Sometimes in the world of Woo, people will call upon pseudosciences or fantasies by introducing another pseudoscience or fantasy to help bolster their claims. For example, we’ve come across people who believe, and have written books about Bigfoot (Bigfeet) being a race of time-shifting extra terrestrials. We are also very familiar with people who consult “psychics” that claim to communicate with “ghosts”. There are many such instances of these combinations of nonsense. As Joe Nickell once said to me, explaining an unknown by invoking another unknown is a no-no in logic and critical thinking.
The practice of combining two or more pseudosciences or “paranormal” phenomena, or some combination of both in which one is used to enhance or reinforce the other is known as Compound Nonsense.
The latest example of compound nonsense is this headline form China: School Turns To Feng Shui For Exorcism.
The misguided people that are in charge of a local school system in China are so convinced that that the unrelated deaths of two of their students is the result of bad energy and other-worldly influences that they have brought in Feng Shui masters to chase away any ghosts that may have been responsible for such losses of life. So we can now add the Feng Shui/Exorcism story to our growing list of examples of compound nonsense.
In seriousness, there is nothing sadder than the actual death of human beings. What arguably comes closest is when the living react to a human’s death by embracing woo and magic.
I understand that these actions are the result cultural pressures. They say that these are superstitious people and their fears and concerns are rooted in their beliefs. I also believe these people in charge of the school are really trying to do a service to the people of their community.
But there is an irony that is impossible to ignore when an institution of learning effectively promotes pseudoscience by re-enforcing popular myths and superstitions.