When Worlds Collide #86: Haunted by Twenty-first Century Demons?

When Worlds Collide, by Nalaka Gunawardene

Text of my ‘When Worlds Collide’ column published in Ceylon Today Sunday broadsheet newspaper on 6 October 2013

Sri Lanka mask

Meet the 21st Century Demons!

That was how I started a recent talk to the annual scientific sessions of the College of Community Physicians Sri Lanka, held in Colombo in late September.

I don’t believe in ghosts and spirits, but I’m interested in how such notions shape people’s behaviour. As literacy and education levels rise, I notice how old demons are being replaced by new, more potent ones.

With modernisation, fewer Lankans uncritically accept Maha Sona, Mohinee and Riri Yaka that dominated the psychological landscape for generations. In their place, a new set of modern-day demons have emerged.

These ‘demons’ come in many shapes and forms. They include various half truths, misconceptions, fallacies, myths and conspiracy theories. Playing on an insular and insecure national psyche, these elements seem to have multiplied…

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