Negative reinforcement?

In the past 2-3 days I have had 36(!) hits on my site from one sort of google query. They have all gone to this one post, which I had made a few months ago in honor of the solar eclipse that was to occur. This time, the queries were made in honor of the partial lunar eclipse that occured yesterday, and could be observed from all parts of India.

What were the queries about? They were all, unanimously, about "precautions for pregnant women during eclipse" or with out without the same words. And most of these queries return my blogpost as the first result. What surprised me yet again (I guess I should cease to be surprised by these things anymore) is that supposedly net-savvy people use Google to find out whether superstitions like this are actually true!

I suppose a lot of people got disappointed yesterday because my post did not reinforce their belief that eclipses are harmful for pregnant women. I am hoping that at least a few of them got to re-thinking their attitude about the wonderous phenomena of eclipses and has seen them for what they are: beautiful coincidences where we can rejoice in the grand ballet of the celestial spheres rather than some demons taking a bite out of our main sources of energy and light.

So, what is the opposite of "positive reinforcement"?

3 comments:

TaRuN said...

"supposedly net-savvy people use Google to find out whether superstitions like this are actually true!"

For starters, just using google does not make peoplpe net-savvy. Infact, the big thing about google is that it has been able to achieve the exact opposite - get net-innocent people on the internet bandwagon and make the whole experience smooth for them. There are countless stories on the net about people for whom Google IS the net - its a gateway. Just to put things in perspective, only about 1% of internet users know and use simple technologies like RSS.

Also, all these people might just be curious about the superstitions that they have heard and checking out the literature available on the same. That does not in any way shows that they actually believe in them.

Finally, belief in superstition is just that - a belief. Following the same argument, even belief in God and acting on it (praying etc) can be made out to be a superstition. Yes, am sure all the atheists might concur but that still leaves more than 99% of the world believing in this "superstition" each and every day. I respect the belief of so many people and more than that, I respect the FREEDOM of these people to believe in anything they want, as long as it does not impinges on someone else's freedom.

"beautiful coincidences where we can rejoice in the grand ballet of the celestial spheres rather than some demons taking a bite out of our main sources of energy and light."
But doesn't the demon story sound much more interesting than the scientific explanation. Lot of books that we read and appreciate ask us to suspend our beliefs and explore their mystical worlds. IMHO, factual world is not a very charming world.
Disclaimer: The above paragraph might very well be the effect of watching "finding Neverland" a couple of days back.

opposite of "positive reinforcement".... "sarcastic whiplash"? :)

Sidhusaaheb said...

My guess is that a lot of the folks running those searches were 'IT Professionals'!

:D

Tanushree said...

@Tarun: Re: superstitions, I was reading a piece somewhere yesterday that human beings naturally try to attribute causes to phenomena that they don't understand. People need superstitions in their lives to try and explain the unknown and inexplicable. But once the cause is known and explained, sticking to the same superstition is...? Give me a word for it please?

@Sidhusaaheb: Yep, who else has the time and resources to do stuff like this all day anyway?