A few days ago I sent my computer in to the witch doctor to get the evil spirits exorcised from it. It's not back yet; I'm using one of the excess number of computers my family owns to make this post. Hopefully though, I will get it back soon with fully balanced chi.
I'm joking of course. The computer's at a computer shop getting some spyware and adware problems fixed. But for all I know about computers, those programs may as well be evil spirits. When I get a message saying I'm low on free memory, it may as well be telling me it has bad chi. And, with their knowledge of a complex field that I barely know the jargon for, I can't help but look upon computer people as if they're the keepers of a secret, magical lore.
Computers scare me not only because I don't understand them, but I'm not sure how many people really do. If I wanted an explanation of what happens when I make a bloc post, I'd likely have to go through several people who understand how the programs involved were written, another who understands how the programming language works in terms of assembly language, another who understands how the assembly language works in terms of machine language and hardware. That may understate the problem, if any hacker comes across this, fill me in on the details. The worst part is, while a similar picture could be drawn of biological systems (breaking down the biology, chemistry, particle physics, etc.) computers are our creation.
The multi-layered nature of computer science epitomizes how specialized our society has become, one of the great challenges of modern society. Some discussion of the increase in newspapers with astrology columns and such treats the issue as a matter of history cycling between periods of enlightenment and superstition. The reality is more subtle. Society is hyperspecialized, with various specialists isolated from each other. Pseudoscience is rarely about stupidity or generalized ignorance. Irrationality plays a role, but it's not the main ingredient. The key issue is ignorance of knowledge needed to evaluate an claim. Great examples are Sir William Crookes, a respected physicist who became convinced a stage magician was the real thing, and William D. Rubinstein, a historian who wrote a stunningly ill-informed attack on evolution. Both men presumably knew their field and had the brains to sucked in it. What they lacked was knowledge of stage magic and biology, respectively.
I don't know if there's any solution. There's always education, but this has its limit by the nature of the problem, that is, the vast number of things there are to be educated about. I myself feel I know quite a bit about some brands of pseudoscience, like parapsychology, but I feel less confident in my ability to tell legitimate psychiatric practice from quackery. Perhaps someday we will genetically engineer things like groupthink and dishonesty out of existence. Until then the problem will only get worse as knowledge, and therefore specialization, increases.