The Veneer of Respectability

matthew's picture

My problem with organized religion is illustrated by a small slice of a speech being given by some dude with an accent on the TV in Utah right now. He used an urban legend as if it were truth to prove a doctrinal point. Religions are based on legends formed from half-truths and inaccurate memories accepted as fact and given a veneer of respectability by the passage of time.

The specific legend he referenced is the "Nasa Space Pen" legend, in an attempt to recommend that people simplify their lives: http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp . The "simple" solution of using a pencil results in sharp pi...eces of conductive graphite floating around the cabin getting into astronaut eyes, nose, ears, as well as the spacecraft's electrical circuitry. Additionally, a pencil is very flammable in a 100% oxygen atmosphere which is a profound safety hazard... which is the reason astronauts today don't use them.

Meanwhile, the "space pen" -- research paid for by a capitalist company, not the government -- is safe, effective, non-flammable, and a near-perfect solution to the problem of writing in space. But it is a very complicated writing instrument, used for its safety and versatility over the hazardous but "simple" pencil. And one in use by all astronauts everywhere because it does the job without a safety hazard.

I understand the desire to encourage people to simplify their lives. I agree with the sentiment. But using falsehoods to prove a point poisons the well of one's entire store of wisdom.