Sunday, February 05, 2006

If you think this is the nadir, it isn't

Just discovered various Indian pseudoscience and superstitions via the Discovery channel.

According to the show and a building contractor interviewed there currently is a craze (the documentary was made in 2004) for what is known as Vaastu homes, that is, houses that have been designed and built according to the tenets of Vaastu. (By the way, the contractor is no Vaastu sympathizer. ) What is Vaastu? Well, think feng shui and it's that. It's about facing the building's entrance east, having a square or rectangular shaped abode, about some cosmic energy flowing through the home with its center having the highest concentration of "vibrations"--that kind of stuff. The end result of faithfully following Vaastu architecture? What else but luck and fortune. Indians are just like the rest of us--greedy and wanting a free lunch. So any superstition to help them along is much appreciated. Any evidence presented to support Vaastu claims? None, save for a testimonial. Can the "energy" that supposedly bathes the earth and gets channeled through one's home be detected and measured by any instrument? Now why do suppose Discovery forgot to ask that of the expert Vaastu architect they interviewed?

Then there was astrology and palm readers. Indians are said to be very much into it. Yaaaawn! Fast forward please.

The most interesting claptrap featured is something called Nadi. According to tradition, ancients had written down biographical details of every single person who has and would ever live. That's everyone, including Socrates, Lao Tze, Moses and Jesus, you, me, our kith and kin and enemies, and our descendants-to-be.

The Nadi leaves, as they are called, are about the size of a 12-inch ruler. On it are supposedly written the facts about the person. Nadi readers have cabinets where these bundles of leaves are stored. To find the leaf of a person one has to first locate the particular bundle in which it is contained. This is done by looking at the client's thumbmark. How the reader uses fingerprints the documentary did not elaborate. To find the specific leaf in the bunch the client is asked questions, sometimes an endless litany of questions. The interrogation it seems can sometimes take more than a hour. (Are your baloney detectors and crap counters going off-scale and clicking like mad already?) When the correct leaf is finally found the reader begins, well, reading what's on it to the client.

One Japanese who traveled to India to have a reading was so amazed when the reader began telling him his profession, his wife's name, his marital problem, etc. An Australiam woman who's now moved to India just as well vouches for the accuracy of the reading. She's now writing a book on Nadi.

Haven't these two enthusiasts ever heard of white-hot reading*?

I did my maths (please verify) and computed how much storage space it would take to store all the Nadi leaves for just those of us who are still around. Assuming each Nadi leaf is 30 x 2 x 0.1 centimeters and assuming 6 billions souls, it turns out that the whole mass of 6 billion Nadi leaves would need a cabinet that's 30 centimeters deep by 2 meters high by 60 kilometers long! That's 36,000 cubic meters of storage space or the equivalent of 530 40-footer container vans. Do the 100 or so Nadi readers actually have that much leaves in their modest homes? Even now I can't wait for the ad hoc rationalizations they have ready up their sleeves. (For starters: Each leaf stores the information for 10, or 100, or 1000 individuals--digitally compressed I suppose. Various sheaves of leaves have been lost, or are with other readers, or are archived in Shiva's spaceship which is currently orbitting Planet Xenu.)

And how did the documentary treat this Nadi bullshit? Not a single skeptic was brought in to critique it. There was not even a single statement uttered by the narrator that would elicit reservation on the part of the viewer. We are thus led to believe--not least via the (sincere) testimonials--that Nadi in fact works, that it can accurately provide you facts about yourself. Expect the India tourism board to be all smiles.

Discovery has been getting on my nerves lately. Last week they featured a reconstruction of a haunting. A family had moved into some house which they snapped up because it was cheap. Soon thereafter the children began experiencing poltergeists. A psychic and ghost hunters were invited to check the place out. Of course they found ghosts. A priest was later asked to bless/exorcise the place. The entire film was trash from start to finish. It looked as it if it was trying to outdo The Exorcist. It had blankets flying, books being shot out of shelves, beds jumping, a channeller--who's been bound to a chair--growling and taunting in devilish ways. Every single minute of it was devoted to pushing the viewers toward belief in ghosts and the supernatural. Was any skeptic asked for his opinion? Was Joe Nickell of CSICOP approached? No.

And what's on Discovery for the rest of February? Dragons! And more ghosts on the loose.
I'm sellling the tv.


* Ok, so I just made that up. I say this Nadi interrogation is just blatant information gathering, with the reader directly asking for various facts about the client on the pretext of zeroing in on his/her leaf. All the while the reader is committing to memory details and inferences that he'll later throw back at the client. And who knows what various hot and cold reading techniques Nadi readers might be employing.


Bronze Dog said...

Are your baloney detectors and crap counters going off-scale and clicking like mad already?

clickclickclickclickclickclickclick clickclickclickclickclickclickclick

Indian feng shui. If these things were just hypotheses/theories about interior design aesthetics, I wouldn't have a problem at all. A well arranged, beautiful home can probably provide a nice psychological boost. But once you get into health claims, be prepared for both my logic and my venom.

