Skepticism In Mexico
Grassroots skepticism in Mexico is growing. Throughout the country, there are bloggers and journalists promoting science and critical thinking and, like many other skeptics’ group, we hold Skeptics in the Pub meetings. One of the biggest events we’ve organized, following Merseyside Skeptics’ lead, was a homeopathic overdose in front of the Ministry of Health to protest and inform about the reality of Homeopathy. This got some media attention, as well as some of the science and critical thinking lectures organized by a few universities. And although there are a few TV and radio shows that reach bigger audiences, they tend to be on smaller channels or frequencies.
Our biggest problem is an immense lack of critical thinking throughout the country. So much so, that the image of Mexico our authorities have continuously tried to export is one of magic and esotericism, going so far as designating certain towns with a rich and varied culture and history, as “Magical” towns – as if magic was all they had to offer. This point of view is not relegated to the small historic towns and villages; even within the city, the biggest street-market in the country is practically dedicated to witchcraft and magic. Naturally, UFO visits are constantly being reported and it’s a popular belief that the hundreds of pyramids in the country were built by aliens. Of course, as one would expect, every spring equinox, people flock to the pyramids to get charged with magical energy.
This lack of critical thinking is not reserved for the uneducated, for it is also widely known that several presidents have frequently consulted astrologers and other soothsayers to make official decisions. Clearly, we live surrounded by magical thinking and beliefs in all kinds of weird stuff.
A few months ago, during a science and innovation convention, the Minister of Health proudly announced the formation of a homeopathic and acupuncture clinic in Mexico City. And to make matters worse, in the past few years, the government has spent millions on Molecular Detectors (GT-200) that are being used to allegedly protect us from the war on organized crime we are in.
Miracle products are being promoted and sold 24/7 on almost all of the major networks and the government’s actions against them are feeble or non-existing. Conventions on alternative medicine are being held at the national hospitals without a single eyebrow being raised. Mexico has truly become a paradise to sell all of these types of products.
Nonetheless, of all the major topics skeptics are devoted to, there are a few we have fortunately avoided. There are very little efforts by Creationist groups to infiltrate our public school system, for instance. Perhaps due to the large Catholic presence we have, much the same as in the rest of Latin America, where evolution is hardly ever debated. Vaccines are also accepted as beneficial and are widely available in even the most rural areas. Happily, we also don’t have psychic or mentalist TV stars.
Each country has its own problems with beliefs, superstition and magical thinking, and this is just the tip of the iceberg in Mexico. Each group of skeptics has its own fights to pick. Mexican Skeptics have a clear notion of what to fight against, and the movement is doing it on a daily basis. Some of the groups dedicated to this include Espejo Esceptico, Papa Esceptico, El Viaje De Lonjho, Razonando, and Sobrenatural.