11 November, 2010

Black Magic Fail

In 2008, an Indian man called Sanal Edamaruku agreed for a famous tantra master to try and kill him with 'black magic' on live TV. The event was apparently watched by millions of people in India, many of whom live in fear of this type of black magic. Scheduled programs were dropped to allow for the live pictures to beamed across the country. As described by Edamaruku:

He boasted that he was able to kill anyone by mantra and tantra within three minutes. I grabbed my chance to put him in check and offered myself for a test. Caught on air, he couldn't escape without losing face – and his high-profile clientele. So our unprecedented experiment began.

As you can see, the tantrik tries lots of different methods and Edamaruku just stands there and laughs...

Following the failure to kill his volunteer, the tantrik suggests that he is invoking a god to protect himself. Edamaruku just laughs this suggestion off and explains that he is an atheist. The tantrik, clearly grasping at straws at this stage, claims that the black magic must be done at night, and so Edamaruku calls his bluff and offers his services again...that very night.

With no way to escape, he upped the stakes and agreed to perform the "ultimate destruction ceremony" that would kill me dead sure. With ratings soaring, the programme overran, rolling on and on in "breaking news" mode. The channel announced another round of our epic battle for the night show.

Not surprisingly, the black magic had NO effect whatsoever. Most importantly, millions of people saw that a superstition they had grown up believing to be true was actually a load of nonsense.

Part of the success of this event was the fact that the tantrik clearly believed in his abilities and so agreed to demonstrate them on live TV. Unfortunately, most practitioners of pseudoscience are less eager to directly test their claims in such a mainstream way (although a few have tried, and failed). Perhaps they know if they did so, the results would be similar to the above.

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