Commuting days until retirement: 518
Sunday – so rather than struggling to the train to notch up another commuting day, I am in my dressing gown munching toast in front of the Andrew Marr Show. And I stay on with the telly for that strange confection called The Big Questions. From what I’ve seen of this before it’s rather prone to producing Small Answers. Today was no exception, particularly in the section on the topic “Is faith compatible with reason?” (A mere third of the programme devoted to this.) The programme demonstrates that faith which TV producers have, against all reason, that if you plonk enough people with extreme and diametrically opposed opinions in front of each other, and give them each a few moments each to rant at each other, that some enlightenment will come out of it all. (Well, I know that their agenda is to deliver ratings, rather than enlightenment. But couldn’t Sunday morning ‘god-slot’ TV be viewed more as a public service, and less as a ratings deliverer? Unfortunately I think that the brains of the people who run BBC1 are hardwired to work the other way.)
On the programme, the most difficult participant to ignore – and certainly the most irritating – was a lady called Andrea Foulkes, an accomplished TV performer, who, as she was anxious to impress on us, has had her own show on ITV. Among the accomplishments mentioned on her website is that of being an “Intuitive Soul Whisperer”. Well, we all need one of those. And what did she have to say? I will have to quote (thank goodness for iPlayer, allowing me to check I’m quoting accurately):
Quantum physics is starting to prove that the heart has a cohesive wave-form – it has a pattern, which is replicated, which creates emotion… Everyone’s thoughts and beliefs come from three strains: they come from ancestral pattterns, which we call genetic… and then you have past life patterns; and then you have compounded stuff, which you have from being in the womb to the present day, because you have consciousness in the womb. And this creates your current reality…
“What is your external proof?” asked someone. “External proof?” she burbled on, sweetly tolerant of those too slow to keep up with her, “External proof is clients who have experienced it, and they change their reality… all realities exist, but they exist within different dimensions. We live in a multidimensional reality, we live in a holographic universe”. (“We live in a what?”, interjected a bemused presenter.)
Well of course you don’t need to be a specialist in any of the disciplines she skipped over to be able to recognise all this as piffle of a high order. Further debate showed her telegenic, coiffeured carapace to be case-hardened against any assault by reason or logic. Which rather played into the hands of the other participant who made an impression on me – this time a positive one.
Will Storr, I learnt, is just bringing out a book: The Heretics – Adventures with the Enemies of Science, which supports the idea that we often choose our beliefs at first out of emotionally derived motives, only then seeking to justify them by selectively adopting the arguments which support them. While this can’t be universally true, it’s an issue which has always interested me. His pre-publication reviewers on Amazon are generally approving, if a little lukewarm, but I feel it’s a must-read for me. It comes out on Thursday, and I’ve preordered it on my Kindle.
That will use up a few train journeys, and I hope to report back in a future post. So – thank you, BBC, and sorry for my carping above. I did get something out of The Big Questions after all.