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Want Your Palm Read?

I know I am dating myself, but one of the most memorable lines from any of the hundreds of Bugs Bunny cartoons (which spans over 70 years worth of material) is, while dressed as a “swami”, he asks the antagonist character …

“Do you want your palm read?”

The brute holds out his hand and Bugs proceeds to paint his palm with red paint. Classic stuff for those of us old enough to remember such humor steeped in antiquity.  

As the cartoon world clearly knew back in 1949 that swami’s and palm reading and phrenology (reading “bumps” on the head) and other childish  notions were excellent vehicles to deliver humor, you would think that in modern times, the human race would continue to laugh off the fantasy of  anti-scientific newage such as divination by reading palms.  

Welcome to 21st century China, where ancient superstitions, antiquated habits, prejudices against people with certain blood types or certain last names, any many other forms of pseudoscience are alive and well. So what’s the latest news-making nonsense coming out of China these days?

That’s right … Palm Reading!

Reading the palms of children, to be more specific. According to this Reuters article, in a province in northern China, parents are paying 1200 yuan ($190US) to have their children’s palms read.  According to the reports, these readings can …

“determine the children’s innate intelligence and potential.”

Funny they should use the wording “innate intelligence”, which is the purported vitalistic component of chiropractic. One might dismiss it as a mere coincidence, but the notion that “innate intelligence” exists at all is a column which has been built exclusively for the Parthenon of Woo. Science has can not detect “innate intelligence”, and until someone comes up with a scientifically valid means of doing so, it does not exist.

It is also funny how the counterbalance in the article, a quote from a “pediatric expert”, offers the following retort:  

“This technology remains unaccounted for.”  

How weak. First, its not “technology” at all. It is a combination of mysticism and cold-reading. Second, it is not unaccounted for. Palm reading is well accounted for, and it simply doesn’t work. It is fortune telling. There is no evidence whatsoever for the validity of palm reading.

But this is China, and China is a big place with tons of people and ancient cultures and traditions that will never let go of their ingrained and cherished sacred cows. Take a look at this article for more on the wackiness of Chinese culture.

America and other countries around the world all have their own brands of cultural pseudoscience and woo, but the notion of palm reading strikes a chord of infantile thinking and humor steeped in ridiculousness the likes of which Bugs Bunny would still be proud of today.




1 comment to Want Your Palm Read?

  • radiantmatrix

    until someone comes up with a scientifically valid means of doing so, it does not exist.

    This tickled my inner pedant. Whether or not there is currently a way to measure/observe something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Stars we couldn’t observe before deep-space telescopes were invented existed regardless.

    Wouldn’t it be better to say “until someone comes up with a scientifically valid means of doing so, there’s no reason to believe it exists” or something similar? I’d hate to see the woo-mongers fixate on the original to make the case that ‘scientists think things don’t exist until their science can measure them’…

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