Prompt 029: Fortune Tellers
29. Do you think fortunetellers actually have the ability to tell the future? Why or why not?
There are three factors that impact my opinion of fortune tellers:
- There are many, many things in this world that defy explanation.
- A lot of people can talk a good game and, as an ex once described: "They can sell a ketchup popsicle to a lady wearing white gloves."
- People's intuition is usually good enough to help them make the right decision, even if it's personally difficult to do so.
So, I personally think that most fortune-tellers, readers, diviners, etc. are plain bullshitters trying to make a living. And many a fool and their money are quickly parted. No big deal. At the same time, knowing how to "read" someone and determine the answers that stir their blood is a skill that I can appreciate. What is an actor or storyteller, after all, beyond a glorified bullshitter? My degree is in theatre arts, and I picked that up many years ago, so I'm confident in saying that deception and storytelling (not mutually exclusive terms) are entertainment skills that can be learned and definitely perfected.
Along with this, there's the human desire to figure out patterns and order within this universe. People seem to feel more secure and confident when they can successfully predict what will happen, how others will react, how natural laws will urge the natural world to behave, and so on. Again, I have no problem with that. What I don't understand is how people can completely abandon skepticism when faced with an explanation that affirms their preconceived beliefs (AKA "confirmation bias"). Unfortunately, it is sometimes easier for a person to endure mental gymnastics to confirm their own theories than to accept a much more reasonable explanation that renders their original opinion useless.
Religion (which is a step down from philosophy, even) is a cultural crutch, and has very little to do with how the world "really works." But that doesn't matter to most people. They're content to stick with that particular explanation because it's what they were raised on and it's easier to accept it rather than question their beliefs and even discard outmoded, illogical, or inaccurate beliefs that go against their tribe.
So it is with fortune-telling and divination. It ain't all it's cracked up to be, and by and large it's there to make us feel good about ourselves. So if you can make a living by helping people authentically feel good about themselves, then you ain't all that terrible. It's abuse of power and exploitation of others I can't stand, really.