Saturday, October 8, 2016

Do "chi" "masters" believe in their own "powers"?

There are many videos out there of "chi" "masters" (scare quotes intentional) who defeat assailants without even touching them, just by gesturing at them. Of course these videos invariably show them doing it to their own students. There are also many videos showing them doing it to third-parties, and a few where it's an actual (organized) fight between the "chi" "master" and some actual martial artist. Not very surprisingly, the "chi" always somehow fails to work in these more real situations. (One particular example is quite striking, where such a "master" has a fight with a mixed martial artist, and gets seriously hurt immediately at the start of the fight.)

Rather obviously, all these "chi powers" are complete bollocks. But the interesting question I'm tackling here is whether these "masters" themselves are fully aware of this, and are just swindling people, or whether they are actually themselves convinced that it's a real thing, ie. whether they are self-delusional.

The latter isn't actually completely out of the realm of possibility.

It may be a similar phenomenon to how many "psychics" actually honestly believe that their cold reading techniques are the real thing, real supernatural powers. They have learned these techniques from others, from reading books, and practice, and are using textbook cold reading on people, but they aren't actually aware that it's just that, and instead honestly believe that they are getting all that information supernaturally. They are so convinced of it, and are so entrenched in their beliefs, that they won't be dissuaded even if they are explained how it really works. They might even get semi-euphoric feelings when they successfully use the techniques on their clients, emphasizing their conviction that it's a real, supernatural thing. It's essentially a form of mild self-hypnosis, self-placebo effect.

A similar thing might be happening with many of these "chi" "masters". They may be inadvertently using psychological suggestion techniques on their willing students, not even realizing what they are actually doing, and convincing themselves that it actually is a supernatural power, rather than simply psychology. They probably rationalize away any signs and symptoms of it not being real (such as it not working on some less suggestible people, or many of the things they teach to their students being so blatantly similar to psychological suggestion.)

It might have started with actual phonies, actual con-men who realized that they could fool people into believing in these "chi" powers, who conned people for money and prestige. Their pupils then inadvertently started using the same techniques on their own pupils, believing it to be a real thing and not realizing the actual psychology behind it.

Of course when these "powers" don't actually work in real situations, they further rationalize it to themselves, to keep believing. Maybe they weren't feeling right just that day. Maybe they were tired and stressed. Maybe they were catching a cold. Whatever is needed to keep holding to the conviction, and not let go. It would be unthinkable that after decades of believing it to be real, they would have to admit having been wrong and self-delusional.

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