Furthermore, I'd like to have a little rant about people who are religious and people who believe in supernatural phenomena (aliens, ghosts, talk to the dead etc) that when questioned or disagreeing with their claims they then tell you that you need to be more 'open-minded' without even understanding what being open minded actual is.
Being open minded is simply having a willingness to consider new ideas, a concept that science thrives on. Furthering our understanding about the enviornment we live in depends on our willingness to consider new ideas. Entirely. Which is why you just have to laugh at the religiously/supernaturally smug who say: 'Well, science doesn't know everything.' Ofcourse not. If science knew everything, it would stop. Because science doesn't know everything that doesn't mean science knows nothing. Science knows enough to cure a vast range of diesases that people before the Enlightment would of found unfathomable, it knows enough for anyone in the world (who can read english and has an internet connection) to read this message, it knows enough to enable me to travel from London to Cape Town in 11 hours as oppose too several months. It has tangible results which we all benefit from and nearly all of us take for granted.
Anyway, my gripe with the 'y'all gotta be more open minded' people is that when you embrace supernatural concepts as the only explaination for something as oppose to a scientific or naturalist explaination, you are almost always the opposite of open minded.
An Irishmen from Limerick who I met in Latvia told me about the time his neighbour walked into his house while he was reading the paper and noticed that the lampshade on the table beside the armchair was seemingly moving of its own accord. The neighbour, being a Catholic, superstitious sort, said; 'Jesus Christ, thats a ghost!' when the neighbour was told that this was not a ghost he replied 'What? You have the evidence right infront of you!' and went on to accuse the man from Limerick of being 'arrogantly closed-minded' and 'stupidly uncurious'. When the mans neighbour had finished his little out burst, the man turned off the fan heater beside the armchair that was causing the lampshade to move. Feeling like a prick the neighbour sheepishly said '...Oh.'
Isn't it interesting how the 'openminded' one in this story was the one to immediatly leap to the first assumption that came to mind without examining anyother possible reason the lampshade was moving, and accused anyone around him of being 'closed minded' and 'not curious' when they didn't agree with him?
If a person with this mindset is to look at an event that they deem to be 'unexplainable' they will endeavour to misinterpret evidence, make unfounded causal connections and completely eliminate alternative explainations before their even able to determine which explainations are even appropriate to the event. That is the definaition of closed minded.
Often people who tell you to be open minded about the supernatural or religion will follow up with some story or anecdote from their lives, where they apparently experienced something that science 'cannot explain'. Even if this was true, so what? All that has happened is you have experienced something that your understanding of science cannot explain, and even if science can't explain it, then the event is just that. Unexplained. It doesn't mean God, ghosts or underpants gnomes did anything. If one were to suggest that a lack of an explaination for an event is evidence of supernatural powers at work, then they have just contradicted themselves as they have just supplied an explaination for this event.
If one of your friends or family members was involved in a horrific car accident that left them bleeding by the side of the road badly injured, would you accept the offer from a total stranger of 'I have a magic liquid, that if i pour into their wounds will heal them instantly.'? Ok, maybe they wouldn't say 'magic liquid', but whatever, would you trust a total stranger to pour a substance you know nothing about into the wounds of a loved one? I'd like to think not. Does that make you closed minded? No. Hell no.
I remember the first time I visited the beautiful American state of Tennessee, where I first heard the term a 'Doubting Thomas'. For those of you who don't know, Thomas was one of Jesus's deciples, and when he heard from the other deciples that Jesus rose from the dead Thomas did not believe them. He wanted to see Jesus before he would. He wanted to see the wounds in this hands and the wound in his side before he would accept this claim. When Jesus did appear to Thomas and Thomas saw his face and his wounds he finally believed that Jesus had rose from the dead. Jesus then said something like: 'Blessed are those who believe in me without seeing me' or words to that effect. So anyone who doubts something, that sounds quite nice but completely unsupported by anything, is refered too as a Doubting Thomas. Hmm.
I remember being told this story and thinking 'Huh? Why are you making Thomas out to be the bad one? He did what any rational person would do. He heard an extradinary claim, and demanded extradinary evidence for that claim and when he got that evidence he believed it.' But ofcourse the point if the story is that it is a virtue to not ask for physcially evidence for the most important claim in human history, you're just supposed to take other peoples word for it. That is literally the moral of the story.