By Guest blogger Tkingdoll (aka Teek)
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We can fly, you know. We just don’t know how to think the right thoughts and levitate ourselves off the ground.Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã‚Â – Michael Jackson
I take the name Ã¢â‚¬ËœskepticÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ very seriously. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a label IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve applied to myself rather than one thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been thrust upon me, so I feel I have a certain responsibility to it. Heck, I even wear the word in gold on my lapel.
You can be a skeptic at home on your own and never tell anyone, as I found out recently when I accidentally Ã¢â‚¬ËœoutedÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ someone to their bemused friend, or you can be the militant dogmatic kind, demanding evidence from small children crying at monsters in their closet. Or you can be somewhere in between, which is where I usually place myself. As a skeptic, I want to challenge claims and help my friends to educate themselves in matters of flummery. As a human being, I want to be popular and not get punched.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m usually pretty good at striking a balance, presenting the skeptical viewpoint without being obnoxious or patronising my buddies. However, a few months ago I failed in my duty to be a good skeptic, and instead became a raving lunatic. I was based in a clientÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s office for a few months, and became quite pally with the staff, most of whom had rather wooish leanings. Over time, I actually made some pretty good progress in debunking fad diets (blood type food groups, anyone?), Derek Acorah, and ghosts, but my patience was wearing a little thin in the face of a never-ending stream of nonsense.
On this particular day, four of us were sitting in the canteen, discussing colonic irrigation and rating the Hollywood superhunks, as you do. One of my colleagues, Charlotte, starting talking about her brotherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s success with yogic flying.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yogic jumping, you mean,Ã¢â‚¬Â I snorted, perhaps a little derisively.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“No no,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã‚Â she replied defensively, Ã¢â‚¬Å“heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s told me that he meditates cross-legged and then rises from the ground and floats slowly across the room.Ã¢â‚¬Â
I took a deep breath. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ErmÃ¢â‚¬Â¦thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not physically possible. Gravity, you know.Ã¢â‚¬Â No-one can argue with gravity, surely? This debunk would be a cinch.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yes it is.Ã¢â‚¬Â Charlotte looked at me, totally serious. Ã¢â‚¬Å“HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s part of a big group and they all do it. Are you saying heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lying?Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ha! Well, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s certainly not F-lying! Ahem. I kept a reasonable tone despite a rising disbelief that an intelligent 30-year-old colleague could honestly think this. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t doubt that he believes heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s flying, Ã¢â‚¬Å“ I told her, Ã¢â‚¬Å“but what heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s experiencing is most likely to be a hallucination.Ã¢â‚¬Â I explained how this could occur through meditation, and I also pointed out that even the official Transcendental Mediation guys state that flying is not (yet) possible.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“No, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sorry,Ã¢â‚¬Â She said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“but youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re wrong. I know my brother and heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not stupid. If he says he can fly, I believe him.Ã¢â‚¬Â Well! That told me! I looked at my other two colleagues for backup. Surely two smart middle-aged guys wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t buy in to this crackpot idea? Colin looked at me and shrugged, so I turned to Simon, who had previously been an ally in such debates.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“WellÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â he said slowly Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see why it shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be possible. After all, that university in America proved that ESP is real, so why not levitation?Ã¢â‚¬Â
A drawback to being an atheist is not having a god to plea to for help in situations like this. I was on my own. What should a good skeptic do? Calmly ask him if he was referring to the PEAR study, and explain the flaws? Pop down to my desk and grab my copy of Flim Flam with its revealing chapter on yogic flying? Email across a few choice links from Skepdic, perhaps? Yes, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what a good skeptic would do. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not, however, what I did. I jumped up, gave one last incredulous look at the three slack-jawed fools in front of me, tore my chair aside and before storming off screamed into their faces,
Ã¢â‚¬Å“PEOPLE CANÃ¢â‚¬â„¢T FLY, YOU F**KING IDIOTS!Ã¢â‚¬Â
*All names have been changed to protect the innocent, except Michael Jackson who has lawyers to do that.