Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pseudoscience "Get out jail free!" card

Pseudoscience has often been linked at the hip with religion. But people are creative! That's really what pseudoscience is, creative thinking without the heavy weight of facts acting against you. Sort of like ignoring your cement overshoes pulling you into the inky ocean depths as you ignore the existence of organized crime.

Today I read an article about a cult family who starved an 18 month old child to death for not saying 'amen' at meals. That word, amen, has a lot od pseudoscientific power, or at least we assume so. Certainly not saying it caused the parents to go insane. It is a tragedy and not funny. Death is death and a pointless death of a child is the worst. But here comes the legal pseudoscience:

The mother pleaded guilty on the condition that all charges be dropped if her child was resurrected...

She didn't just make that up. No, the cult thought it through a long time before the police arrived. They had packed the dead child into a suitcase with some moth balls to await the blessed moment. They even traveled with the luggage, but ultimately stored the luggage with a friend, met at a dollar store, in his backyard shed. 

Just to clear the air, according to the cult leader, Queen Antoinette (no kidding and she still has her head), the resurrection has not yet taken place because the cult members have not reached a level of belief sufficient to trigger the event. A hallmark of religious pseudoscience is that you need to really believe. Miracles don't happen on their own.

That's great pseudoscience and the best legal defense all thrown into a blender with a few herbs and spices. Pure genius! But it gets better as pseudoscience of psychology on the side of the law is biting at religion's heels.

The prosecutors  say that this family can not be considered criminally insane. They do not suffer from any delusion or mental disability, they are simply people of faith. They did this on purpose because they were following a religion.  We can't call religions crazy or we are calling most people are crazy. That would be crazy! 

Let's say that a bit differently: You are not insane if your crazy actions are part of your god given right as an American citizen to practice your religion. It's a free speech issue. The caveat of course is that crazyish criminal behavior, religion or not, is still criminal. Worse than that, you can no longer play the crazy card at your trial. 

Isn't this cool? Not only do the criminals use great pseudoscience, but our legal system is on board too. Better yet, the legal system has the trump card. 

Is this the golden age of pseudoscience?