Itty Bitty Victory
Ah, it’s so satisfying to speak to a reasonable person about their unreasonable belief and not only make them see that their belief is foolish, but make them laugh as well.
I was really on my game today. Actually, I wasn’t. I was having a crappy morning and was feeling really, to use a fun Australian word, stroppy.
When a customer entered and began looking through the gold and silver charms (I work in a jewellery store, those of you not in the know) for ‘zodiac charms.’ Fortunately, the other sales girl served her and the woman was spared my subtle disdain for her request. We don’t have any zodiac charms, by the way. After the customer left empty handed, I said snidely to my co-worker, “I guess we don’t cater to that particular brand of superstition.” To which she, a reasonable, free-thinking girl, replied, “I don’t know, I kind of believe in that stuff. Everything I’ve ever read tells me that I’m definitely a textbook [insert zodiac sign here]”
I took a deep breath and began my little rant. First, I said I used to believe in it as well, so I understand, but that I’d found reasons that made the whole thing completely ridiculous to me. Then I said that while these had changed how I saw it, there was no reason I thought that they needed to change how she saw it and she could take or leave it. But then I said why I thought it was a bit silly. I said it all with a sense of humour and without preaching.
I stayed away from using any of the usual “oh, those statements are so general they apply to anyone” which is, itself a terrible argument unless you first explain confirmation bias and I remember how specific I thought they were when I believed. I stuck to statistical studies and explained how tests of accuracy always failed. I then explained that the whole thing is based on the idea that the Earth is the centre of the universe and that the stars are all a fixed distance away, which we all know is incorrect. Then I blew it all away by explaining that the one thing that held my belief the longest, I ended up disproving myself.
At the end, she laughed and then said with a smile, “Yeah, when you put it that way, I guess it is a bit silly.” To which I responded, “It can still be fun to read about it, don’t let me take that away from you if you still think it’s fun, but for me, it’s just kind of pointless. I’d rather read about actual psychology and astronomy rather than some doddering old ancestor of the two.” She laughed again at this.
“After all, it’s not like it really harms anyone. It’s not like ear-candling.”
She looked puzzled,”Ear candling? What on Earth is that?”
“Oh boy,” I laughed, “don’t get me started…”