|The sun rose today, but will it rise tomorrow?|
I mentioned in my last post that Peakrill Press is branching out into a variety of non-gaming related content. I will also be blogging more about random stuff. If you’re here just for RPGs, that’s cool: there’ll still be plenty, and you can skip the rest. But I hope that, if you enjoy my writing about games, you’ll appreciate my writing about everything else under the sun.
Any good scientist will tell you that there is no such thing as “scientific proof”. What this inaccurate but handy phrase is shorthand for is “a scientific theory that has a lot of evidence that appears to back it up”. As the great philosopher David Hume teaches us, even the theory that “the sun rises every morning” is one we can never prove to be true, because: what about tomorrow morning?There are folks, I’ll call them scientismists, some of whom believe that scientific proof is a thing, and almost all of whom believe that if a thing doesn’t have at least “a lot of evidence that appears to back it up” then it’s not worth doing, perhaps even dangerous. What a joyless approach to life!What scientismists appear to forget (even though they often use the term!) is a thing called the “Placebo Effect” which basically means that even when a thing doesn’t work, it works! There’s a belief out there that if something – say, for example, homoeopathy – is “only” as effective as the placebo effect then it’s bunkum, to be avoided at all costs. What a wrong-headed approach to doing good!Some of the stuff I’ll suggest here – in particular the habit of “gratitude journaling” that forms the heart of this book – have “a lot of evidence which appears to back them up”. Other stuff, like drawing trees or counting the number of petals on a daisy, probably don’t. That shouldn’t stop you from doing them.
(Disclaimer: not everything untested is as good as a placebo. For example, the theory that jumping out of a plane without a parachute is better for you than jumping out with one has not yet been tested, and I don’t advise you to be the first to try).
By the way, there are some very good books out there which go into detail on which “self-help” practices appear to be more effective than the Placebo Effect – I recommend starting with Richard Wiseman’s “59 Seconds”. But do bear in mind that all you need to do in order for something you do to do you good, is to believe that it does you good.I say “all you need to do”. Forcing yourself to believe something is a tough nut to crack, especially if you’ve cynical tendencies like mine. But it is doable. Just remember: the Placebo Effect exists. And it’s magic!
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