Feng shui and consistency

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Mrs. Guesswork and I just finished watching Penn and Teller's Bullshit! episode on feng shui. Regardless of the merits of feng shui, I was surprised to see that the recommendations from the various practitioners varied so widely. I don't know much about feng shui, but I'd always had the impression the rules (whatever you think of their merits) were pretty well defined. By contrast, while there's some variation in the exact rules, it's not like half the Orthodox rabbis in the world think it's cool to eat bacon double cheeseburgers.


I haven't seen the episode, but my memory of the origin was in proper siting of graves. That turns out to be highly difficult to formalize, because the areas aren't clean, easy angles. Instead, the local topology is "personified" into animals (is there a non-human word for that?), each of which may defend or threaten the site.

Extended out a bit, a village underneath a "tiger" formation might react to that by having a ceremony once a year with drums and firecrackers, to scare the tiger spirit away. But if seen from a different angle the same rocks look like a dragon, it might be seen as protective. So a practitioner with a different take on the topology can totally change the interpretation.

And if you're aren't siting something large, public, or permanent with it, you're almost certainly getting yanked.

I have seen the episode and have run into 'Feng Sui experts.' If you want something to compare it to think of astrology. Matter of fact most places that 'teach' Feng Sui also 'teach' astrology. Its not science and there is not set rules. Its all about how that individual feels. So you are going to get results all over the board.

As for rabbi's and bacon cheeseburgers. I don't think the comparison is justified. For one thing - as long as its kosher - a bacon cheeseburger should be fine. Jewish law is written down and very complex (there are many food blogs devoted to this.) But you are going to get widely different opinions and interpretations. But at least you have something to reference too.

Like many "let me fix this for you" systems, feng shui has two main parts: problem diagnosis and repair suggestions. The latter is fairly standardized; it's the former that varies widely. Even if two practitioners agree on all the problems, they are likely to disagree on the ranking of the problems and therefore which fixes to apply where.

This is not so different from western medicine with any of the autoimmune syndromes, for example.

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