I listened to a brilliant Ted Talk today called Why We Should Trust Scientists by Naomi Oreskes. It goes through very thoroughly and logically, the processes by which scientists arrive at their conclusions and the “organised scepticism” with which fellow scientists greet new theories. It even taught me something I didn’t know about Climate Change – that until CO2 was included in the modelling for what has happened up to now, the modelling didn’t work. That is why scientists are so convinced that human-emitted CO2 is a major contributing factor to Global Warming.
And then I listened to the last few episodes I hadn’t yet listened to of “The Signal”. I believe it’s broadcast every day so I’m not totally bereft. Anyway, in yesterday’s episode they were talking about healing crystals. Not so much the qualities of the crystals and their capacity to heal, but more about the question of how much retailers know about the origins of the crystals and whether they were ethically mined. They interviewed a woman who had looked into the question in some depth and discovered that it’s a tangled web and it’s pretty hard to know where any specific stone came from, let alone who mined it. There is quite a long chain of people between the mine and the retailer and they’re not all willing to be transparent. And if you are lucky enough to get back to a mine, it sounds like for every ethical mining company there are plenty of dubious operations whose main focus is, say, gold or diamonds, but they fish out the other semi-precious stuff they find and sell it off on the side. Also, in some countries, it’s hard to know whether child-labour has been used.
Ange and Stephen interviewed one particular retailer (in the US). He claimed that he was very careful about the origins of his stones. After all, as he said, how can you get the best healing from a stone which has been ascertained in dishonest or unpleasant circumstances? He claimed that his store had contacts who had direct interaction with the mine owners.
A minute later, Ange requested that they get to see the most valuable, most amazing crystal available in the shop. The man went into a different room and returned with three crystals, two of which he put into Ange’s hands, and one of which he gave to Stephen. He said, in an awed voice, that the crystal Stephen held was from Mars and was worth $10,000. The two that Ange held were from the moon and were worth about $1500 each.
I scoffed out loud as I scrubbed our newly cleaned windows with newspaper. As far as I was concerned, this earnest young man had just proved himself either a fool or a con man. I was somewhat frustrated that Ange and Stephen didn’t call him on it because, to me, this claim undermined (pardon the pun) the validity of everything he had previously said.
For one thing, there have been no sample and return missions to Mars at this stage.
And secondly, check out this article that I just found about moon rocks for sale at Sotheby’s – up around a million dollars for a tiny pebble. That shit is too rare for Mr Crystal Shop’s prices.
So what’s my point? My point is, people believe whatever the hell they feel like. They choose whether to believe in the moon landing. They choose whether to accept climate change. And yet, presumably, this man will find a gullible buyer on the street for a $10,000 piece of rock which purports to come from Mars. No wonder a man like L. Ron Hubbard can win a bet by starting a crazy religion.
I don’t care if people believe that crystals have healing powers. That’s their life and it doesn’t much effect anybody else. But when they (including people in power) choose not to engage with scientific evidence and reasoning to the detriment of the whole planet, that is just plain irresponsible.