Saturday, February 23, 2008

What does Feng Shui mean?

Answer: It means people will believe anything.*

Update: Just a day after posting about the LA Zoo feng shui nonsense, I come across another article on feng shui being used in a Mcdonalds in California. When it comes to ridiculous (and costly) bullshit, I guess California has always been ahead of the curve.

Original Post

I caught this story quite late (it ran about a year ago): Zoo pays Feng Shui expert to aid monkeys.

The LA Zoo was at the time preparing a habitat for some golden monkeys on loan from the Chinese government and included in the budget was a $4,500 fee to a feng shui expert to make sure the monkey cages had good 'Qi'. Some excerpts from the article:

Feng shui is in demand among high-end architects and interior designers, but Beverly Hills-based feng shui expert Simona Mainini said the Los Angeles Zoo's effort may be a first in animal enclosure design.

Is feng shui really in demand in the States? I hope to god it is just among old Asian-Americans and a tiny minority of new age types (which might make up the majority of the Beverly Hills population, though). Aren't there enough stupid beliefs in the States already without having to import more from the East?

"It's very experimental," Mainini said. "We don't have any books on feng shui for monkeys. We just have to assume that Darwin is correct and that there is a connection and what is good for humans is good for monkeys."

Ah yes, just 'experimental'. This ever so rightly implies that feng shui is based on sound theory backed up by thousands of years of empirical evidence. What a pioneer this Mainini person must be.

So can we believe that this a real experiment then? Is she going to rate the quality of life for these monkeys and compare them with monkeys living in a Feng Shuiless environment? And how will she measure the quality of monkey life? Would monkeys living with good feng shui eat better? Would they be less likely to fling feces? (or should they be more likely to fling feces if they are happy? I can see that going both ways.)

Speaking of feces, has Mainini accounted for poo pile distribution when assessing the Qi energy flows within the cages? Maybe the zoo should pay another 5 grand and have her come back once they can account for the placement of these physical objects. If you don' t believe that a pile of shit can affect the feng shui in a room, just try dumping a load anywhere in your office and see how it affects the positive and negative energy flows of your workplace.

Here is one of the key texts on feng shui that I'm sure Mainini is referring to. (yes, it seems to be an actual book). The title seems a bit redundant.

Notice that two of the authors are 'masters'. Oooooooooooohhhhhhhh....

I wonder how many years, nay, decades of intensive study and research into this practice they must have labored through to achieve that title. Elizabeth Moran (last name pronounced with a stress on the first syllable) has yet to become a master, but they needed someone who knew how to read and type.
OK, back to the Master Mainini and her wonderful work at the LA Zoo. I'd like to revisit her last quote in regards to the Darwin reference:

"We just have to assume that Darwin is correct and that there is a connection and what is good for humans is good for monkeys."

Im sure Darwin would be very pleased to see his theories being applied in such scientific ways. Maybe evolutionary biologists should start investigating whether feng shui plays a big role in the evolutionary process? Maybe dinosaurs went extinct because the energy flows in their environment were just out of whack? Maybe it wasn't so much a meteor striking the earth, as it was the bad feng shui caused by the crater itself! Ever thought of that real possibility Mr. Smarty-pants Biologist? Maybe the spotted owls would adjust to the changing environment better if we just dug up and moved a few trees around? Obviously, there is a lot more work to be done for feng shui specialists!

Now I don't really know if what is good for humans is always good for monkeys, but I do know that electric shock therapy is good for getting naughty monkeys to stop doing stupid things, and if it works on monkeys, I'd be willing to give it an 'experimental' try on people like Mainini.

"The viewing building has a Chinese character," said principal architect Charles Mays, who hire Mainini. "We thought it would be more authentic if we went that extra step and made sure it was done with good feng shui."

Ok, include Mr. Charles May in the list of people needing experimental shock therapy. How can someone this idiotic be placed in the role of principal architect of a multi-million dollar project? If you want the building to really be more authentic in a "Chinese character" then just let some Chinese poachers break into the cage, slaughter the monkeys, and sell the body parts to oriental medicine witchdoctors and eat the rest. That's a pretty authentic view of how China has been handling its wildlife for the past few centuries, and would enable us in the West to see the monkeys in their truly natural habitat.

