“buzzsawmonkey” at @corrcomm quotes his father, a scientist, on the irrational (see comment #16):
When I was young, I thought—we all thought—that science and rationality would triumphantly replace religion. We were wrong, because man, while capable of rationality in certain areas, is not a rational animal.
There is no removing the non-rational from human beings—and if you try to do this, all you get is bad science, because the non-rational impulse will invade and corrupt the ability to think rationally. It is the lack of a place and a control for non-rational thinking that creates false science like the hysteria over cancer from cell phones or power lines, or over global warming.
Human non-rationality is like a universal solvent, which dissolves whatever it touches. The problem with a universal solvent is to find a vessel to contain and control it so it cannot do any harm. The only vessel that has proven itself capable of containing non-rationality over any period of time, and making it possible to control it so that it is not harmful, and even to harness it for useful ends, is religion. Religion is not a perfect vessel; there are spills and breakages. But it is the only vessel which has been able to contain non-rationality and harness it for good.
Nail, meet hammer. I now see where buzz’s way with words comes from.