There is a problem with believing in stuff that can't be validated by independent evidence (ie, the stuff skeptics refer to as “woo”), namely that you don’t know where to stop. I was reminded of that reading this description of a recent book signing by Daniel Pinchbeck. Pinchbeck has a new book out about what is supposed to happen in the year 2012, which is (not) the end of the Mayan calendar. According to Amazon’s editorial review:
Pinchbeck… has set out to create an "extravagant thought experiment" centering around the Mayan prophecy that 2012 will bring about the end of the world as we know it, "the conclusion of a vast evolutionary cycle, and the potential gateway to a higher level of manifestation." More specifically, Pinchbeck's claim is that we are in the final stages of a fundamental global shift from a society based on materiality to one based on spirituality.
This is followed by numerous credulous five stars “awesome” type customer reviews. LOL – I haven’t read the book but it sounds just like Gregg Braden’s nonsense – made-up drivel leading up to a big secret the author is going to clue you in on. Apparently one of Pinchbeck's big deals is “synchronicity”. New agers define this as being where different, seemingly unconnected, events are meaningfully related; skeptics use the word “coincidence” to describe the same thing.
Anyway, this guy is clearly getting tired of all the out-there woo beliefs of his fans. This is how he started off his book signing:
“It would be great if you didn't pontificate" when asking questions, Pinchbeck told the 50 or so listeners, noting a tendency of his audiences to use the Q-and-A sessions as a sounding board for their own cosmological outlook.
A number of audience members, many already clutching their own jade-green copies of "2012" to be signed, recognized the concept of synchronicity and wanted to offer their own versions (one such instance included buying Pinchbeck's new book and then discovering that the author was coming to Portland).
Pinchbeck, however, had heard plenty of these stories of late. "Now I get a little bored -- people come up to me, 'Oh, I had this amazing synchronicity. . . .' Yeah, whatever."
Translation – don’t bother me with your made-up woo when I’m trying to sell my made-up woo. Priceless.
Edited November 27, 2006
See Brian Doherty's review of Pinchbeck's book in Reason Online.