The content in this page ("Only naivete and superstition can explain the GT200 swindle" by Pravit Rojanaphruk, The Nation) is not produced by Prachatai staff. Prachatai merely provides a platform, and the opinions stated here do not necessarily reflect those of Prachatai.

Only naivete and superstition can explain the GT200 swindle

The Bt800-million GT200 hoax is forcing scientists to encourage Thais to become more rational. It is a fair and modest request, because Thai society is bound to benefit from rational thought. 

Yet, a quick observation will reveal how superstition trumps logic in this country. For instance, many Thais still believe that lottery numbers can be found in plants, trees and animals. It is common to see otherwise bright young students lighting incense in front of some deity and praying that they do well at their entrance exams. Office workers are often seen making offerings to the spirit house guarding their office building in the hope that their employers will look upon them more kindly. 

Apart from the hocus-pocus, children are discouraged from asking too many questions - because a good child is one that does not question older people. And when they grow up, they become good citizens - the sort that simply obey and never question the authorities. 

In an environment like this, it is difficult to expect rational thinking to take root and flourish. 

Mainstream media in Thailand are far too used to merely reporting news, without analysing why things are the way they are and what can be done to fix the faults. 

People who become too used to being pointed down the "correct" path, rather than being asked to think about the cause-and-effect of things, become naturally more susceptible to political propaganda.

Some Thai adults are so used to not questioning people in authority that they have adapted themselves to thriving well by paying lip service to the powerful and corrupt, or turning a blind eye to wrongdoing. This certainly does not bode well for society because it doesn't just encourage uncritical thinking, it also opens the door to more corruption, abuse of power and nepotism. 

It is unfortunate to see superstition and the abandonment of critical faculties take such deep root in Thai society as more and more people just sit back and accept things - no questions asked. 

It seems that many people prefer to solve their problems by not bothering to understand the source of the problem but instead take shortcuts, even though these very shortcuts would in the long run be harmful. 

How else can one explain Army chief General Anupong Paochinda and forensics department chief Pornthip Rojanasunand insisting on using the so-called bomb detectors even though a Science Ministry test had proved that they are basically useless? And what about the dozens of people who were wrongly arrested in the South through use of these GT200s?

Is this is a denial of reality or corruption - or both?

Whether it is science or superstition, the government owes the public an explanation on how Bt800 million of the taxpayers' money was spent on this modern version of snake oil.

Recently, this writer heard a radio host on FM 93 asking listeners whether they thought Thai society was based on science or superstition.  

One middle-aged-sounding man called in and said he thought Thai society was scientifically minded because we are surrounded by so many hi-tech gadgets - and he wasn't joking.