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Eliezer: Parables are more like stories, so they fit into the mind more easily. Please don't let the critics get you down. This is great stuff. The difference between explanation, citation, and verbal mumbo-jumbo should be taught in elementary science classes as soon as kids can comprehend it.

michael vassar: An even better film example of passwords, curiosity-stopping, and nonexplanation appears in the film "Idiocracy".

There everyone drinks gatorade because they have been inculcated with the marketing slogan that "It's got electrolytes -- what your body craves!" They proceed to irrigate the crops with gatorade, causing a famine. A critic tries to point out that crops need water. Then the mob responds that gatorade is better since it has elecrolytes. But what are electrolytes, he asks? "They're what plants crave!" they answer. But why do plants crave them? he asks. "Because they're electrolytes!" the mob responds, slowly seeing that the critic is moron who can't understand basic logic.

I was reminded of this when my friend commented that creatine is the greatest bodybuilding supplement because it gives your muscles extra "bursting power". It didn't seem to trouble him that the idea of "bursting power" did not exist in his mind before he had heard about creatine, or that it had no meaning in his mind apart from it being the thing creatine gives your muscles.

I think the gibberish supporting exercise supplements is a goldmine for peeople seeking real-world examples of password nonexplanations.

What is interesting is that the rhetoric for exercise supplements apes the verbal style of science to usurp its legitimacy. These supplements are marketed at fairly literal-minded sporty guys. And if you walk down to the next shelf in your health-food store, you will find other supplements marketed with a rhetoric based on the magic power of nature, crystals, love, mother earth, etc.. These are targeted at hippy-dippy types, and ape the verbal style of magic for its legitimacy with them.

I think the fundamental difference in the rhetorics is what logicnazi said: science is based on materialism, and magic is based on a romantic faith in the significance of human feeling. Magic appeals to people more. It is only the institutionalization of science that gives it enough prestige that many people will credit pseudo-scientific nonexplanations they don't really understand over blatantly magical thinking that makes no sense.