Mainini said she tweaked the plans to maximize the good qi (pronounced chee) [as in 'Cheesus Christ do you people really believe this shit?']. For example, she recommended moving a door on the observation tower or adding a fountain or water feature to "soften, with moisture, the harsh energy" in that area of the tower.

I really wonder just how much work she had to do for that $4,500. Are we to believe that she did anything more than just show up one sunny afternoon, walk around the cage for 5-10 minutes, pull a few of the usual feng shui lines out of her ass, and then rush off to the bank to cash her check? What a sweet scam this whole feng shui thing must be.

Here's another article on this event from Some members of the organization visited an open meeting held by the LA Zoo officials and were able to ask them directly about this bullshit.

Since science seemed to be escaping from the zoo, it was time for a visit from CFI. I was the first community speaker to be heard at the zoo’s March 20 Board of Commissioners meeting and was allowed three minutes to try to convince the commissioners that feng shui wasn’t worth forty-five cents, much less $4,500.

To her credit, one commissioner said she was surprised at hearing this had been approved. The zoo staff member who green-lighted the feng fee was not present to defend him or herself, but another staffer said it was an effort to replicate the cultural aspects of a rural Chinese village where these monkeys are from. “Why not just hire someone to recreate the look of a village,” I asked. “You don’t need all that ‘energy’ mumbo jumbo to make it look the same.”

They seemed to agree, and I got the distinct impression there was at least a hint of embarrassment over the whole affair. We can only hope. . . .

I seriously hope it was more than a hint of embarrassment. It would have been quite entertaining, though, if someone there had tried to defend the decision.

Ive been working on a list for the most ridiculous superstitions that somehow survive in developed countries and I put Feng Shui right at the top. Note that this list is reserved only for beliefs that are just too incredibly stupid for normal people to believe, yet are accepted by a significant percentage of the population.

So yes, if one of your own beliefs is included in this list, it can be counted as empirical evidence that you may be retarded and you might want to look into it.

Here is what I have so far. Let me know if Im missing anything or if the order should be changed.

  1. Feng shui
  2. Astrology/numerology
  3. Fan death
  4. Moxibustion**
  5. Belief that the Star Wars Episode series didn't suck
  6. ABO Blood type/personality theory (blood type is related to personality traits)
  7. spirit 'readings' (communication with spirits, ala John Edward and Slyvia Browne)
  8. Professional Wrestling is real
  9. Scientology
  10. All religions except for the good ones***

* Not sure where this joke originated. Anybody know?

**Although moxibustion works on the same principles as acupuncture, acupuncture is excluded from this list as it has been proven to be an effective placebo, which at least makes it semi-useful.

**The list of Good Religions includes Christianity, Buddhism and Judaism (Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists not yet included, but are encouraged to reapply for acceptance in a few decades. Jehovah Witnesses and Christian Scientists need not reapply)


Anonymous said...

To answer the initial question, it should be obvious that Feng Shui means Large Boobies. Simply do a global substitution in your post and everything makes perfect sense.

Kevin Kim said...

Eh? Good religions?

I'd say Christians taste the best, being largely fatty white meat with a hint of molested child; Hindus are sort of tough and gamy while Buddhists taste like... well, they taste like whatever you happen to be thinking about at the moment.

Muslims taste like gyros.


Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Fan death is real.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

psieve2 said...

Kevin, I think people who sound like you taste like a bull's shit. Christianity is not defined by people whose problems were not offered up to God before they took them into their own hands, flipped out, and molested kids. Tell me what we should think of what Mao and Stalin did. Hitler was a pagan. The big killers of the Inquisition were the Spanish government; whereas the Church let off most. The death and sick behavior count stacks pretty high in the non-Christian camps and they usually aren't Buddhists or Hindus, though, in some countries, they've killed Christians for that religion's not being Asian. Don't be discriminating against any group, even if it's fashionable. You'll be a bigot all the same.

St. Maximillian Kolbe had his place built on the other side of mountains than the city part of Nagasaki, despite the advice of Feng Shui practicioners. Guess which area was not obliterated? Still, they went to help out in distributing food and other needs.