Mystics With Statistics

The title has a certain “ring” to it. This is another chapter in my ongoing inner debate over mysticism vs. empiricism.

Warren Zevon once wrote a song called Desperados Under the Eaves that included the lines:

And if California slides into the ocean
Like the mystics and statistics say it will

Although those mystics probably wouldn’t acknowledge it, they were (and still are) on the same page as some geologists who believe California is ripe for “the Big One” that could split it right down the middle (and I’m not talking about political secession). But my point here is that mysticism and statistics are typically “strange bedfellows” with little in common. Mystics rely mainly on intuitive vision with no essential grounding in objective reality, while statistics are predicated on concrete evidence. For diviners, the Holy Grail of our practice is proof positive that our predictions are on-the-money, but in truth most of us settle for “in the ballpark.” On the other hand, vague generalities of the “feel-good” kind masquerading as “empowerment” do little to burnish our professional reputation; they might sound good on-the-fly but, upon deeper reflection after the reading session, they offer little meat for clients to sink their teeth into. An emotionally satisfied client walking out the door is not necessarily an adequately  informed one if our purpose is to enlighten and not simply to entertain them.

There is a fine art to giving our clients meaningful insights for navigating an uncertain future without feeling obligated to lock potential circumstances and events into a specific “date/time/place” frame of reference. While that degree of certainty is often requested, it is seldom furnished with exacting precision by our usual methods of prediction; we may infer many things from our observations, but the absolute truth is often the most elusive. I’m perfectly happy to hear a client say “I think you’ve put your finger on something there” or “That makes a lot of sense to me.” Most often I get “That describes my present situation perfectly;” one recent sitter remarked “That’s my life right there on the table.” If the past and present come across with such clarity in the reading, I’m emboldened to trust the glimpses of a likely future that emerge from my deliberations. But I make no assumptions about the airtight inevitability of any of it, and always paint with broad strokes until a more coherent pattern surfaces from the often chaotic “scatter” of details offered by the forecast. Although obviously not something I would hang on my office door, my self-proclaimed motto “Half mystic, half mad scientist” was well-chosen.

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