1. Freq. derogatory. Religious belief that is characterized by vague, obscure, or confused spirituality; a belief system based on the assumption of occult forces, mysterious supernatural agencies, etc.
2. Mystical theology; belief in the possibility of union with or absorption into God by means of contemplation and self-surrender; belief in or devotion to the spiritual apprehension of truths inaccessible to the intellect.
Oxford English Dictionary Online
I quite enjoy that the OED lists the nature of the first meaning to be, in fact, derogatory. Vague, obscure or confused. This definition seems to sum up all of my qualms with mystical thinking.
The second definition ought to simply be an example of the first. Absorption into god? What would that even entail? Truths inaccessible to the intellect? Indeed, there is a lot of obscuration and confusion going on with this concept.
Why is it then, that so many purveyors of woo recruit the appeal of mysticism in order to woo (pun) readers and listeners to believing what they say without a shred of credible evidence? I see mysticism in the same light as I see faith. For some reason there is a population of people that find pleasure in not knowing the truth, in knowledge deficit, in a lack of real understanding. I can suppose that it is an easier road than individually seeking out answers which often require a mass of reading and understanding just to underpin the concept someone may be attempting to mystify.
Does it spark the imagination to cause fancies upon which the thinker derives pleasure? Does it satisfy a need to know by abrogating the responsibility to do just that?
These are things that distract me in the middle of my Medsurg exams, which I believe went well enough to not have to take that class again.