A High Court’s View of Feng Shui

February 3, 2010

Here is another important lesson we can learn from the Nina Wang case coming from the judge’s report as noted in:


<非正規學術> 對於在庭上聽取風水證供,法官一直抱保留態度。他在判詞重申,風水並非正規學術,門派各有不同做法,連同行之間也無基準。

My Translation: “In regard to the Court’s listening to the Feng Shui evidence, the High Court judge (Johnson Lam) has always kept a conservative attitude. In the judgement statement he re-iterated that Feng Shui is not a proper subject of study, each school has its own methods of doing things and there are no basic standards even amongst the practitioners of the same business.”

So what is badly needed is a basic industrial standard and a professional education curriculum for the practice of Feng Shui, otherwise the court and the general public will not take us seriously, but how can we achieve this? That is the million-dollars question and an urgent one, if Feng Shui is to be a legitimate profession free of amateurs and charlatans.

High Court Judge Johnson Lam


9 Responses to “A High Court’s View of Feng Shui”

  1. Danny Says:

    Hi Howard,

    If our field is a purely subjective field, as you and Joseph have been trying to tell us lately, then it can only have subjective standards.
    Then it will be like different churches trying to push their version of the bible.

    In more objective fields, the standards come from within the field.
    Then “truth” sets the standard, if something can be proven sufficiently and there are not too much outstanding challenges, then it becomes an accepted part of the field. If something is disproven it gets removed.
    The “scientific method” sets the basic standard.

    In a subjective field this is not possible.
    Yes, you can have a few “bishops” fighting over what should be in the bible or not. But will they ever agree? It certainly hasn’t happened in the domain of religion, as we all know.
    And it will also never stop anyone from starting his own “church”.
    That is part of freedom of religion, a human right.

    These are the things you have to accept if you insist that ours is a purely subjective field.
    A subjective field cannot set and enforce objective standards.


  2. howardchoy Says:

    Hi Danny,

    Every field of practice, including Feng Shui, has its subjective components as well as objective ones, so I don’t know what you mean when you said, “If our field is a purely subjective field, as you and Joseph have been trying to tell us lately, then it can only have subjective standards.”

    Not being able to achieve full accuracy in our readings do not mean the outcomes are purely subjective, it means even when we have tried our best, the outcomes may not be as good as we wish, but that is only human. I think what you mean by being accurate is to try our best at all times and if that is the case, I fully agree with your sentiment.


    • Danny Says:

      Hi Howard,

      If there are objective components then there is always a way to demonstrate it by some objective method. That means you can produce sufficient objective evidence for the working of a certain principle or cure, and it can be independently verified by others.
      And such objective evidence will not come without looking at accuracy when it comes to principles or methods, and at effectiveness when it comes to cures.

      In absence of such, the criteria for being considered an objective component or standard cannot be met.
      Just some experts claiming it is objective is not enough to make it so.

      So as long as feng shui principles have not been objectively demonstrated, they stay part of the subjective field, a matter of personal belief.
      That doesn’t mean they are not true, only that they have not gained the status of objective truth (yet).
      And then you cannot set standards other than those which are already applied to every field.

      So if you are convinced that there are objective components in feng shui, then there is no need to lament our lack of standards and urgent need for them. Then just go ahead and start creating standards by bringing the evidence for what you consider the objective components. That’s the logical place to start.
      That which stays out of reach for producing enough evidence, that will then be considered the subjective part.
      There you cannot set standards, because a standard has not been found and agreed upon.

      E.g. some people believe that using calabashes belongs to proper feng shui practice, while the three legged toad should be discarded as superstition. But as long as neither the calabash nor the three legged toad can demonstrate their effectiveness as a cure, then both belong to the subjective part, where by definition no standards can be set.
      The burden of proof is on the users of the calabash, before they can criticize the use of three legged toads.
      Otherwise it would only be a case of pot blames kettle.

      So, you will have to raise at least some parts of feng shui to the status of objective components, before you can think about setting any standards in the field.
      The judge in the case expressed his doubt that it can be done, because of course he can see that feng shui is largely practiced as a kind of religious faith, dogmatic.
      But nobody stops you from proving him wrong.


      • howardchoy Says:

        Hi Danny,

        The 15 Core Principles of Feng Shui can be considered objective components of Feng Shui and Michael Mak’s expertise model for Feng Shui can also be verified by others but when it comes to things like interpreting a Flying Star chart, the different interpretations of the same chart will always be subjective.

        So as you can see there are both subjective and objective components in the practice of Feng Shui and the use of “cures” can also be considered in the same way (eg. a calabash may not be objectively proven to be good for health but fresh air and greenery can), because everything has its yin and yang complementary opposites.

        That brings us to the question of standards, which can only be formed when everyone agrees, there is nothing objective about standards, just as there is nothing objective about accepting the metric system of measurement as the preferred standard over the imperial, or to drive on the right hand side of the road instead of the left.

        So there is nothing to prove and it is not about subjectivity or objectivity, only agreements are needed to set standards. For example, to agree adopting Sanyuan Jiuyun as the preferred standard instead of Eryuan Bayun, would stop all the confusion about how to divide time and who is right or wrong.

        It seems that you have equated standard with objectivity, which is not the case in point here, where we were talking about an agreeable industrial standard adopted for the use of Feng Shui.


