New Age Nonsense: The Rise of Spirit Science
For those rebellious free-thinkers out there who wish to leave behind the stuffy and often disagreeable confines of organized religion there are a surprising number of alternatives. One of these is the recent off-shoot of New Age beliefs known as Spirit Science. As its name suggests Spirit Science hopes to marry the scientific understanding we human beings have gained over the centuries with various claims of the paranormal and spiritual.
In this article I want to talk about how laughably ridiculous the claims of Spirit Science believers are and how most of the things they say are a combination of buzzword word-salad and meaningless twaddle occasionally sprinkled with scientific terms. The point is not to insult believers who have been taken in by this woo. The point is to show the beliefs for what they are: contrived platitudes, misinterpretations of real science, and wishful thinking (occasionally with some conspiracy theories mixed in for good measure).
Things Spirit Scientists Say
For this article there are going to be multiple sources including websites, forums, and probably youtube videos. First off, however, I want to give the reader a general idea of the kind of things proponents of Spirit Science say. Here is an excerpt from an article at thespiritscience.net. The article is by Ray Kamille but he's quoting a friend of his from Facebook named Kevin (clearly an expert in the spirit-science field!).
“When we place our focus on our desires and the outcome we desire, its exactly, and I mean, EXACTLY what the Universe will deliver.”
What we see demonstrated in this platitude is something called the Law of Attraction, which is basically that if you focus your mind entirely on a thing you have a better chance of getting that thing in reality. It is not merely a matter of those who try to get something and focus their efforts on getting it have a better chance. No, no. What the Law of Attraction is about is literal "mind over matter." Before even acting differently, apparently just thinking differently somehow influences actual objective reality and you can bend the universe to your will by the power of thought.
This sort of wishful thinking is, of course, a conman's greatest wet dream. Imagine how much money one can make as a motivational speaker if all one has to say is, “think it, dream it, get it!” or some other slogan and people who believe in this Law will lap it up. And indeed there are plenty of New Age Spirit Science enthusiasts who make a living trying to convince people that thoughts have the power to change reality.
So you'd think, naturally, given it's name is Spirit Science, that believers have some sort of objectively verifiable scientific evidence right? They have research showing that the Law of Attraction works or at least that thinking and focusing on a thing (and focus and thought alone, without action) increases the odds of obtaining it above that of chance, right? Well actually no. I mean the platitude I quoted above is true in-so-far as if you focus on obtaining a thing through actions (and your actions are a result of your thoughts) you probably stand a better chance of getting it (though this vastly depends on the goal you are trying to obtain).
In this worldview the Universe is entitled to give you what your heart most desires as long as you maintain focus and bend the Universe to your will.
Here's another quote from the same article:
“You are the MOTION of light, the presence of it. There is no need to return to source, you are the result of it.”
Here we see how Spirit Science disregards the actual meanings of words and the actual understanding that science gives us to make shit up and sound incredibly stupid. Here were are seeing that human beings are the motion of light, and the presence of it. Not only are neither of these remotely accurate but they are also two very different things. The motion of light is just what it sounds like: photons bouncing around, moving from the place to place. I'm not remotely sure what the author means by human beings being the “presence of light” unless he's conflating two meanings of the word light.
Either way human beings are not made up of light in any sense. I think—and I'm just giving them the benefit of the doubt here—that they're referring to the fact that human beings are made of stardust—that the elements we are composed of were cooked in stars that then exploded to form the sun, our earth, and eventually our bodies. If human beings were made of photons (light) we would be massless particles.
When they mention the Source they are referring to a New Agey sort of idea of Heaven. The Source being the place from which both consciousness and the Universe itself and all of reality stem. In essence what this person is saying is akin to, “We are not separate from the Universe. We are whole. We are not missing anything,” or at least that's how I tend to interpret it.
Spirit Science Makes You Special
Spirit Science relies on making the person reading them feel as if they've got it all figured out, are ahead of the curve, and everyone else is a drooling zombie joylessly going through the motions of life with no real autonomy. They brush off things like school, government, TV, cell phones, and the internet as tools the powers that be use to keep us all slaves in the dark. Meanwhile the bright folks who subscribe to Spirit Science have all this stuff about psychically controlling the Universe with mere thoughts figured out.