Anonymous said...

We are making a Documentary On Naadi Shastra. Our documentary explores various angles of Nadi Shastra and therefore along with the traditional aspect of the subject, we also want to look at scientific explanations / rationales, if any. The documentary would see it from different perspectives namely the skeptic, the believer and the follower.

We would appreciate if you could let us know if you would be interested in sharing your thoughts on the subject with us. Our end objective is to make the research a part of the program, interview you and create a compelling program that is unbiased and neutral. In the event that you do know of others who could probably contribute to the above, please do let us know.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best wishes

Tarun Revoo
Jr. Asst. Director
Blue Mango Films

Anonymous said...

Dude.. come to India for a personalized reading. As it is said, to experience heaven/hell you must die yourself!
Nadi readers don't 'take out' information from seekers. What they only ask for is a simple yes/no answer to help them proceed further in identifying the desired leaf! And only those who are 'destined' to have a naadi reading get an appointment! so you can assume that only lucky people get a leaf-matched!

Anonymous said...

You seem to be very biased against Indian and Hindu stuff. You think you are very scientific but in fact you have a very dogmatic way of thinking. Indian and Hindu science goes back to the beginning of time. Modern day science is only rediscovering what the Vedas have known for thousands of years. Your present thinking capacity
is incapable of grasping the infinite ancient knowledge of India. Denying the truth does not destroy it.

Anonymous said...

Boss...dont give that crappy calculation sof there are lots and lots of such "nadi" types and readers..distributed over various parts of India (like the bhrigu shastras or the siva nadi readers)..and you would reeely be lucky if you are able to find ur nadi patra or the palm leaves with any such astrologer .... Do some more research on ur subject and then give gyan!! Or rather come to India ... and then you would realise that ...aah forget it.. one cant write or explain such things! you should realise it or born in a country which has all kinds of proof for being the first civilizations of the world!!!

Xhevvia said...

One day 'you' (maybe not this lifetime, and right now you may think that this physical body is 'you' and what's unseen is unreal until you 'see' it by proofs) may realize that the ancient wisdom is more real and truthful than this world we are perceiving. Many people for centuries exploit, misuse the name and knowledge of astrology for selfish means, until it has a bad rep. Astrology was once a tool for growth towards spirituality and enlightenment (East and West), freeing one from the bondage of karma (e.g. past life bad deeds and seeds of actions that ripens as bad events, bad luck in present life) Astrology is a study of karma- timely past life's deeds that ripen into this life. When the body dies, similar to changing clothes, the soul wears a new body- a vehicle to realize the soul. The ancient 'seers' whose consciousness is at a much higher level while living in a technology-free world, who can see into the past and future, for them, life is never a gamble. One can 'see' how an action create a reaction like a ripple effect, rippling out into the universe and back forth. Life as in a chain of lifetimes, is growth and development you 'will' towards or willingly take part in this existence, actively directing your energy and mind into your personal evolution. Definitely, for those who do not 'believe' in past lives and future rebirths, this is a waste of time. I feel that healthy doubt is good. Yet, keep an open mind, not rejecting something that does not sounds right or resonate with you right now, do not believe it entirely either, keep in view until you are truly sure of it in your guts, mind and heart. For you may be rejecting, what if, this is the cosmic truth? (science itself is partial truth, revealing itself in bits and pieces) and you sow the seeds of not 'seeing' the truth by rejecting, blinded by the physics of life, trapped in your 5 senses. People who are born handicapped is not by accident or mere chance and luck. There's an underlying law and workings of this great infinite universe not by human standards and each one of us will come to realize this.

Anonymous said...

You have not done a nadi reading yourself, if you do, you may not be saying all these. There are more than 12 chapters in nadi reading, represents the 12 houses in astrology. Maybe you should have a reading done before you write your thoughts about it. Skeptics are brain-closer who utilize less than 10% of the brain? and only using the left brain, because intuition is of the right brain

saravana martian said...

this blogger has written about nadi astrology without knowing about it. nadi means in search of . so nadi leaves are available only for those who are in search of nadi leaves. so only limited number of nadi leaves are available for people who are really interested in nadi astrology.nadi leaves are not available for all 6 billion should not talk about nadi astrology without knowimg it. millions of orginal ancient leaves are availble in southern india well preserved in saraswathy mahal library. ancient leaves are preserved in library and it dulplicate copies are given to the nadi astrologers for nadi prediction. originally nadi predictions are written in some other medium few 100 years back . because of islamic invasion it was brought to southern india and written in tamil language in this palm leaves, i challenge any o ne who who visit nadi astrologer in kanchipuram to test its authenticity. please dont speak anything wrong about nadi astrolgy without knowing its history

saravana martian said...

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click those link in the left side and get free nadi astrology