Wednesday 13 August 2014

Debunking godmen

After Leo Igwe's talk on Witchcraft Belief, Misogyny and Murder in the 21st Century, Babu Gogieni gave a short presentation of witchcraft issues in India. He said victims of witchcraft accusation in India are frequently members of the Dalit (untouchable) caste and they are sometimes tortured and put to death in horrific ways.

Then he switched to a somewhat different issue - the astonishing powers over nature claimed and used as a way of making a living by 'godmen'. As part of the movement to debunk them, Indian skeptics, including Narendra Nayak stage demonstrations of such magic arts as walking across beds of burning coals, lying on beds of nails, pulling trucks with hooks passed through the skin of one's back, the idea being to relate the science behind the superstition. I could relate to this technique and I'm not surprised it gets a lot of attention... and I'm curious to know how well it works.

Here's Nayak at work on News 24 India. You might need to turn on the captions (bottom right buttons).Oh, and part 1 wouldn't work when I looked so we're starting with part 2: How to Become Heatproof Using Scientific Trickery.

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