Current research into feng shui
Feng shui research includes numerous scientific papers on feng shui (see some references below) and more than reference feng shui as well as related research from environmental psychology, neuroscience, cognitive ergonomics, social psychology, priming and so on. There is a new Academic Journal of Feng Shui, and several international conferences on Scientific Feng Shui and the Built Environment have examined feng shui from a scientific perspective.
Feng shui research includes:
1) Descriptions and definitions of feng shui
2) An understanding and explanation of how feng shui works
3) An evaluation of different feng shui schools, classical and modern and their methods
4) Applications of feng shui for homes, workplaces and public spaces
5) ‘Not only proof’ – alternative and interdisciplinary ways of looking at feng shui
6) Ways of disproving feng shui claims
7) Cross-referencing feng shui with other environmental sciences and disciplines
Types of potential feng shui research
There are many types of research methods and approaches, and depending on what is studied; an appropriate research method should be employed. For example, action research develops from the perspective that research should not be driven by an academic agenda with the aim of producing journal articles but needs directly benefit those whos lives, environmental circumstances and experiences are being studied.
Why and how do I research feng shui?
Over the past 45 years of my interest in natural sciences, dowsing, vastu and feng shui as well as environmental psychology I’ve collected a huge amount of research on these disciplines (more about me as a feng shui consultant). I’m naturally curious about how things and people work. I look for patterns of difference, what’s different and what’s the difference that makes the difference. My initial background was art, and design and I’ve trained myself at pattern recognition, systematic, synergistic, and rhizomatic thinking as well as scientific thinking with my environmental psychology studies. I also studied philosophy, which helped me to become a better and more discerning thinker as well as to understand how concepts are created. I am an avid reader and speed reader, which helps to process a huge amount of information (I also run speed reading courses in London).
The way I do research is always to check the source and the original papers. To find papers, I mostly use Google Scholar, Academia.edu, and Google Alert for specific research topics. I usually quickly read the executive summary and conclusions and check the methodology. Not all research has the same quality of scientific and statistical value. There is good and not so good research. In quantitative research, the first thing you learn with statistics is that if you “torture data long enough, it will give you the results you want”. This echoes the famous saying, that there are “lies, damn lies and statistics” which is probably the most repeated quote on the power of statistics, but it was Mark Twain who made a more accurate observation when he said, “facts are stubborn things, statistics are pliable”.
Research can help us become better feng shui consultants and improve the services we offer to clients
My professional priority is to spend 50% of my time in creative, new, intellectual, research work; 30% of my time in teaching and that includes writing and 20% of my time in the actual work with clients and companies. On average, depending on the time available, I spend a few solid months a year doing deep feng shui research, which includes attending conferences and webinars and writing which some of it you can read on my feng shui blog and Twitter @fengshuist. My humble, professional commitment is to have at least one thousand hours of creative, research work a year (the Feng Shui Society’s professional development requirement is only 30 CPD credits/year which is about 16 hours).
Research on feng shui matters
Involvement in research provides opportunities to be part of a professional community and to make a difference and contribution to the development of more efficient services for clients and the public. Involvement in feng shui research includes the willingness to use research findings as a prism to reflect on the experience of working with clients and companies. Although there are a few professional feng shui organisations and some try to do research, there isn’t one umbrella organisation that would provide a valuable research resource for feng shui professional community and the public.
One reason why there is so little research literature on feng shui is because feng shui approaches are fragmented or are not up to an acceptable, professional standard.
Many feng shui consultants develop an interest in research during their training but struggle to sustain the interest and engagement after that. It can be very frustrating for modern feng shui consultants that the feng shui research literature that has been dominated by classical feng shui ideas and does not provide sufficient space for new, modern, emerging perspectives. Fortunately, modern environmental sciences and disciplines such as environmental psychology, cognitive ergonomics, priming, electromagnetics, geopathics and neuroscience provided insights into how people respond to different environmental stressors.
Evidence-based feng shui
I’ve been passionate about evidence-based feng shui since I’ve started studying this discipline. I always have been wondering why not use more evidence in feng shui. The use of randomised controlled trials, where you set up control groups and placebos to ensure the results of the research and experiments are reliable are standard in many disciplines, notably in medicine. There are no cast in stone laws of feng shui keeping us from designing and building a more evidence-based feng shui. And that’s what I’m doing. I’m working on my PhD in feng shui, which will be practical and relevant to modern working environments. The future of feng shui is evidence-based, and that’s where I’m putting my attention and focus, long-term. Also, I’m working on defining what chi/qi is, how it works, and what are intrinsic qualities of qi as well as measuring it.
Feng shui at the inflection point
An inflection point is a turning point or a major change in any discipline or business. Feng shui was born at a particular historical moment, in a particular place, a long time ago. Every discipline develops and changes which can be graphed on a timeline as cycles of growth and decline, which can predict its success. How things decline or collapse? Gradually and then suddenly – as most things in life. How can you predict when something is going to grow or decline? By looking at early warnings that things are about to shift?
