New age main criticisms

1 – Science abuse

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From a general perspective

The notions of truth, scientific reality and classical physics are disregarded within the New Age movement. Einstein’s theories of relativity and quantum physics are abused and distorted.

Under its appearance of tolerance and ‘love’, New Age ingeniously worships the Ego. Its negative effects on ethics, personal responsibility and even education have been devastating so far.

Despite the extensive use of the phrase “Research has shown…” New Age teachings fall under scientific, philosophical and spiritual deception.

 


No truth really.

Morten Tolboll, in his article ‘New Age and pseudo-science’, said: “New Age wallows itself in the philosophical viewpoints of relativism and subjectivism; that is: New Age considers conceptions such as good and evil, true and false, beautiful and ugly, as something we have created ourselves, and which therefore don’t exist objectively. These are rejected as premodern superstition, as an expression of old-thinking. And if truth is something we have created ourselves, then there isn’t any objective criterium to decide what is true. All ideas are equally true, and therefore anything goes.

The paradox is, that New Age is supposed to be based on spirituality, where spirituality traditionally has emphasized that the Ego is man’s biggest problem. But New Age has precisely not examined the Ego’s (the inner thinker’s) ingenious ways to use thought-distortions in order to defend itself. Individually we have namely created a large scale self-image, which in a quite high degree is based on assumptions. This self-image we almost continuously defend, by filtrating the impressions we receive from the world. We want to be in peace with our self-images, and quite conveniently we therefore have created relativism, which forbids actual value judgment. “I have my truth, and you have yours. Respect. Self-accept. I am Okay, you’re Okay. It is politically incorrect to claim that something is higher than something else. “You judge”, is the same as “you condemn.”

Within the New Age movement there is a tendency to psychologize/subjectify both realization and ethics.

According to the Humanistic Psychology (Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, whose works stay at the basis of coaching and management theories), it is only the individual’s own subjective evaluation which can provide something with value. There neither exist valid values -coming from the community, or objective values- coming from nature, the universe, or life itself. Nothing has value in itself, unless it comes from the subject. ”It is not facts, but the best story which wins. You can be anything, anything you choose to be. You can, with your thoughts, create in reality like a God.”

Within New Age, it is important to express positive feelings, unfolding what they call sensitivity ethics. The question is however exactly what is they consider as being ”positive”. The Humanistic Psychology’s view of morals is not only subjectified, attributing the Source of morals to the subjective itself (the Ego, the inner thinker), but also emotionalized, since it is the individual’s feelings, which decide the moral quality of something. What it is about is to do what ”feels” right. It is the individual’s (the Ego’s) emotional experience of something, which defines values, not conversely. And this is fully in thread with the ideology of Consumer Capitalism, where the customer (and his or her´s experiences) is always right. The consumer society, the therapeutic Ego-unfolding and the subjectifying of the moral, go hand in hand. The moral – the Ego´s relation to itself – is therapized and the moral is subjectified.

(In the article ‘The Rulers of Newspeak’, from my book ‘Dream Yoga’, there is an investigation of the origins of relativism and subjectivism in the Universities, and how they have caused a collapse in standards of scholarship and intellectual responsibility).”

 

Abuse of Einstein’s theories of relativity and quantum physics.

New Age uses Einstein’s theories of relativity as well as the Quantum mechanics to ‘prove’ its theories (you can see this illustrated in New Age movies like The Secret and What the bleep do we know?). But these scientific theories are significantly distorted in the process.

There are mainly two kinds of scientific distortions:

1. That Einstein’s theories of relativity and quantum mechanics prove that relativism and subjectivism are valid points of views.

2. That Einstein’s theories of relativity and quantum mechanics prove that classical physics (the age of enlightenment, rationalism) are not valid anymore.

 

1. New Age says that Einstein’s theories of relativity, and quantum mechanics, prove, that relativism and subjectivism are valid points of views.

Morten Tolboll, in the same article, explained:  “It is simply wrong to assert, that Einstein’s theories of relativity should imply that there is no objective or true description of the physical reality. This is a confusion of physical relativity with epistemological relativism, which corresponds to a similar misunderstanding of quantum mechanics as subjectivistic. Quantum mechanics is not subjectivistic: it is not the human consciousness which produces the phenomenons. It is not the consciousness of the physicist (the subjective), which makes the electron behave as a wave. It is the macrophysical (material) experimental devices which affect the electron in such a way, so that you unambiguously know, that if you work with this type of apparatus, then the electron will always behave as a wave.

In the same way the theories of relativity, epistemologically seen, give no background for any relativism that ”everything is relative”. The seen does not depend of the eyes that watch when it comes to physical phenomenons, neither in quantum mechanics, nor in relativistic physics.”

 

2. New Age says that Quantum Mechanics and Einstein’s theories of relativity prove that classical physics (the age of enlightenment, rationalism) are not valid anymore

The same author says: “The emergence of quantum mechanics has not made classical physics invalid; it is still valid, but Planck’s constant (the quantum postulate) has given it a limited scope of application.

According to Niels Bohr (leading physicist on atoms, Nobel Prize in Physics), quantum mechanics is a generalization of classical physics, and the complementarity principle is a generalization of the classical causality principle. In the same way the theory of relativity is a generalization in another direction of the classical physics.

Bohr explained why you can’t replace classical physics with quantum physics, because the validity of classical physics is a necessary precondition to describe the quantum mechanical phenomenons.

But in numerous New Age Books and magazines you can see these 2 mistakes repeated again and again. This is due to the fact that New Age worshippers don’t bother (or dare) to get an opinion from anyone knowledgeable in quantum physics, solely because they have read it in other New Age books, written by people who have low or no competence in the field.

On the background of such abuses, there is an inflation of the phrase “Research has shown that…” A phrase, which often is used to convince the listener that the one who talks can reason what he says with concrete empirical proof. But this is often just an example of subjective argumentation, a kind of unethical manipulation (often based on wishful thinking), because it is extremely vague to claim that ”research has shown” anything, unless you can reason the assertion with specific details about the claimed research. Who has carried out this research? Which methods were used? What exactly did they found? Have their results been confirmed by others who work within the area? (Within quantum mechanics the best would be to read the works of Niels Bohr himself).

The thought-distortion “Research has shown that…” is extremely widely-spread within the New Age environment, where concepts such as research and science all too often are being mixed with spiritual concepts.

But New Age worshippers don’t care, relativism and subjectivism justify it. Anything goes. The paradox is that they swear by the concept of science – they call almost everything they do science, without having the slightest scientific foundation for it. Words such as science and scientific, have become mantras within the New Age environment: “When I say it is science, then it is science. That is my truth, and who are you to question that?” They even don’t hesitate making a fool out of educated scientists (see the typical forms of insults in my article The Rulers of Newspeak, ‘Dream Yoga’).

There are plenty of other examples within the New Age community, where they talk about their beliefs as scientifical proved, while there is no doubt they are on the grey, alternative market, a wild growing, uncontrolled market of quackery as well as scientific, philosophical, spiritual misguiding.’”

(Sources: Morten Tolboll ‘New Age and pseudo-science’, http://mortentolboll.blogspot.com, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Read more about Einstein relativity not justifying relativism, here.

 

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