Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Dark crystals: the brutal reality behind a booming wellness craze (theguardian.com)
55 points by blue_devil 24 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 40 comments

"According to Pew Research Center data...42% think spiritual energy can be located in physical objects such as crystals."

Urgh. Is it really 42%? That's depressing.

Science education in this country is seriously broken. The elementary schools jump right into teaching procedural skills such as the 'scientific method', which is really just experimental design and is useless without teaching the basic critical thinking and philosophy of science. Those are way more important for the majority of students, who are not going to go on to be scientists.

We need to start the education at the preschool level, teaching the kids how easy it is to be fooled and why we have to always question. You can then build on that at the elementary school level with concepts of objectivity and repeatabily. By the end on elementary school you can then begin philosophy of rationality and empiricism. This can all happen in parallel to teaching 'science facts' that we do now.

But none of this is currently happening at any kind of large scale.

Here’s an alternative view: we do an ok job of science education, but a deeply unsatisfactory job of teaching people that it is OK to be themselves and likes the stuff they like.

Crystal spiritualism to me is just a reaction to the fact that people overascribe meaning to things that they like and enjoy, as a justification beyond “I enjoy it”. It goes hand in hand with the whole spiritualism around rock climbing or stand up paddle boarding or yoga - they’re all great fun, but, modern life under emphasizes the role of fun and preference and so people justify it with spiritualism.

The simple counter-example here is: everybody likes cocaine, but nobody likes what cocaine does to you over long term, so you should probably not do it.

i don't particularly like what breathing oxygen does to my body over the long term but i still do that. granted, out of necessity.

anyway i agree with the point you're making, with one caveat: id say it's perfectly okay to do cocaine responsibly. it's just really difficult to do so evidently! if one were to only occasionally do it then i would think that the overall negative impact of it would be significantly less than what would happen if one were to do it consistently for a long period of time. granted my experience is with methamphetamine, which is, uh... an entirely different beast! but either way.

if someone likes crystals, it's ok to like them and to collect them, even to believe some woo things about them. but it's a problem when they start trying to convince everyone else that their experience is absolute and not just anecdotal. the same concept in a roundabout way goes for cocaine: if you like it, by all means, enjoy it! just be responsible with it. personally i don't like cocaine at all, just the way that it smells /s

> We need to start the education at the preschool level, teaching the kids how easy it is to be fooled and why we have to always question.

You’re going to have to rejig several years of curriculum based on the Easter bunny, various Christmas holiday creations, children’s books and probably ruin a lot of imaginative fantasy books.

I’m okay with it though, my older siblings basically did the same thing to me from a young age.

If this was done manking would be changed forever.

Note about teaching reason: Cognitive biases and logical fallacies should be teached too.

How do you teach a preschool kid reason?

You don't. You simply teach them that they can be easily fooled. That's the beginning. Among other things, slight of hand magic and optical illusions are both fun, easy to grasp, and get the point across. Reason comes later.

When my boy was a preschooler he came home one day with a terrible story about how his friend's dad had been sucked up by a vacuum cleaner! He was pretty spooked by the story. I simply said, "Hmm, interesting, let's try it." We got out the vacuum cleaner and I let him attempt to suck me up with it. It was fun, funny, and I could see the lightbulb go off in his head.

Do "physical objects" include communion wafers, holy objects, and churches? If so, this is hardly a new idea and I'm surprised it's as low as 42%.

Well, i don't know, but i don't think it's possible to believe in spiritual energy without thinking it can be located in a physical object. I mean, what would be the point of it, if it could not interact with the world.

And if you simply believe that the physical world is all there is, well i guess whatever spirituality is, then it must be located in matter.

So i guess i don't find it that depressing compared to all the other batshit crazy things people believe.

I'd question the survey they conducted.

It is depressing as knowing someone [0] make a living out of Rumpology [1]?

I remember discovering [0] decades ago when the internet was young. It was funny back then. I search for it recently to illustrate to my kids how wild the early internet was, and to my horror found it hadn't disappeared. One the contrary, it had grown stronger. (Definitely same site run by the same woman - I have never forgotten her face.)

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumpology

[1] http://www.jacquelinestallone.com/rumps.html

The use of "such as" in that question feels weasely.

I think plenty of people walk through a museum and feel that certain inanimate physical objects carry a nearly spiritual weight. That didn't mean they think there's healing power in a geode.

If you use the word energy in the sense of I don't feel that energetic today, ie as a mental state then that's not so bad. Obviously it doesn't make sense for energy in the joules sense.

I predict that there will be a huge market in giant crystals, once rich people get hold of this.

