Feng Shui, literally “wind-water”, is an ancient Chinese system of aesthetics, used in architecture and interior design to optimize the flow of “chi” or “qi”, a supposed vital force emanating throughout the universe.
Chi is frequently translated as “energy flow” and is often compared to Western meanings for air, breath, or spirit. Practitioners of Feng Shui believe that chi flows through everything, and that “positive” chi can benefit the people who receive it (physical and emotional well-being, wealth, etc). Alleged masters of Feng Shui can supposedly detect metaphysical energies and give directions for their optimal flow.
There is some common sense to the notion that living with – rather than against – nature benefits people as well as our environment. It is equally sensible to believe that our lives can be affected by our physical and emotional environment. Consider the difference between spending time in a jail cell and the lobby of the Ritz Carlton.
Feng Shui is pseudoscience. Evidence for its effectiveness is based solely on anecdotes. There is also a lack of a plausible method of action, which leads to conflicting advice from different practitioners. Adherents try to explain this by arguing that there are different schools of thought; critics use it as evidence of the fact that Feng Shui is based on mere guesswork.
The magicians Penn & Teller produced an episode of their television show Bullshit! that featured several Feng Shui practitioners in the US giving inconsistent, contradictory and often strange advice on how best to design a home. The show argues that if Feng Shui was a science (as the American Institute of Feng Shui claims), it would feature a consistent method.
There is no evidence to support the existence of “chi”. There is no evidence to support the idea that a particular design of one’s home is superior to any other (aside from good/bad taste of course), or that it has any effect on a person’s health or well-being.