Paranormal Pseudoscience Skepticism/critical thinking

What did the monkeys ever do to deserve this? (Evolution as a justification for woo)

I realize that this blog has become “all dichloroacetate (DCA) all the time.” I think I’ve said what needs to be said in my usual long-winded fashion, and now it’s time to move on to less heavy topics for a while. Tomorrow, we will have another installment of Your Friday Dose of Woo. For a warmup, however, here’s a tasty little tidbit. Apparently, the Los Angeles Zoo has paid $4,500 to a feng shui expert to help them design the enclosure for golden monkeys from China:

LOS ANGELES Feb 13, 2007 (AP)– The Los Angeles Zoo paid $4,500 to an expert in the ancient Chinese art of feng shui to ensure three endangered golden monkeys on loan from China can have a strong life force.

Consulting the feng shui expert was part of the cost for a $7.4 million enclosure for the golden monkeys debuting at the zoo later his year. Feng shui focuses on balance in design to promote health and happiness.

Feng shui is in demand among high-end architects and interior designers, but Beverly Hills-based feng shui expert Simona Mainini said the Los Angeles Zoo’s effort may be a first in animal enclosure design.

“It’s very experimental,” Mainini said. “We don’t have any books on feng shui for monkeys. We just have to assume that Darwin is correct and that there is a connection and what is good for humans is good for monkeys.”

Great Darwin’s beard! That’s the first time I’ve ever heard evolution used as a justification for trying woo on hapless animals. I’m no evolutionary biologist, but I do know enough to know that the hominid line diverged from Old World monkeys around 30 million years ago and that humans are actually much more closely related to apes than monkeys. Apparently Mainini doesn’t know this. And, of course, she assumes, without justification, that feng shui is something more than the proverbial pile of Dingo’s kidneys.

It isn’t.

No price, however, is too high to assure that the monkeys have a strong life force:

“The viewing building has a Chinese character,” said principal architect Charles Mays, who hire Mainini. “We thought it would be more authentic if we went that extra step and made sure it was done with good feng shui.”

Mainini said she tweaked the plans to maximize the good qi (pronounced chee). For example, she recommended moving a door on the observation tower or adding a fountain or water feature to “soften, with moisture, the harsh energy” in that area of the tower.

Because, man, it’s really, really bad for monkeys to have to deal with “harsh energy,” you know.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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