Some New Agers and Spirit Science believers even see themselves as special, labeling themselves Indigo children, claiming to be in contact with aliens or spirit beings or higher consciousness levels. Of course they offer no evidence for any of this. They spout off absolutely meaningless gobbledygook and then stand back and pretend the mouth-turd they've just vomited is made of gold.
From our same article:
“You are princes and princesses of light, woven so tightly together by thought they often weave together into long fabrics and intricate patterns we sometimes call human beings.”
There is a meaningless reference to a power structure (princes and princesses) while the rest of the article denounces such systems of authority. There is this assertion that people are made of light, which is horse shit of the dumbest kind. There is the unsubstantiated and scientifically unfounded assertion that people are woven together (how does one weave light together?) by the power of thought.
The implication is that we're all special and you know what that means: that none of us really are. But hey, it makes for a good selling point, compared to other religions telling us we're all fallen sinners or that all life is suffering.
Bro, Do You Even Science?
So where does the science in Spirit Science even come in? Well from my research into the subject there are two main sources where science enters in. First off there is quantum physics, which is endlessly misunderstood by the general public and thus manipulated and misinterpreted by Spirit Science users (and woo peddlers like Deepak Chopra). Secondly there's bunk science, such as research done by the Institute of Noetic Sciences.
It is not that the goals of folks like Institute of Noetic Sciences aren't laudable. Proving that consciousness can interact with the physical world in some unforeseen and perhaps even “paranormal” way would be an astounding find that would change the way we look at the brain forever. The issue comes from the lack of true scientific rigor and proper experimental controls/analysis. If a genuine link could be shown that suggested thoughts could really effect reality in some way we would see a lot of genuine scientists jumping on the bandwagon each trying to be the first or among the first to genuinely prove psychokinesis or telepathy.
But the lack of rigorous vetted science in their favor won't stop Spirit Science advocates from posting articles in which they cite a study that they do not link to and which I could not find. Searching the Consciousness Project brings up IONS which is just the Institute of Noetic Sciences.
The Spirit Science Match Game
I encourage everyone reading this to research New Age beliefs and Spirit Science if you think I have been too harsh or too dismissive. Nearly all of their claims rely on misunderstanding some principle of science and the blatant and often hilarious misuse of scientific terminology. To prove my point I'm going to put you through a little bit of a quiz.
The purpose of the quiz is to see if you can match a quote from a real proponent of Spirit Science with the made-up nonsense I'm going to conjure up for the purpose of the quiz.
Which of these are real Spirit Science quotes?
view quiz statistics
Spirit Science, almost more so than the New Age beliefs it grew out of, relies on meaningless buzzwords, gobbledygook and a willingness to selectively reinterpret or misinterpret scientific findings. Often times it involves saying things that are patently false and obviously stupid like saying that human beings are made of light. Frequently words like "frequency," "resonate," "quantum," and "vibration" are misused and sloppily thrown in to make things sound science-y or sophisticated when they are utterly meaningless or ill-defined.
It is not out of malice that I poke fun at these beliefs but as a public service to those who have not encountered them yet. Don't be taken in by science-y jargon paired with lovely self-help platitudes. When an article says that science or a new study has proved or suggested something actually try to find the study and determine if the source is a reputable scientific source or not. If indeed there is a proper scientific source see if the source actually supports the article's stipulations and make sure that you're not dealing with a lone crackpot scientists. Remember that science is a collaborative process, one single study does not prove anything.
Sure it'd be nice to believe that I can wish things into my life: a new car, a Korean popstar for a wife, and a better career. But such thought, without action, is just wishful thinking and the belief that your wishes are going to supernaturally come true is a delusion. There is absolutely no empirical scientific evidence that the Universe gives a single solitary fuck about your thoughts or that you are a special snowflake of light woven through the quantum crystalline chakra of vibrational out of body dream power.
Spirit Science is New Age nonsense but don't take my word for it truth-seekers. Investigate it for yourselves.