Oct 21, 2011

The Secret Theory

"When in doubt, kick the ball out". That was what I heard being shouted out at from the elderly retired in-need-of-a-shave man standing by the sidelines. This man was better known to us as the junior football team coach. I used to be quite a good little footballer, until I reached the grand old age of twelve. Better to retire whilst on top. Although my footballing career may have ended, if it had even begun is arguable, my skepticism was only just starting to flourish.

The word "energy" has been used in many ways, and has nowadays found itself thrown about rather often. Reminds me of that cheap plastic ball that I used to kick about the football field in my golden days. The word has even been escalated to become somewhat of a secret word, a conspiracy which has been hidden from the public for generations and has now been unveiled in the form of a book, not surprisingly titled: The Secret. And what is a book these days without a nice DVD to complete the package. One would think $30 (not including shipping) is a small price to pay for a truth that has evaded the radar of the majority of the human race for so many generations.

The theory as it goes, looks something like this:
The human body, just like everything else, consists of atoms. Atoms, in turn, are a bunch of sub-atomic particles comprised of energy. Science, in a nutshell.
Now for the fun part; humans have, and are, affected by two types of energy, positive and negative. Each of the two affects your life in a certain way. Surround yourself with positive energy and you become happy, negative and you become miserable. Not as scientific as the first part, I must say.

The picture should be a bit clearer by now. This is probably the most popular version of the theory at hand, although similar variations are on offer. Choose your own version, sit back, and make your own smile.

This may all seem poetic, a nice Saturday afternoon thought, or a motivation for those all so encouraging morning social media quotes, the rise and shine type which, I may add, get on a totally opposite start to the day than they intend to. But is there any truth to it, at all?

First of all, I'd like to take a look at the terminology. What is positive energy, or negative energy? And is there neutral energy? This terminology is purely incorrect. Energy is not charged. It has also been proposed that the polarity suggested is not that of an electric-like charge but a reflection on the effect this energy has on humans; if it makes you feel good it is positive, bad it's negative. That definition is plausible, on the surface of it, but it opens up yet another question and that is of the influence of energy on human feelings.

Here arises the need to differentiate between energy (be it positive or negative) and its effect on ones well-being. The fact that energy exists (in it's very different state than proposed) is not enough to assert that it affects the life of a living being in any way, and certainly not in means of will-power, telepathy or any other conveying contraption of luminous particles a vivid mind may conjure.

It is not a wonder why it would not seem sensible to plug in your home computer onto one of your less used body cavities in hope that your inner energy can power electric appliances. To do so would be committing to an assumption that the energy of the atoms of which your body consists can, somehow, spring into action and become an electric current, or electric "energy". Both are called energy. but they are not the same thing, not even remotely. More-so, if that were true then why wouldn't the atoms of the computer itself power the device? That would be an even bigger feat than the previous body-cavity trick indeed. The energy within the sub-atomic particles are bound by nuclear forces, and need a great deal more than wishful thinking to unbound them. Don't you think North Korea or Iran would have found out if there were any easier way? I think so.

The preposition that this energy that is withheld within an atom can be broadcasted  around the universe is, in itself, a damnation of the structure of the universe. Against the nature of the structure of the atom. If it were so, then the atomic structure itself would have to collapse, spelling a swift end to the universe as we know it. Seen as the universe is still functioning, evidently as you are reading this then it still is, then that can't be the case. This fallacious assumption put forward by advocates of this mystical theory is that it is not only true, but also wise to act upon. This in itself is a grave teaching indeed, and that is putting it mildly.

There does not exist any credible scientific research or study on the subject, not any I have come across. Yet this fact is somehow put forward as a counter weight on the side of this mysticism, not against it. This again is an insult to both reason and rationality. The reason this there is a lack of insight on the subject does not imply that one should remain agnostic towards it, no more than one should be agnostic about the tooth fairy or the Loch Ness monster, both of which also haven't been subject to close investigation. The tooth fairy, the Loch Ness monster and the theory of this life-changing energy are simply not regarded too highly by science. Nor is there any willingness to fund such nonsense research, and I do not propose any rational funding agency would be willing to invest in any, so let's not get anyone's hopes up.

There remains one argument that may be worthy of a scribble or two, and that is personal experiences which are put forward to assert the theory. People with far-fetched stories to tell.

When I first got my own bedroom, I wasn't aware that being alone in bed would trigger a hidden, albeit slight, fear of the darkness. I also had a fear, this one I knew about, of large-sized, snarling dogs. The root of that goes back to an even earlier childhood memory of a horse-sized dog that waddled into the back garden just as I had thought I'd mastered the intricate works of riding a bicycle without any clip-on balance wheels to aid me. I did not know at the time that this particularly large specie of dogs was a very tame and pet-like one, and that it wouldn't have harmed me even if I'd petitioned it to do so. But tell that to a scared stiff five year-old. Back to the dark bedroom, under the covers and about to sleep. I was overcome by fear when, what turned out to be nothing but a shadow, seemed like a large dog with glaring eyes and stained teeth was staring me dead in the eye without a flinch. It was certainly ready to pounce. It would seem naive of me to use this experience, as real as it seemed at the time, to support a claim that a large blood-thirsty dog used to live among the dusty coats that my my father had so kindly hung on the inside of my bedroom door. Was the dog real? It was to me, for an instance at least. In reality, my mind was playing a trick, using it's techniques aided by thousands of years of evolutionary training. The human mind is fully equipped to construct images, it is easy  to mistake a shadow for a dog, but it is very hard to mistake a stationary dog for a shadow. All you need is a dog-like shadow and the brain will fill in the missing parts.
Children often have imaginary friends, which are real to them. It has been reported that, in some cases, children can accurately describe their imaginary friends who, clearly, are non-existent. Children grow out of this, fortunately.

Not every story thrown about, mixed with shadows, is worthy of it's own theory, and that is no "secret".
When in doubt it's always wise to "kick the ball out".