You’re foolin’ yourselves

This would be great if only it wasn’t a completely disingenuous sham.

by Mat Koehler

I’m always fascinated by the gullibility of mankind. It seems people believe promises long before they consider rationale. This is why you get chain e-mails that promise dancing apparitions on your computer monitor if you forward the message to 20 people.

This idea also feeds all the scam artists on earth, whether they are Kevin Trudeau, L. Ron Hubbard or Bill O’Reilly. Apparently, misinformation is popularized faster than the truth nowadays. Jeez, even the absurd theory of Intelligent Design has gained acceptance.

Some fads of naïvety refuse to disappear. Horoscopes and astrology, for example, entertain and astound some of the people in my age bracket. And by some of the people, I mean only girls.

Really, though, women’s magazines are notorious for staffing horoscope writers, or “sweeping sweepers of generalities that attract subscribers,” as I like to call them.

If men’s magazines had similar sections that gave our “food outlook” instead of relationship advice, we might be avid readers as well. So I don’t think it’s a female-only issue (such as the inability to park a car).

The point is these meaningless little fortunes are expanding the world of gullible peoples to include psychics and mysticism as viable methods of self-discovery. This would be great if only it wasn’t a completely disingenuous sham.

Modern astrology is completely different than its original tenets (which had 13 signs, not 12), and besides, isn’t it a little absurd to base our whole personality and destiny on the time of year it was when we exited the womb?

Professional psychics have less to go on when they mislead customers, but even subtle clues, such as clothing, voice quality and level of attractiveness can give a “clairvoyant” enough fodder to riff on for hours. Remember, they’ve practiced their vague observances on tons of people for a long, long time – they know how to lead someone on.

If you want to blow some money on the entertainment value of this kind of thing, be my guest. Just don’t fall for its one-dimensional allure and get hooked.

The late, great Carl Sagan once wrote that “Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep insights can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

If you apply this to your life, I guarantee you will be a smarter, more cognizant person.

You might even save some money when you give those 1 (900) psychic numbers a rest.

Mat Koehler welcomes comments at [email protected].