I think that with some exceptions, like wealthy heads of state who employ handsomely paid astrologers, and the worldwide Alt-Med industry that rakes in billions of dollars in profits annually, among others, the practical world of for-profit industry has little use for non-scientific claims of fact.
Now, I’m well aware that there are people who believe these claims, but the point is that if any of these phenomena really worked, there would be a much wider use of them in mainstream industries than just a few rogue executives and employees bleeding funds on oil and mineral dowsing scams, or hiring mystics to enhance their mojo in anticipation of the next fiscal year’s budget plans.
Woo itself is big business, not because it works, but because people are gullible, and there are enough people who believe it works, who often literally buy into it for it to turn a healthy profit for those who style themselves merchants of openness, trust and goodwill.
Trust is a good thing, but real trust is based upon evidence, that of knowledge concerning those to be trusted, and it’s often unfortunately equated with credulity.
Uncritical acceptance of claims that causes one to ignore doubt, dismiss evidence, and the possibility of being mistaken is more than just harmless idle fancy, it’s dangerous to both one’s wealth and health.
Credulity is not trust, but a parody of it, benefiting the one having it not a bit, and the one exploiting it a lot. Anyone who tells you to just trust them and never think for yourself is not your friend, but someone with an agenda in mind that does not involve your physical or financial well-being.
If the claims of psychics, New Age gurus, free energy proponents and alternative medical practitioners really worked — if a treatment really did what it was claimed to and not just ride the coattails of the placebo effect and statistical regression to the mean, for example, — these ideas would be in much wider use by mainstream industries, not just by believers, because all things being equal, ideas that work have a tendency over time to see broader application than those that don’t.
I’m aware that not all things are equal though, because it’s entirely possible for a false idea to persist for hundreds or thousands of years and remain in use — The human tendency for belief in ineffective practices is without peer — bloodletting, trepaning, patent medicines, exorcisms, and infant sacrifices to petition the gods for an end to drought all come to mind.
The persistence of bad ideas over long historical periods is something endemic to our species, and it may one day kill us off if we aren’t wary.
That’s why the mere fact that a practice is ancient, or widely accepted, does not imply that it’s true. If it becomes widely used over a long time because it works, so much the better, but that is not necessarily the case.
You can fool employees, executives, and depending on demographics, potential customers, but you can’t fool the limits of the technology and labor that go into an industry’s goods and services.
This is why the military, despite that embarrassing waste of 20 million dollars known as Project Stargate does not use psychics as an effective means of intelligence gathering — note that I said ‘effective,’ that is, successfully gathering intelligence data more accurately than chance guessing.
To the best of my knowledge, and you may try to prove me wrong if you like, no energy utility company makes use of crystal or pyramid power to supply its customers, potentially inexhaustible sources of energy that would reap immense profits if they were used, and would certainly be a well-guarded secret to those who owned them…if they really worked.
Unlimited energy generated at almost no cost to producer = A powerful & profitable resource!
If prayer and faith could heal the sick and injured, if homeopathy or reiki worked, if quantum healing wasn’t just flapdoodle, they wouldn’t be alternatives to medicine, they wouldn’t even replace the practice of medicine — they would BE medicine, like every other treatment that has proven its worth by actually working.
We’ve been praying, worshiping, waving our hands, giving people the hairy eyeball, and making magic potions for thousands of years…If they really worked as claimed, we wouldn’t need modern medicine!
These things would be supported by both reliable data and valid logic, though perhaps a logic different from those we know, and would not need specious argumentation and bad data to support them.
If the paranormal existed in fact — working, like science, no matter what anyone believed — then the world would be a very different place.
The paranormal would be normal…because it would be a testable, demonstrable part of reality.
…and that is why despite the ubiquity of belief in the paranormal, it remains at the fringes, not the mainstream, of science and technology-driven goods and service industries…
…because in most industries, you can certainly fool people, but not the facts of labor and resources that profitable business requires to turn a profit in selling a product more substantial than wishful thinking and false hope.
- An Interview with Red Tani of the Filipino Freethinkers (randi.org)
- Indian Paranormal Beliefs (prophet666.com)
- Americans’ Beliefs in Paranormal Phenomena (Infographic) (livescience.com)
- Richard Wiseman discusses Paranormality on For Good Reason (randi.org)