Last week, a woman in india was tied to a tree and beaten by a mob for being a witch. When this headline first came up on my blackberry, I thought ‘oh great, another story about ignorance causing people to claim some poor woman is a witch.’ But when I read it in detail, the story has more to it. The woman was actually claiming to be a faith healer and was selling her services as such. She was paid by a man to help his wife:
Ram Ayodhya, who could face up to seven years in prison for his role in the attack, told police he was justified in beating the woman, Tiwari said.
Ayodhya said he paid her to use magic and prayer to improve his wife’s health.
When his wife’s condition deteriorated, Ayodhya accused her of performing black magic and weighing the same as a duck, Tiwari said, and a crowd soon gathered and tied her to the tree.
This is one reason why Sylvia Browne’s book “Bringing My Teachings and Love to India” isn’t written yet.
Now, I am certainly not condoning this man’s behavior, or the behavior of the crowd in resorting to violence. But I think this story demonstrates the hidden dangers of pseudoscience. By making claims that don’t actually have any foundation, you can get into some serious trouble if you can’t produce what you claim you can. And if you claim to do woo crap like faith healing, it’s tough to scoff when the howling mob (literally in this case) accuses you of doing DIFFERENT woo crap like black magic and witchcraft.
Maybe she should have claimed that there was a more powerful wizard somewhere LIKE MAYBE YOU SIR RIGHT THERE who was casting the bad juju and she was actually fighting to keep her alive as long as she could. It’s not like that would sound too crazy for these people to swallow.
Take heart, though, there are folks trying to fight the good fight in India. As I mentioned in a previous post, the India Rationalist Association challenged one of the top tantriks in India to demonstrate his power on live TV. He failed and now the show is available for your viewing pleasure on YouTube – Part 1, Part 2Â & Part 3.