  3. Danny Says:

    Hi Howard,

    You are on the right track in the first part of your message, you would naturally start at the parts that are least contested, and try to set some core standards before you move into more details.

    But it is not so that there is nothing objective about standards like metric system or driving on one side of the road.
    Such standards arise out of an objective need for them. Traffic would be impossible if vehicles drive on both sides, that’s easy enough to prove.
    So nobody will disagree that there is a need to decide for left or right driving.
    Advantages of standardized measures and weights are equally easy to understand.
    That kind of “practical standards” come out of an objective need.

    But that’s not really the kind of standards we are talking about, right?
    I mean: do you think the judge in this court case would suddenly see feng shui as a proper field of study, just because the question of Sanyuan Jiuyun vs Eryuan Bayun (whatever that may mean) gets settled?

    Obviously it will take a lot more than that.
    To be a proper field of knowledge you need to have at minimum a set of core principles that are demonstrably true. That sets the outlines of the field, and then you have a basis to work from.
    Only then you have a standardized field, that will not be seen as completely questionably by this judge or anybody else.


    You say: “That brings us to the question of standards, which can only be formed when everyone agrees, there is nothing objective about standards…”EOQ

    But that’s my point: if the standards you try to set have “nothing objective” , then you will never get everyone to agree on it.
    It takes “something objective” to get everyone to agree.

    For example , in your other post you mention what happened to fields like acupuncture and TCM.
    But they have been able to demonstrate the working and effectiveness of a sufficient part of their methods and cures.
    And that allowed them to create something like a standard accepted practice that all of them could agree to.

    Feng shui, on the other hand, is still arguing that there is nothing to prove, and how it cannot set any objective standards, and how it is not possible to produce evidence for the working of its cures.
    So it gets what it deserves: it is not seen as a proper field of study by this judge and many others.

    Let’s not forget: there are also standards as to how standards are set.
    And standards as to how to become an accepted field of knowledge.
    And feng shui still hasn’t made the cut.
    Why not?


  4. howardchoy Says:

    Hi Danny,

    Why not? A good question.

    I think part of it is because right now Feng Shui is full of argumentative types who would prefer to argue for argument sake, instead of working towards a common goal.

    Sad but it is true: a waste of intellectual vigor.


  5. Danny Says:

    So, and where are all these argumentative types?
    Because I like to argue, and I don’t see them anywhere in our field.

    Now , let’s take a look in what you say.
    If too much argument is something that prevents standards from happening, then feng shui should have been one of the first fields to have standards, especially in China where open argument and discussion are traditionally considered “bad” and avoided, all nicely working towards the common goal…

    I am sorry to say, but it is just the other way round.
    Feng shui has not achieved standards exactly because there is no ongoing argument worth talking about.
    What happens when there is proper argument within a certain field?
    Bad ideas and theories get disposed of, because they cannot be kept standing.
    What is left standing are then the theories that have a more firm footing and cannot be discarded so easily.
    Et voila, you are already well on your way to get down to the core theories that can become the backbone and the standard ideas of the field.

    It is proper argument that leads to standards.
    Without it, all you get is an ever growing body of loosely related ideas and theories, most of which have never been really demonstrated to be true.
    Everybody holds on to the theories he believes to be true, but doesn’t want to argue them, because that is “bad” and not harmonious.
    So your “common goal” is only a pipe dream.
    Deep down there is no agreement whatsoever in the field, but almost nobody openly disagrees.

    Without disposal of bad ideas, the overall quality of the field becomes ever more questionable, exactly what this judge suggested in his remarks.
    Also note his mention of the need for “independent objective assessment”.

    The problem is this Chinese idea that argument is bad and arguing with the masters is even worse.
    If that is true then the West would not have succeeded to set a standard in any field, because we have not stopped arguing since the renaissance.

    You live in Berlin, so all you need to do is go 10km East and ask the people how good things were when open argument was avoided and everyone was working for the common goal? What great standards did they set during that time?


  6. howardchoy Says:

    Hi Danny,

    I know you like to argue but I was not thinking of you at all, you don’t really matter when it comes to setting standards for Feng Shui. I was thinking of one teacher/master arguing and not talking to another and there are plenty of examples without naming names.

    Arguments are fine when they can lead to somewhere, but when they are only trivial pursues, like whether one should argue with someone about arguments in setting standards with someone who don’t really matter in setting the standards, it is better to spend the time elsewhere.


  7. Danny Says:

    Nobody matters when it comes to setting standards in fengshui.
    Evidence and arguments will matter, because that’s what will be needed if you want everybody to agree to some standard.
    “Independent objective assessment”, as our good judge called it.
    You are right that I am not the person to set standards in the filed, simply because I am not even an active practitioner. But that puts me more in the “independent” category. And you can see for yourself how welcome my attempts at “objective assessment” are in our field.
    Those who don’t matter in setting the standards, they matter in testing and questioning those standards.

    I don’t understand your other sentence: “I was thinking of one teacher/master arguing and not talking to another …”

    If they are not talking to another then how are they arguing?

    And arguments are always fine, regardless whether they lead somewhere or not. Just like some people go jogging around the block. It also leads nowhere, but it keeps them fit. Everyone decides from himself whether he wants to jog or not, and how many rounds he wants to go today.
    This is example of something where no standard is needed.
    But you are already trying.


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