postcard from a twentysomething

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Indy Lifestyle Online
My friend Louise was a perfectly rational person, who had no time for fortune tellers, ghosts, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, touching wood, throwing salt over her left shoulder, or anything else propounded by the lead singer of Kula Shaker. And then last week she spoilt it. She couldn't discount reincarnation, she said. She thought that when people died there was "a transfer of energy".

I resisted the urge to help her energy start transferring there and then, but I felt betrayed, all the same. This kind of illogical superstition was like voting Conservative or smoking: I can appreciate why people of older generations might not know any better, but for anyone of my age group there's just no excuse.

We've grown up in a computerised, microwaved, Internetted, subatomic era, and yet half of us believe not only everything we see on The X Files, but also that Gillian Anderson is the most beautiful woman on the planet, despite all the available scientific evidence to the contrary.

Enough is enough, as our Prime Minister was once wont to say. It's time to get tough on superstition and tough on the causes of superstition. I am making plans to round up all the promiscuously credulous and shut them in a rehabilitation centre. And there will be, as our PM was also once wont to say, zero tolerance. Anyone who doesn't flick channels when Mystic Meg appears on the Lottery programme will be liable for treatment. To be on the safe side, so will anybody who watches the Lottery programme at all. There will be a whole wing set aside for the Of-course-I-don't- believe-in-astrology-I-just-read-my-horoscope-for-fun-to-see-if-any-of- it-fits-with-what-actually-happens brigade. And anyone heard uttering the words, "I'm just saying that there are some things science can't explain... ", whether or not this statement is followed by the words "so obviously a vague and contradictory set of suppositions based on a system which was considered to be scientific 3,000 years ago is much more likely to explain them," will be struck over the head repeatedly with Richard Dawkins hardbacks.

Once these benighted fools are safely under lock and key, I'll short- circuit their minds by making them sit tests in superstition arithmetic: "If I broke a mirror while killing two spiders three years ago, how unlucky will I be on Friday the 13th, assuming I have a four-leaf clover in my pocket, and that I have just found a penny and picked it up?" My prisoners, a suggestible bunch at the best of times, will be confused, shaken and ripe for brainwashing. It will be easy to convert them to my cause. I'll train them as shock troops, and deploy them on raids of bookshops, where they'll grab the volumes on holistic medicine and move them from the Science section to Fiction.

So as not to put my own credentials as leader of the Sceptic Revolution in doubt, I should confess that I wear a good-luck charm, but only because it belonged to be my uncle. I inherited the charm when a sofa fell out of a tower block window and killed him.

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