The Value of Pseudoscience

As a Satanist, I believe in science. I don’t believe in anything without evidence, so I have a strange relationship with the pseudosciences I’m interested in. I’m into paranormal investigation, essential oils, crystals, and astrology. All of those fields are objectively nonsense. Paranormal investigators are notoriously terrible adherents to the scientific method, there is no real evidence that essential oils have superior benefits to the cheaper synthetic materials we have created based off of their chemical compositions, the idea that crystals have a mystic healing energy is ridiculous, and clearly the stars don’t dictate the courses of our lives.

However, despite knowing that all of these have little basis in reality, I find value in all four. Paranormal investigators – though they may be prone to confirmation bias at best and con artists at worst – are entertaining. As someone who has always been fascinated by ghost stories, it is easy to get caught up in the investigators’ excitement, even while knowing there is more than likely a more logical explanation than demons and shit for the sounds they are hearing. Furthermore, watching paranormal investigation shows and participating in ghost tours allow us to learn about history. Many paranormal investigations and ghost tours take place in historical locations, and in learning about what alleged spirits haunt them, we can also learn about the history of those locations. Essential oils and crystals may not have special healing powers, but the oils smell nice, and the crystals are pretty. They also carry a lot of symbolism, so in addition to their scents and attractiveness, they are useful for ritual.

Likewise, astrology can also be of use, despite not having any basis in reality. I like to use astrology in planning my rituals; the phases of the moon are significant in astrology, and I like to use them in planning my rituals. For example, the new moon is for cleansing and intention, and the full moon is for reflection and creation. Like the brand of Satanism I practice, astrology is heavily symbolic, which makes it perfect for personal reflection and ritual.

An interesting perspective on astrology is that astrology is an art. If anyone remembers Bill Nye’s Netflix show, an astrologer by the name of Sam Reynolds came on to make the case for astrology. That was not my favorite episode. Don’t get me wrong, I love Bill Nye. Along with shows like “Wishbone” and “Reading Rainbow,” “Bill Nye the Science Guy was one of my favorite after school PBS programs. While I was happy to see Nye back on TV, I have to say I was disappointed in the way he and his panel of experts treated the astrologist. They talked over him and wouldn’t address the few points he was actually able to get out over their condescension.

Astrology may not be real, but we cannot forget the historical significance of it. It is thanks to astrology that we even have astronomy; people wouldn’t have known that the stars and planets even moved if astrologers hadn’t tracked them and observed those patterns in an attempt to interpret them. It may not be real – and I don’t believe anyone who practices it genuinely believes that it is – but that does not mean it can’t be beneficial psychologically. Sam Reynolds sees it as an art, and that’s a perfect way to describe it. A birth chart is like a portrait; instead of paint, astrologers use a complicated system that, while it may not have any meaning in reality, certainly means a lot to the people getting their charts done.

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