Instead I will remind you that I mentioned psychics the other day. I do not believe in psychics. I should clarify that. I do not believe people have supernatural powers to read the future, discern secrets of the past, read minds, or even bend spoons.
This puts me solidly on the side of one James Randi, otherwise known as The Amazing Randi, a magician and escape artist whose Million Dollar Challenge has yet to uncover a real psychic.
I do not consider all psychics frauds. A fraud is someone who pretends to be what he is not, like Bernie Madoff. Or Uri Geller. Some people who call themselves psychics are not frauds but they are not actually psychics either. They truly believe they have these supernatural powers.
If you follow this blog at all, you know I am atheist. This means more, to me, than not believing in gods or religion, it means not believing in anything supernatural. No ghosts, no spirits, no auras surrounding people's bodies revealing anything about them, no telekinesis, no mind-reading, no out of body experiences (AKA “astral flights”), or anything like that.
But I am intrigued by such people. The ones that believe they have powers, that is. The frauds are well aware they can't and merely perform tricks.
If anyone reads this post, I might get a few comments or emails telling me how wrong I am and possibly relating stories of some amazing feat or ability of someone they have seen or known. If you wish to believe, go ahead. So long as you don't pay them more than you can afford I see no harm in believing. But I would like to present my view on what the abilities are that they appear to have.
We know the brain is an amazing organ and we really do not understand how it works. On a rudimentary scale, we do. But not much more. I like to think of it as an organic computer attached to a number of sensors (ears, eyes, tongue/taste buds, nasal passages, and skin) which feed it data and which it absorbs and records. It is not magical, however, anymore than that computer you own is.
Think of what were called “Idiot Savants” at one time. The term is, rightly, seen as derogatory. These people are seemingly “idiots” but possess some ability way beyond what is perceived as their capabilities. Beyond, sometimes, a “normal” person's ability. Heck, we have all seen “Rain Man” by now and know what I am talking about here.
I place psychics in this category. Like the savant, the so-called psychics I speak of have no idea how they do what they seemingly do. What I think is going on, in my view, is that they collect data subconsciously, crunch it, and produce something which appears to be a supernatural feat.
Since we do not yet understand this (yet), it seems magical.