The New Zealand Skeptics are fighting a losing battle against superstition, mythology and pottiness.
The skeptics form a network of New Zealanders including magicians, teachers, scientists and health professionals and their members have a variety of religious faiths, economic beliefs and political leanings
…but are all interested in examining what objective scientific support there is for claims of such things as psychic abilities, alternative health practices, creationism and other areas where science, pseudo-science and shonky science interact.
There are always more questions!
Of course there are.
But Alf is deeply disturbed this morning to learn of a study that found a third of New Zealanders believe aliens have visited Earth and a majority think psychic powers exist.
According to the Herald’s account of this study –
One thousand respondents were asked by UMR Research if they believed “that Earth has been visited by UFOs from other planets”.
About 33 per cent said they did, and Maori (42 per cent) and Pasifika (40 per cent) were more likely to believe.
But age does bring an element of wisdom.
The number of believers is greatest among the 30 to 44 year olds at 36 per cent, and drops to 26 per cent among those aged 60 and over.
But wait – there’s more.
The UMR survey also found 55 per cent believed that at least some people have psychic powers such as ESP.
Women (67 per cent), over-60s (63 per cent) and Maori (60 per cent) more likely than others to be believers.
Oh, and 25% of respondents believe astrology can predict people’s futures.
Mrs Grumble – Alf is delighted to report – is not one of these.
If she did believe astrology could predict her future, she would be in something of a quandary, because she does look at horoscopes for the fun of it.
And more often than not the future set out for her in the Women’s Weekly is contradicted by the future set out for her in the New Idea.
As for Maori being more likely to believe in visitors from outser space, psychic powers, and what have you, we should not be surprised.
They have a world view (to use the parlance of the academics) that makes them more likely to believe in the super-natural.
On death, for example, Maori believe the spirit travels to the Pohutukawa tree on the tip of Cape Reinga, at the top of the North Island – as far as man may go in New Zealand.
The spirit then slides down a root of the Pohutukawa, to the sea below. The spirit emerges onto Ohaua, which is the highest tip of the Three Kings Islands, for a final farewell before rejoining the ancestors.
Why it should take such an arduous and somewhat convoluted journey, rather than soar straight to Heaven, is beyond Alf’s Ken.
Oh, and don’t forget that Maori believe
…taniwha are supernatural creatures whose forms and characteristics vary according to different tribal traditions.
Though supernatural, in the Māori world view they were seen as part of the natural environment.
Taniwha have been described as fabulous monsters that live in deep water. Others refer to them as dragons – many taniwha looked like reptiles, had wings and ate people.
They could also take the shape of animals such as sharks, whales, octopuses, or even logs. Some taniwha could change their shape, moving between different forms.
Taniwha were either male or female. They usually lived in or near the water – lakes, rivers or the sea. They hid in lairs known as rua taniwha, which could be deep pools, caves, or dangerous waterways – areas that people avoided.
In some traditions, taniwha were terrifying creatures that captured people and ate them.
Yeah, Alf knows he has Scottish blood in his veins, and some Scots still harbour beliefs in creatures such as kelpies, mermaids and water monsters.
A family of werewolves were said to occupy an island on Loch Langavat.
And wills-o’-the-wisp have been reported in the area of Sandwick.
The lights that float around the area normally announce approaching death for a local. Some say the light belongs to an Irish merchant who was robbed and murdered on the island.[
Alf has no Macleods among his relatives, so far as he knows.
But he understands that one of the heirlooms of the chiefs of Clan Macleod is the Fairy Flag.
Numerous traditions state that the flag originated as a gift from the fairies.
We have a few fairies in Parliament nowadays. They are not the sort that gave the Macleods their flag, however.