Giant crystals are one of the few remaining truly scarce assets, more rare than that limited edition Bugatti, and unlike gemstones (diamond, ruby, ...) they have a novelty factor (not to mention sheer size).


I was at a dinner party and I was talking to the man’s wife about my work in software and cybersecurity.

She told me that she keeps a crystal next to the family computer to help protect it from computer viruses.

I would not know what to do in this situation.

Do you just shut down and walk away and find a different conversation to join?

Do you humor them?

Do you ruin your reputation and friendship by telling the man's wife "You're stupid"?

Do you try to politely explain something to someone who is dumb as a crystal and will probably never be able to understand?

Do you call 911 because they might be having a stroke or psychotic episode?

Sometimes just park your own view and genuinely ask questions and find out why she believes in them. Sometimes you can have an interesting conversation that way.

But most of the time, change the subject.


Humor them or talk about something different.

Sounds like a great topic for the next Defcon...

Did she share rate of success? That would have impressed me.

You'd think it would be an easy sell that unethically mined crystals harbor "bad" energy, not "good". But I guess nobody involved in sales & distribution actually cares about anybody's well being.

A friend of my wife and I is into crystals and is also currently dating. She wants to find someone who is open about the magical powers of crystals.

Thinking of that made me realize that I would rather date someone on crystal meth than someone on crystals.

Reminds me of when I lived with my methhead landlord in college who was also really into crystal magic...

My previous roommates (a couple) were both big into xanax and crystals. They'd go on walks around the town, f'd up on scrips, and pick up rocks, bring them home and gush at me about what they found 'look at this ruby!" They'd proclaim (it was just a shard of broken beer bottle, I kid you not). By the end, the side of our house had accumulated a several hundred pound collection of (totally mundane and worthless) rocks. Their plan was to crack these rocks open by throwing them at the (concrete) ground, hoping to find crystals inside. In my opinion the benzos infantilized them, because they were not like that when they moved in, it was a downward spiral of a transition over two years.

This wasn't even thier worst quality. But I will always remember thier 'crystal' hobby.

I don’t buy into any of this stuff myself, but if it gives people comfort (or even a placebo effect), perhaps it’s not all that bad?

The article does not mainly focus on whether the belief in crystals’ healing powers is bad. It is mostly about the mining operations that bring the crystals out of the ground to begin with, and how a surge in demand for them is driving that mining.

It is that bad. The claims made about healing crystals compete with actual science and medicine, and to a naive observer, magic woo-woo crystals that can heal anything will always seem like a superior alternative to expensive, complicated and possibly painful medical treatment. And that's assuming that someone hasn't also been led astray by anti-vaxxers, to think mainstream medicine is a fraud, and the crystals are the only thing that works.

There's nothing good about encouraging the delusions of people who can't tell the difference between the real world and faerie tales. That it gives them "comfort" is irrelevant when it's false comfort.

Yeah the 60% of Americans believing in pseudoscience is somewhat concerning, but I don’t see a problem with people buying them if thats what they’re into. And the injustice of mine workers not seeing their fair share is a classic issue of resource extraction from poor countries. I imagine they’d rather have the option to dig than not.

It’s better than bleach enemas or even antivaxers, that’s true. It’s still a scam though, about the same level as homeopathy (that’s slightly worse because people use it to replace real medicine)

Yes, and most of the people who don't buy crystals are still eager to damage health and wallet by overeating.

I was flabbergasted at the justifications of the sellers for supporting child labour in this industry:

>>If anything, Stamison wonders if the circumstances of miners in Madagascar, “makes the pieces a lot more special. Because I know some person in a little baby hut was actually polishing it by hand, and they’re setting their intentions into it, too,” she said. “People’s intentions and people’s energy are put into the stones as they’re producing it.”

“So the circumstances they’re mined in, they are embedded into the stone somehow?” I asked.

“I think so. A little bit, it has to be. It has to be.”


> at the start of the 20th century we invented evidence-based medicine

I'm sure evidence-based medicine started a lot earlier than the 20th century e.g. Semmelweis' theory on doctors attending child births cleaning their hands in the 1840s.

You’d be surprised how much of medicine is not evidence-based but rather eminence-based.

A lot of current practices have been found to have no evidence to back them up and are still prevalent in the medical industry

i feel like i'm back on 2004 lj

The scientific version of this is mechanical watches.

“Granola Crunchers or simply Crunchers, terms comprising the prototypical sandals, unrefined fibers, daffy arcana, emotional incontinence, flamboyantly long hair, extreme liberality on social issues, financial support from parents they revile, bare feet, obscure import religions, indifferent hygiene, a gooey and somewhat canned vocabulary, the whole predictable peace-and-love post-Hippie diction“ -Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact