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From: CEvans1950
Date: Thu, 9 Apr 1998 11:10:59 EDT
To: frice@skeptictank.org
Subject: Delusional beliefs kill

Hi Fred,

Here is another example of how the allegedly "revealed religions" of the Middle East result in unnecessary deaths. Were these folks in full possession of their faculties they would have been home where they belong rather than indulging in utterly empty rituals.

We can look at the "calm and mellow paradise" that constitutes the Middle East to see where the entire planet is headed if superstition rather than rationality is allowed to rule the human race.

Rational thought is a learned skill. Superstitious thought is the default form of thought. Superstition is a form of pre-rational thought and is an attempt to link causes and effects. This is the natural precursor to rational thought. In rational thought causes and effects are first hypothesized and then tested for validity. In superstitious thinking causes and effects are hypothesized and then accepted without validity testing.

We need only look at the superstition laboratory that constitutes the Middle East to see that superstition leads to doom and chaos when populations exceed the available resources thus leading to conflict for available resources.

While the human tragedy would be unthinkable, as a practical matter, the best thing for the human race of the future would be for an asteroid several miles in diameter to strike the Mediterranean Sea ASAP thus wiping from the face of the earth all trace of these false beliefs and their most fervent believers.

I for one would be quite willing to deal with the resulting "nuclear winter" and its privations if I were assured that future generations would be a rational people rather than superstitous quasi-human animals.

Sincerely,
Caroline

Muslim Pilgrims Stampede

.c The Associated Press

MECCA, Saudi Arabia (April 9) - At least 107 Muslim pilgrims died in a stampede on the last day of the hajj, the official Saudi news agency reported Thursday.

The stampede occurred at 12:40 p.m. as pilgrims were performing a ritual known as ''stoning the devil,'' the agency said.

The stampede occurred on the plains of Mina outside Mecca. Some elderly and sick pilgrims fell off an overpass, the agency said. In the rush that ensued, 107 pilgrims were trampled, it said.

The agency said the casualty figure was preliminary and security officials did not have a breakdown of nationalities.

Crowds of tens of thousands had struggled with heat that hovered above 100. Helicopters earlier had hovered overhead to spot pilgrims fainting, and workers threw small bags of chilled water from trucks to those making their way to the pillars.

The stampede was the latest tragedy to befall the hajj, which has in the past been marred other stampedes, fires and political protests that turned violent. Until Thursday, Saudi officials had praised the smooth running of this year's pilgrimage.

At the ceremony at the pillars, the 2.3 million pilgrims from more than 100 countries throw seven chickpea-size stones at each of the pillars on the Mina plain three times over as many days.

Thursday marked the last day of the hajj. Pilgrims will still circle the Kaaba to end the pilgrimage, an obligation once in a lifetime of every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.

The Kaaba, a cube-like structure at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, is considered the spiritual center of Islam.

AP-NY-04-09-98 1015EDT

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