I wish I could put a “post no bills” sticker on my windshield, because it’s annoying when people put advertising flyers on there. Still, one that I got recently gave me the idea for this post, but I’m not sure whether that’s a good or a bad thing. It was some ad for a psychic, saying that she specialized in removing negative energy. So what in the nine hells IS “negative energy”? Well, in theoretical physics, there’s a net negative energy produced between two uncharged metallic conductive plates in a vacuum, and it’s thought that negative energy might exist around a black hole.
It’s often thought to be a necessary component of such proposed concepts as wormholes and time travel. Particles with negative mass would operate in the opposite of the way you’d expect as far as charges and attraction go, which is to say that like charges would attract and opposite ones repel. It’s not the same as antimatter, which would have positive mass. And not at all surprisingly, negative energy has been used on Star Trek. So why would a psychic want to get rid of that? To prevent careless time travel? No, when people colloquially use the term, it seems that they generally just mean “bad vibes,” hardly a quantifiable or testable thing. I think it bugs me particularly because it’s an attempt to apply scientific terminology to a religious or spiritual concept, sort of like “Creation Science.” The other thing that bothers me is that, when a concept like negative energy in the spiritual sense is taken to what I see as its logical conclusion, it’s quite disturbing. If letting off positive energy brings good things and negative energy bad things, does that mean that genocide and rape result because a person has a bad attitude? That’s not to say that there isn’t some validity to the idea of a negative attitude bringing negative results, but I’m inclined to think that’s mostly a psychosomatic kind of thing, setting yourself up for failure because you expect it. It’s not a scientific principle, and it doesn’t always apply. Fortunately, for those of you who might believe in it, you can apparently drive it away with amber. Good to know, so you won’t have to pay to visit that psychic who puts flyers on cars in the Walmart parking lot.
I think the New Age concept of positive and negative energy can be traced back to the Chinese idea of qi (sometimes spelled chi), which is basically a life force and a kind of energy that interacts with all things in the world. Even the Wikipedia entry says it’s basically like The Force from Star Wars, although I guess that’s not too surprising, as Wikipedia seems to be able to link anything to Star Wars. Speaking of which, I remember seeing discussions about how, if the Chosen One was supposed to “restore balance to the Force,” wouldn’t that indicate making the Light and Dark Sides equal, rather than destroying the Sith entirely?
Maybe a better way to say it would have been that he would bring ORDER to the Force, with the Dark Side and the Sith representing chaos?
Not that chaos is necessarily bad, and indeed the Dungeons & Dragons model allows for Chaotic Good and Lawful Evil, but since we’re basically creations of order who are eventually destroyed by entropy, that’s how we tend to think of it. And THAT reminds me of how, in Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series, the Devil (known as the Lone Power) is the one who brought entropy to the universe. I’m really going off on a tangent here, but I guess my main point is that science isn’t about value judgments, so concepts like good and bad can’t really apply to energy.