Shiny rocks versus shots of bourbon – psychobabble smackdown

Ye gods.

Clicked on something accidentally on I should be more careful.

While I appreciate the beauty of crystalline structures and am occasionally awed by the self-organizing effects of resonance in systems of oscillators that communicate with sound or electromagnetic radiation (or analogous macroscopic bio- or eco- or socio-systems), I’m sick to the teeth of pseudo-scientific screeds like the one linked above that use the word “energy” where they really mean “feelings” and spew 34 types of hogwash in order to set up a buzzing hypnotic drone in the language center designed to make people lose whatever judgment they might have that would prevent them from clicking a PayPal button and getting sent a handful of shiny pebbles for $50 or $100 on the off-chance that if they learn how to hold, look at, talk to, or think at the pebbles right, the pebbles might help them not be such losers.

The cranial lasagna we use for brains is, in fact, infinitely hackable. The weaknesses we have for succumbing to the cognitive equivalents of optical illusions is a constant source of joy and/or sorrow, depending on your level of compassion and/or whether you’re the victim. But hacking the lasagna will only make you think you can fly. It won’t make you fly. Failure to distinguish that little nuance can give you the happiest moment of your life–albeit possibly the last moment of your life.

Fucking with people’s language centers is a great way of prying up layers of their lasagna and inserting your own little maggots. If you speak someone’s language, you’re at least a third of the way there. If you can convince them to give you some time to talk to them, if they’ll take a few minutes to pay attention to a message you say or write, that’s another third. That remaining third? That’s the rhythm you set up on the strings of the web that tells the spider at the center that you’re one of its kind, that you’re here to mate, that you’re not prey or a threat….

Get in, do your business, and get out. The package you leave has to be viable, but that’s just practice. Trial and error is a valid strategy here.

I suspect there is significant benefit to being able to manipulate your emotional state using shiny pebbles as foci for your imagination. Bliss is a healing thing, counteracting the literally physically damaging aspects and psychological reprogramming effects of stress and fear. (Tendency to anxiety disorders is actually a survival trait in situations where a lowered fight/flight threshold will get you out of trouble, but it’s not very helpful in a society where there’s no place to run and beating the shit out of people who bug you or startle you will just land you in jail.) If shiny pebbles and autohypnosis help you get there, more power to you. So to speak.

But for To-Who-It-May-Concern’s sake, do not encourage this scam artist by sending him $50 for a shiny rock. Any shiny rock will do. For that matter, a shot of bourbon is beautiful and shiny and looking at it can make you happy. Plus you can drink it, and that makes you happy too. And costs less than $50. A whole bottle costs less than $50. That is also beautiful.

If you send me $50 so I can buy a bottle of bourbon, that will make me happy and give me a warm feeling. The warm feeling you get from giving me a warm feeling may also make you happy, but I make no guarantees, as that would be scientifically unethical.

The scientific method suggests that we test that empirically. If, say, thirty or more people (so as to be guaranteed of being statistically valid) were to send me $50 each that I could spend on bottles of bourbon, those people could then participate in a blind poll and we could tally their self-reported levels of happiness afterwards, and then we could publish a paper and allow others to attempt to duplicate our results (by setting up pools of thirty or more people to send me $50 each to buy bottles of bourbon) and review and refine the methodology.

That, my friend, is what science looks like. It does not at all resemble shiny rocks that someone has labeled “psychotronic generators”.


May 6, 2008 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  


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