One of the many complaints skeptics get is that irrational beliefs are harmless, and that they give people comfort. Sometimes I like to give the Bill Maher answer, but there are other sensible issues that people defending irrationality seem to forget about.
For example, endangered species. There are a lot -and I, literally, mean a lot– of magical potions, and supposed cures that have to do with eating animals – exotic animals. And though there’s no evidence of these claims, people will kill and eat and endanger some species.
The latest one, the brown spider monkey:
The woman had no breath. Her family said it looked as if she had energy gone forever, on the eve of a long agony. The solution: take a Magdalena’s brown spider monkey broth. A million pesos would be given to the person who got a specimen of this animal, which could be cooked with that supposed miraculous stew.
It’s not a story. This has happened for years in the Middle Magdalena, where the flesh of this monkey, which is only seen in Colombia and in some isolated parts of Venezuela, has been accredited as the only solution for patients with anemia to rise from bed. A tradition without scientific basis, which among other threats has led to the extinction of this charismatic Colombian primate, perhaps one of the most exotic and representative of the country’s rainforests.
So there – irrational beliefs are dangerous for both, humans and animals.