Like I mentioned a few weeks ago, Ashley and I have been watching Penn & Teller: Bullshit! on DVD. This week we rented the second season, and there was an episode devoted to debunking and ridiculing various aspects of the New Age movement. A lot of the show was spent in Sedona, Arizona, a Mecca for New-Agers because it is supposedly the site of over twenty mystical vortexes.
Yeah, mystical vortexes. Not the observable, testable, quantifiable kind of vortex — the kind that results from the spiral motion of a fluid. A guy who has written books favorable to the New Age movement, and who also claimed to be a graduate from MIT, was asked to define a Sedona-type vortex. And he said, “To me, a vortex is . . .” — and it didn’t really matter what he said after that.
How is it a definition if it begins with “to me”? What if I said, “To me, a galaxy is the secretion of the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals used as a base for ointments and shoe polish”? Obviously I’d be a moron.
Definitions are definitive. That’s why we call them “definitions” and not “interpretations.” If there were such a thing as the Sedona vortexes, there would be a real, concrete, agreed-upon explanation of what they are and what they do and how we know. There isn’t. Instead, there’s just MIT graduates who ought to fucking know better struggling to define non-existent phenomena by saying “To me, a vortex is . . .”
New Agers also like to talk about energy. Life energy, spiritual energy, the energy harnessed and focused and magnified by pyramids and crystals and shit like that. They don’t mean energy in a physical sense, the ability to do work, the sort of energy Einstein was talking about. That kind of energy can be observed, and measured, and defined. The energy the guys in the tinted glasses and tie-dye shirts who always smell like weed are talking about doesn’t exist. But they rely on the confusion between the real energy and the chi and chakra sort of energy in the minds of many people to convince the gullible that things like astral projection and psychokinesis and reincarnation are not only possible but downright commonplace.
That’s just a dirty trick. It’s no wonder people hate hippies so much.