Saturday, November 11, 2006

TODAYonline: The Gongfu Scientist

*Wince wince* I do not mind the gongfu part so much because everyone is entitled to do what they want with their bodies (I'm ambivalent on whether one should be able to sell oneself into slavery but I generally support euthanesia).

But what was truely flabergasting was the feng shui bit and the part where she is asked "Are Western science and fengshu truly compatible"?

Her response?
I don't think there's any inconsistency between science and fengshui at all. It's just that fengshui acts on intangible energy and science can't explain or measure qi. It's wrong to say fengshui is unscientific as, to me, science is about formulated, systematic knowledge attained via empirical means — that is, experimentation, observations, so on. Fengshui knowledge has been attained through 5,000 years of observation and recording — 5,000 years of empirical evidence!

Let's deal with what's wrong with the question first. Simply put it's a false dicothomy to imply that there is a "western science" as opposed to an "eastern science" or an "african science" or whatever. The scientific theories of electromagnatism are probably true regardless of how discovers it or determines it. Otherwise, I would like to know what the differences are.

Why science is science is as precisely because "science is about formulated, systematic knowledge attained via empirical means" so it doesn't matter where something is developed or conceived of as long as it scientific.

And that's why she descends into what I would consider woo with regards to fengshui. Science is a method and methodology, observations mean nothing without explainations which is what theories are. And one of the core aspects of science must be that it is falsifiable and make some form of prediction. Other auxillary aspects is that it ought to be repeatable.

Therefore it is a total and utter cop out to simply say that "[i]t's just that fengshui acts on intangible energy and science can't explain or measure qi". That is a total and utter cop out and totally wrong in science. Simply put, the scientific consensus acknowledges the existance of dark matter because it is the only possible outcome for reconciling the anomolous speed of the spin of galaxies with the current Big Bang theory. Or to rephase it, if there's something there, science will investigate it.

Similarly until there is a demonstration that fengshui actually works, there is no point in postulating in these "mysterious energies". And think about it, this would totally confound everything we know about energies in our current knowledge and would be worth at least a Nobel where's the research and published articles?

At the heart of fengshui's claim is that by arranging your furniture you can affect your life. Some of it is pure commonsense and psychology e.g. not allow your dinig room to face the toilet or sleeping under a sloping wall where the gradient approaches you. Or even ensuring that all employees must pass their boss's office on the way to work. But the rest of it is simply pure woo.




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