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Clash of The Witties: The Wrabbiter vs. The Psychic at The Park
For this post, let’s talk about a real-life intellectual skirmish that happened to this guy…
Yes, that guy. That guy’s name is Jai, some small-time computer teacher from Davao del Sur, Philippines. He is known to this dear platform of ours as…
You wanna know the life story of that son-of-a-b***h? Well, you’re in the wrong article. There is another post for that. Let’s just say it’s “a story for another day.”
For now, though, let’s read about something that the guy has been babbling about for his previous articles. Something like “How supernaturalism should be ignored and dismissed because… believing in them would make you irrational, and maybe… stupid.
Now before you rant at him as the one who’s irrationally good at insulting you, let us first take a look from his personal experience about a man he met who claimed to have the capability of guessing anything about him, and in telling future events. Let’s read the guy’s narration of his encounter with a psychic, and how that supernaturalist was put to shame because of illogical and irrational thinking.
There was this day, a few years ago when a group of my students told me about this young man in the park near our school. This man they said, was an expert in peeking into their minds, and that the guy could allegedly poke about possible future events.
Knowing that I've always been an adamant skeptic, they coaxed me into facing the man.
“He guessed everything about me! He was absolutely right in all aspects!” exclaimed one girl.
“Go ahead Sir, try it so you will finally change your belief about fortune telling!,” another girl blurted out.
Feeling the electricity of excitement coursing through my body, I took a piece of paper and wrote down a few words on it. I folded the paper, stuffed it in my pocket, and walked through the park to face the man.
The news must have spread like wildfire as I saw that hordes of my students and friends ran through the spot on the park where the mind-reader was sitting. Obviously, they want to witness an embarrassing downfall, that of the psychic's, or mine. Either way, they are in, for one heck of “a head-on collision.”
Before I approached the man, I said to my students with great confidence: “In a few minutes, you will find out and witness for yourself... that man is nothing but a fraud.” The man was in his early-30's. Beside him are his companions– mediums and fortune-tellers too, I presumed. In front of him was a monobloc table with some paraphernalia of their trade.
I approached him, smiled, and sat on the chair across him. After doing the usual preliminary pleasantries, he then “unleashed his powers” and affirmed the following statements with some little elaborations to me:
1. “You have an analytical mind.”
2. “You often skip meals, and rarely eat on time.”
3. “Many girls admire you.”
4. “You experience problems with your lovelife.”
In every punctuation, he makes as he said the above statements, all of my students surrounding us exclaimed in unison: “correct!” as if to prove to me that the man indeed has superpowers. The man tried to expound further, attempting to probe into my future and made predictions. But in my agitation, I asked him: “How wide is the scope by which you can guess things about me?”
“Wide enough for you or anyone,” he answered
“So you can guess anything about me?” I added.
He replied: “Everything!” he did so by spreading his arms as if urging me to deliver whatever blow or attack I might have at my disposal. In that case, an intellectual tactic.
I did exactly what I thought he wants me to do– fire away my payload. I took out the folded piece of paper and placed it in the middle of the table between us. I then gave out the real challenge I have in mind for him. “If you can truly guess 'everything', can you please tell our audience what's written on this piece of paper?”
To my amusement, the man replied with a bunch of nonsense: “Actually, we humans are comprised of three aspects, body soul, and spirit. We are–”
“That's not what I asked. What I want you to do... is tell the people here, the content of this piece of paper,” I interrupted.
He then boasted about things like how he studied in Ateneo, the town where he came from, and what other achievements he obtained from places like this, and places like that, of which I interrupted again with a seemingly dominant tone: “Can you guess the content of this paper or not?”
He directly answered: “No.”
I loudly replied, “Thank you.” I took a 50-peso bill from my wallet, the minimum payment for his 'services', held his hand and shook it gently. I stood up and walked briskly back to my classroom, savoring the sweetness of my victory.
Why was the man incapable of guessing what I wrote on that piece of paper? The simple answer is that he is not capable of doing so, nobody is... not in this lifetime, not in his, not in yours, or mine. Telepathy, an ability to read or transmit information using only brain signals is a trick employed by magicians and illusionists.
