What benefit does New Age spiritualism have?

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carlisomes
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Seems to me that New Age spiritualism has a net negative effect on society.

The ideology and its adherents tend to promote negativity, pain and suffering, even though their “spirits” say this is wrong. It’s also clear they are behind the increasing trend of promoting spiritualism in Western medicine. They clearly reckon that if Catholics could seek to control society long ago, then it’s their time now, as Christianity is of lesser relevance now.

then what positive contribution does New Age spiritualism actually make to contemporary Western society?
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Mequa
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It makes money for authors happy to fleece the gullible. As the saying goes, there's one born every minute.

Come to think of it, that's given me an itch to write some New Age rhetoric. If only as a "troll piece".

As for contribution to society, much like religion it provides (false) hope. It's closely intertwined with the capitalist system whereby popular authors rake in a lot of profit from pandering to people's superstitions, on a "supply and demand" basis.

Meanwhile, genuine philosophy works are much less popular. You can only guess why. To a popular mindset, truth is banal, dull and annoying in comparison. To compare genuine philosophy with New Age hogwash is much like comparing a healthy salad with a bucket of KFC.
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Farm_Ecology
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In general, I would wager it has a seriously negative effect on society. It supports and perpetrates spiritual and health tips that are not only incorrect, but can be down right dangerous. It promotes ignorance to a threatening degree.

New Age and alternative medicine almost always go hand in hand. And it's often you'll find such gurus (or whatever the individual calls themselves) selling various health supplements as an alternative. Many of these supplements (such as Aloe Vera) can be seriously damaging to peoples health in the way they are taken.

Again, this depends on the individual philosophy. But I've found others treating negativity with disdain and avoidance. Specifically the mentality of "avoiding negativity" which manifests itself in the complete avoidance of "negative people" (i.e people who are upset), instead of trying to help them.

I've found New Age spiritualism to be completely self-centered, with many of it's adherents reveling in their own ignorance.
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Mequa
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(Original post by Farm_Ecology)
But I've found others treating negativity with disdain and avoidance. Specifically the mentality of "avoiding negativity" which manifests itself in the complete avoidance of "negative people" (i.e people who are upset), instead of trying to help them.
Yes, and hypocritically, shunning "negative people" (who may be going through a hard time and in need of help) is often practised alongside the belief that compassion is important.

Scepticism of New Age philosophy itself is also treated as "negativity". You really can't win an argument against it with that blockade in place.

Having read some of the Celestine Prophecy books by James Redfield back in the day, which are some pretty hardcore New Age propaganda (not to mention seriously badly written), I found a few more dangerous ideas too. One being encouraging children to "remember" dozens of "past lives". There's also the ubiquitous portrayal of sceptics as closed-minded, unenlightened killjoys.
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Farm_Ecology
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(Original post by Mequa)
Having read some of the Celestine Prophecy books by James Redfield back in the day, which are some pretty hardcore New Age propaganda (not to mention seriously badly written), I found a few more dangerous ideas too. One being encouraging children to "remember" dozens of "past lives". There's also the ubiquitous portrayal of sceptics as closed-minded, unenlightened killjoys.
Something that keeps coming up, I find very strange. Having read various websites and books on the subject, there is a tendency to use "half science". Where a certain concept (such as quantum physics or DNA) will be taken and used in in their explanation, but only a fraction of it. It gives them an opportunity to lure in people with scientific words they have heard, but they completely misrepresent the topic. That in itself is worrying.
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Mequa
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(Original post by Farm_Ecology)
Something that keeps coming up, I find very strange. Having read various websites and books on the subject, there is a tendency to use "half science". Where a certain concept (such as quantum physics or DNA) will be taken and used in in their explanation, but only a fraction of it. It gives them an opportunity to lure in people with scientific words they have heard, but they completely misrepresent the topic. That in itself is worrying.
That's called pseudoscience. Often such authors mix up scientific-sounding and religious/spiritual language. It's a way of illegitimately piggy-backing on the authority of legitimate science to give authority to their spiritual hogwash.

A rather amusing example, regarding a family member of mine. An aunt of mine practices Reiki, which allegedly involves channelling spiritual energy from the universe as a supposedly powerful form of mental and physical healing. A look at her workbook suggests it can even cure cancer and heart attacks.

She told me that Reiki is scientifically proven because it uses quantum physics! I failed to suppress a laugh. She got really upset and said I shouldn't be condescending about people's beliefs.
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miser
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The kind of harm it causes is insidious. It's not a direct in-your-face harm, but slow and indirect. Socially, having a population sceptical of science and vulnerable to wishful thinking is not going to do us any favours. It creates a culture of the acceptability of ignorance and a distrust of important truths.

In terms of actual harm caused, people preferring alternative treatments to medicine miss opportunities to improve their well-being. This might mean being sicker for longer or exacerbating treatable problems. For illnesses that become more harmful over time, legitimate treatments may also become more expensive, with society footing the bill.

Economically, it promotes the growth of industries with no genuine benefit to society above what can be achieved by placebos. This means that many people are employed wastefully, and many rich people have vested interests in misleading the public to sell their products. Work is only a virtue if your work serves some genuine utility. It's true that at the moment we have a general surplus in work force, but this means that these wasteful industries are preventing us from tackling that problem by hiding it. Not all employment is equal, and useless industries are not a substitute for a sensible model of wealth distribution.
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