhD and I am not surprised by the results of the poll.

If in the US (that has had huge technological and scientific advances for many decade) there is still people who put religion beliefs ahead of science, what did people expect from a country that has consistently underfunded scientific research and development in both the public and private sectors? I might even be surprised that not more mexicans believe that. Add to that the fact that a lot of people are poor and can't afford real medicine but can actually pay the few pesos that it takes to go to one of these magical healers and you have the perfect conditions for that to proliferate.

Even though in Mexico the church is, by law, not allowed to mingle in politics it is clear that for many years in has had an effect. This is going to sound ridiculous, but having the drug problems in Mexico might not be all bad. Lately the church has made statements that invite the general population to pray and forgive the people involved in the drug trade. That has happened for many years but with the relatively recent escalade of violence and crime more and more people are looking at the church differently because of those statements "defending" the criminals. I am not saying it will fix all the negative influence that the religion has in the society, but I think it might mitigate it. Of course, it would be better if we could fix that without the drug war problems. Just trying to see a positive through that whole mess.

In the meantime though, Mexico has much bigger problems than religious beliefs vs. scientific knowledge. Hard to say that as a physicists but it is true.