Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ghost Prostitution: The Discovery Channel and the Catholic Church

I love some of The Discovery Channel's programs, but their ghost-hunter series has always been a huge blight on their reputation. It's pure money-making balderdash, taking advantage of people's gullibility and superstitions to make a buck. I've tried to watch it, but it's so ... stupid. Do people actually fall for that stuff?

Sadly, yes. People still believe in ghosts, and fall for the stupid tricks they pull when producing the show. And I guess I can't blame Discovery Channel for wanting to make money.

But now The Discovery Channel is going too far. They announced a devil's pact with the Roman Catholic Church for an exorcism series. They're sanctioning the mistreatment of mentally ill people and making money from it.

It's pure economic prostitution.

Schizophrenia and other delusional mental disorders are among the worst diseases one can get. They turn the victim's own mind into an instrument of torture, often leaving the patient terrorized and tormented for years, decades and even for life. Modern medicine has made some real progress, giving life and hope back to many patients. But even those who for whom these drugs work are not actually cured; the drugs merely reduce symptoms. The schizophrenic patients lead lives plagued by voices, doubts, anxiety and fear. They frequently can't work, live alone or have normal romantic relationships.

Before we understood schizophrenia and other mental illness, it might have been reasonable to guess that evil spirits and demons were involved. But now we know better. Exorcism is pure superstitious nonsense left over from the dark ages when we knew nothing of psychiatry and mental illness. Exorcism should have been left behind along with flat-earth theories and alchemy. Exorcism is no different than witchcraft and voodoo.

But religion has a remarkable way of hanging on to outdated, false beliefs simply because they are the "word of God." Or in this case, the word of the Pope and his bishops. Supposedly they have some sort of direct line to God. In order to exorcise exorcisms from the Roman Catholic Church's official teachings, they'd have to admit that God was wrong, that they were mistaken about a belief. When was the last time the Roman Catholic Church said, "Oops ... we made a mistake!" Was it about that guy Galileo?

The Roman Catholic Church's ongoing support for exorcism as a way of treating mental illness is a modern scandal. (I've written about this before.) They've made considerable progress – they at least recognize that most people who were once considered possessed were actually mentally ill. So they've modified their guidelines to require medical examinations and so forth to ensure that it's really demons, not mental illness. But it's still a scandal of the first order.

The Discovery Channel should be ashamed of themselves for supporting this destructive nonsense. They are lending it legitimacy by airing these pseudo-scientific programs alongside genuine science.

Here are some earlier articles I wrote about schizophrenia and religion:


  1. Religion will continue to evolve, albeit lagging behind, with science in an attempt to save itself. It will be up to individuals to suddenly realize that all of the things they've been taught have been admitted as "oversights" by their own religion while they cling to the few elements you can't disprove (with the burden of proof on disproving instead of proving).



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