It’s not particularly hard to notice that there’s a large demographic of people that are not feeling well, physically or mentally. It’s a very, very receptive audience. After all, who would not like to feel better? The ultimative, unbeatable value proposition. Right before “making my life easier”.
Add to that the great mental pressure, stress and everything we face on a daily basis, and the target demographic just expanded to 95% of the population.
It’s really just a matter of time until someone tries to earn cash with some business case or product. Some are valid, though there’s a large amount of snake oil being sold.
A lot of companies make a shitload of money with questionable products and services that can’t withstand any scientific testing. The defensive argument that “not everything can be scientifically proven” is their last defense. Instead of helping us to understand in scientific terms why their product works and helping mankind as a whole by working together with scientists, they create a parascientific explanation that uses fragments and terms they read or heard somewhere. These arguments can be debunked in mere minutes and reduced to what they are, frauds.
Good example: John R. Brinkley. If it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t..
As another interlude, belief systems, religions are closely tied to narcissism. So watch out for those guys. Even in general, actually.
Being polite, tolerant and having an open mind, it is almost impossible to talk to these people and pushing for the scientific method to be applied. Or just basic skepticism.
And this is where we enter the deep realms of the human mind, willing to believe, craving for it even. And, belief is contagious. Spiritual groups, sects, organized religion.. even the dotcom hype was fundamentally built on beliefs, not rational evidence. These beliefs tend to collapse sooner or later and leave large craters. And what they promised (a belief is almost always closely tied to a promise) turns into a mountain of bullshit. But instead of learning.. off we go to believe something else.
It is only when belief is underlined by rational arguments or strictly spiritual and focused inwards that it does not create harm or trouble of some kind over the course of time. As soon as it is organized, capitalized and put on the same level as science or denounces the scientific method as a way to silence them, things go dark, quickly.
Belief can also make us do things that are essentially positive and worth striving for. But from my point of view, there is far more harm that sprung from the beliefs and manipulation thereof, than otherwise.
For example.. I just recently came across an organization that holds congressses with thousands of visitors where prominent conspiracy theorists get a platform under the protection of proclaimed free speech or censorship, because the press wouldn’t publish their stories. Those people are closely related to the world of esoterica and organized belief in the form of sects. They are sometimes the same people. They are trying to nurture some kind of parallel society. Parascience.
It is especially tempting for us to form empathy with individuals or groups who proclaim that they are being silenced or otherwise mistreated. It’s human nature. And a cause to fight for something.. for the good and the wrong reasons. It’s easy to join a fight as it gives meaning and an answer to one fundamental question about existence. Also a very prominent target group.
Humans can do one thing quite well, which is fighting for their group even if the reasons are wrong, masked in manipulated belief or fear or flat out economical and egoistic. Anyone remember the crusades, colonialism, World War One, Two, ..? There was no war that sprung from a rational, non egoistic argument, ever. All the good things belief has achieved pale in comparison.
We thought we left the Middle Ages behind us, but just proclaiming enlightenment doesn’t change the fundamental human nature on a global scale. For a brief moment in history, science was globally accepted as the harbinger of utopia. A golden age, if you will. And then it dawned on the 98% that don’t have a PhD, that even science will not be able to solve all of their problems. The belief that science can fix everything is declining and the resulting vacuum needs to be filled. Your cue, guy who sells a piece of copper that deflects energies flowing in the wrong direction or removing chalk from tap water by adding an electro magnet. And so on.
Now let me add a disclaimer: if you believe that you can gain energy from the cosmos by meditating and it makes you feel better, that is perfectly fine. It’s not the cosmos but your own mind and body and we don’t quite know how it works, but that’s dandy. You are essentially working on yourself and working out, mentally. Assuming you can get more energy by sticking a crystal on your forehead however is wrong. And it’s especially wrong that you assume you can replace working on yourself with buying a shortcut of some sort. And it’s even worse that someone is making cash from this well meant aspiration of yours.
I don’t think that people offering esoteric services or products are evil or try to knowingly rip someone off. Most of them have a genuine belief that what they do works.
And that’s exactly the problem.