So I’ve only managed to see my SceptiKids twice this term. Sports days, exams, lunchtime meetings and the Queen’s birthday have made things a little tricky. Fortunately though we were able to meet and discuss a very special topic, one dear to most sceptic’s hearts.
In a discussion that made me feel very old, it turned out that most teenagers have no idea who Uri Gellar is. For those of us over the age of 18 we know him as the mentalist who decided to tell the world that his powers were genuine. A large sum of money later and he’s one of the most famous people in the world. Nowadays though his name has taken a bit of a back seat. Fortunately for us the magicians most known by high schoolers are people like Derren Brown and Penn & Teller. This is a good thing.
Fortunately I’d done some homework on Mr. Gellar and was able to talk to the kids a little about him. Despite him being unknown to them they were still able to understand the ethical problems involved when a magician tells people their powers are real.
We see countless examples every day of how easy people are to fool. I wouldn’t see so many psychic readers on my way to school if they weren’t. It’s pure exploitation and anybody who knowingly deceives people in this way is guilty of it. Not just magicians but peddlers of alternatives to medicines, tarot readers, mediums and more. Sure some of these people genuinely believe in their abilities but their are plenty who don’t.
As Tim Minchin put it in his AMAZING spoken word piece, Storm:
Reading Auras is like reading minds
Or star-signs or tea-leaves or meridian lines
These people aren’t plying a skill,
They are either lying or mentally ill.
What’s great is that so many teenagers can see this. It may not be something that think about a lot but as soon as you ask them “Is it ok for a magician to make people think their powers are real?” you can be guaranteed of getting a great conversation out of them.