One of the ways in which research on feng shui can inform this practice is to give the consultants insight into what life is like for people with particular type of envionmental issues.
One of them is research. When there are not enough people putting energy into research and into the next thing, sooner or later it will become obsolete in the same way as candles went out of business when the lightbulb was invented. Another aspect is that discipline hasn’t adapted to the demands and needs of modern life. In the case of feng shui, the public at the moment is more interested in remedying the immediate dangers of electromagnetic pollution than obscure ‘astrological/energetic’ calculations for the new year.
Research on priming
Dixon, N.F. Preconscious Processing. NY: Wiley, 1981.
Tulving, E. and D.L. Schacter. “Priming and Human Memory System.” Quoted by G.W. Farthing in The Psychology of Consciousness. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1992.
“Over 200+ studies have shown such priming effects on impression formation as well as on social behaviour. An extraordinarily wide range of behaviours can be affected by subtle environmental stimuli, such as walking speed, speech volume, academic performance, economic decisions.” John Bargh, Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science, Yale University
Watch John Bargh, who is the world leading expert on priming (or get his book Before You Know It: The Unconscious Reasons We Do What We Do)
Research on electromagnetic pollution
There are over 6ooo papers on electromagnetic pollution and radiation – here’s a sample of them.
2,300 studies by the US Navy showing biological impacts of EMF: Naval Medical Research Institute 2300 Studies on EMF Health Effects
2016 NTP study preliminary results showing that cell phone radiation causes cancer in rats. This $25 million study is the gold standard of EMF research and makes it clear that our current wireless safety standards do not adequately protect the public.
2015 study showing 2.4 GHz WiFi decreases sperm function. Researchers conclude that “there should be a major concern regarding the exposure to Wi-Fi networks existing in the vicinity of our living places.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4503846/
German report on 878 Russian studies from 1960-1997 regarding the health effects of EMF. This report was buried by the German government as soon as it was published because of the consequences of its findings.
“Captured Agency” report on how the FCC is completely dominated by the wireless industry that it supposedly regulates. It is published June 2015 by investigative journalist Norm Alster and the Harvard University Center for Ethics. Mr. Alster also wrote about the Dot Com Crash and the 2008 Financial Crisis before they happened. Click for free PDF or Kindle versions.
Declassified 1976 Defense Intelligence Agency report showing that military personnel exposed to non-thermal microwave radiation experienced “headaches, fatigue, dizziness, irritability, sleeplessness, depression, anxiety, forgetfulness and lack of concentration.” Defense Intelligence Agency 1976 Report on Biological Effects of EMF
This presentation by Dr. Martin Pall in Norway November 2014 shows that our understanding of the health effects of weak EMF’s is about to completely change.
Research on feng shui
Mak, M. Y. (2004). Application of Feng Shui Knowledge to Preliminary Design Evaluation using Knowledge-Based Expert Systems Approach. PhD Thesis, University of Newcastle, Australia
He, Xiaoxin. (1998). Feng Shui: Chinese Tradition in a Manchester Context. PhD thesis. University of Manchester
Lee, S.-H. (1986). Feng Shui: Its Context and Meaning. Doctoral dissertation, Cornell University. UMI
Scientific Feng Shui for the Built Environment – Fundamentals and Case Studies
Jill Poulston, Rene Bennett, (2012) “Fact, fiction, and feng shui: an exploratory study”, Facilities, Vol. 30 Issue: 1/2, pp.23-39, https://doi.org/10.1108/02632771211194257
Feng Shui: Its Impacts on the Asian Hospitality Industry International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Measuring efficiency of the hotel and restaurant sector: the case of India International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Kaup A.R., Harmell A.L., Yaffe K. (2019) Conscientiousness Is Associated with Lower Risk of Dementia among Black and White Older Adults (download pdf)
Bi Xia Chen, Yuei Nakama (2004) A summary of research history on Chinese Feng-shui and application of Feng-shui principles to environmental issues
Research on dopamine and prediction
Schultz W, Dayan P, Montague PR. A neural substrate of prediction and reward. Science 275:1593-1599 (1997).
Eshel N, Bukwich M, Rao V, Hemmelder V, Tian J, Uchida N. Arithmetic and local circuitry underlying dopamine prediction errors. Nature 525:243-246 (2015).
Omelchenko N, Sesack SR. Ultrastructural analysis of local collaterals of rat ventral tegmental area neurons: GABA phenotype and synapses onto dopamine and GABA cells. Synapse 63:895-906 (2009).
Cohen JY, Haesler S, Vong L, Lowell BB, Uchida N. Neuron-type-specific signals for reward and punishment in the ventral tegmental area. Nature. 482:85-88 (2012).
Richmond, L. L., & Zacks, J. M. (2017). Constructing experience: Event models from perception to action. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 21(12), 962–980.