Have you ever heard the term “woo”? No, I’m not talking about the romantic or marketing definition. I’m talking about the pseudoscience application. When somebody takes a concept from the world of science and tries to make it apply to a belief system without understanding the science or by misapplying it we call it “woo”. (The term comes from the typical reaction when somebody sees something mysterious or spooky. “wooooo!!!”)
For example, over the years scientists have theorized about vibrating string particles on a subatomic level that impact physics. Some people in the New Age movement have taken that little bit of information and built an entire belief system around it, claiming that positive vibrations are generated by love, happiness, peace, optimism … etc. while negative vibrations are generated by hate, jealousy, pessimism … etc. This is woo. It’s a little bit of science mixed in with a colossal load of nonsense. (The biblical term would be “dung”.)
Prior to the Age of Enlightenment there was a pseudoscience known as alchemy. While it did lay the foundation for modern chemistry ultimately, alchemy included a lot of magic, mythology, superstition and metaphysical components that are rejected by modern science.
Another example is space woo. One pseudo-scientist has made a living writing books about things like government cover ups of extinct civilizations on the moon and Mars. From what I can tell his popularity all began after a 1976 NASA photo of a sierra on Mars that resembled a human face, which initially caused quite a stir. Subsequent photos provided much more detail however, and that seemed to put an end to the fascination because it doesn’t really look like a face after all. Nevertheless, there’s a fringe group of believers who buy his books and videos, and flock to his conferences.
Woo comes in many forms besides pseudoscience. Sometimes people apply the mysterious to economics. For example, you’ll sometimes hear about the cabal (the global “elite”, international bankers, Rothschilds … etc.) trying to kill off half of the world’s population or steal everybody’s money. Some people use this woo to promote the sale of gold or silver. While it’s partly true that there is an international banking cartel, there is absolutely no evidence that they work in collusion or that they control the geopolitical world to the extent that conspiracy theorists claim. I used to run a blog that debunked the sale of Iraqi dinar. Currency dealers promoted the idea that the PTB (“powers that be”) had planned for the dinar to skyrocket in value after post-war Iraq stabilized. Many Christians got caught up in that scam due to a combination of inexperience with currency speculation, ignorance about economics, and general all around gullibility. Eventually the dealers were shut down and arrested, and their assets were seized.
Then there’s numerology, the belief that there’s some hidden meaning in numbers. While math is a vital part of science, pseudomath and numerology are not. Some bible teachers have tried to use numerology to explain hidden truths of the Bible, yet none of it has ever amounted to anything other than sales of their merchandise. Many popular prophecy teachers today are baffling believers with BS in order to sell tons of books, DVDs, and whatever else they can profit from. Bible Codes, EMP (electromagnetic pulse), blood moons, HAARP (the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program), CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or “Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire”), Nibiru, Planet X … etc. are all used to promote wild speculation and fearmongering. The world of bible prophecy is rife with hype and eschatological excrement. Let’s face it, rational down-to-earth exposition of end-time scriptures just doesn’t sell as good as sensationalism.
Unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. Christians are also subjected to woo from the world of political science. Many have been thrown into a panic over the threat to the US from Sharia Law. While it does pose a threat to the UK where they have a parliamentary system, there’s very little chance of Sharia Law ever making any progress in our system of government because we have a winner-take-all system. Many believers have also come to believe that Obama is a Muslim, based on out of context quotes and assorted videos on the internet. In fact, his mother was an agnostic, Barack Obama Sr. was an avowed atheist, and Obama’s step-father Lolo Soetoro was indifferent about religion. Obama wasn’t raised with any set belief, and by his own admission he only came to appreciate organized religion as an adult when he saw the potential of the black churches to spur social and economic change. I’m no supporter of Obama, but I do think that facts should mean something.
The Bible tells us to avoid fables (I Tim. 1:4), and to prove all things (I Thes. 5:21). In other words, God commands us to shun urban legends and conspiracy theories, and to use critical thinking. The more we do that the better witnesses we’ll be of the glory of God before a lost and dying world.