Even Harry Houdini and Criss Angel, two of the greatest magicians in their respective generations openly claimed that their public demonstrations are nothing but products of intense training and strategic machinations. No matter how amazed you are at how mentalists can guess what a person is thinking, you will even be more amazed at how you or anyone, with basic psychological and logical knowledge, can actually do it too.
Me? A Mentalist? You might ask. Yes, you can certainly be, or at least understand how it works if... you can understand the following.
Let's debunk the mind-reader's statements one by one.
Statement 1 : “You have an analytical mind.” - This was his first statement which was fairly accurate. Like a highly trained warrior, street magicians and illusionists would perform the usual reconnaissance: they do a perimeter sweep, not with the intent to hunt or hurt any enemy, but to gather sufficient information that can help them ensnare their prey, in this case, people who want to have a glimpse of what the future holds for them.
Psychics, spiritualists, and fortune-tellers would be foolish enough to embark on fame or money-making spree without gathering enough intel about their potential clients. Seeing the school building which is just a stone's throw away from where he sits, he would have easily figured that I'm one of the teachers working there.
My clothes would have easily given it away as well, as I was wearing the typical polo-barong and slacks– standard clothing for male teachers everywhere. In addition, there is a considerable number of my students surrounding us who loudly call me “Sir.”
This man is a teacher working in that computer school, he easily obtained this knowledge considering that the words “computer technical school” are placed in large letters in front of the place where I work. As a young man himself and as a former student of Ateneo as he claimed, the psychic could just be as initiated to the tech world as me.
Knowing this, he as well as anyone else could easily declare that working and [teaching] with computers greatly requires an analytical mind. Is it really mind-reading? Of just plain smart-guessing? Think for yourself.
Statement 2 : “You often skip meals, and rarely eat on time.” - Upon hearing the chorus with the word “correct!” from my students, I would have immediately reprimanded them as if we were still in our classroom. Why? Because it labels them as fools. As a programmer, I've always been very clear about one of my most important rules– logic, should be present in our everyday dealings with our lives.
Failing to siphon logical analysis first before concluding on something as major as the event we were at, is an act of foolishness. They disobeyed one of my strictest orders, and as their mentor, it agitates me. The simplest logic would be all that's needed to debunk this. It feels disappointing on my part that they didn't even try debunking it at all.
At the moment when we exchanged some pleasantries, the psychic performed the usual “palm examination” used by people of his kind. This protocol instantly gave him the idea that I don't perform household chores that much since calluses are not that evident in my relatively smooth palms. (due to the nature of my profession and that I'm a bachelor living on my own)
This could easily give him the inkling that I don't cook my own meals. And since I often eat at fast-food halls as most young single men do, the psychic was in fact accurate that I rarely eat on time. But this truth is so common not only in myself but in other career-driven people as well. Anyone could know this.
So what's so special about some park mind-reader who can tell this alleged prediction? Is it even a prediction at all?
Statement 3 : “Many girls admire you.” - Psychologists call it “the hero worship mentality.” Young men and women and even the older ones idolize somebody at some point in their lives. In the four corners of the classroom, the teacher is the student's hero, their 'man of steel', their 'knight in shining armor', or whatever tagline they may think is suitable.
Speaking from experience, any teacher could certainly agree with this. And since most of us would not dispute this fact, then it can't be disputed too that teachers no matter how pretty or ugly they are, will in fact harness a considerable number of admirers.
I am not here to brag about how attractive I am, but as an average-looking young man escorted by some female students at that time, any stranger on that occasion including the psychic himself would easily discern that his client indeed has some admirers. With this settled, the next statement would then be debunked easily.
Statement 4 : “You experience problems with your lovelife.” - Not seeing a wedding ring when he touched my hand and the absence of a ring mark (in case I removed it for some reason) easily gives out the idea that I'm a single guy who most likely has a girlfriend. Add that to the fact that I'm in the line of work where I get to be surrounded by young females most of the time, anyone can easily get that I do have problems with my lovelife.
Everyone knows what it is, the girl sees her guy spending time with other attractive members of her species who flirt a lot. The guy occasionally, flirts back (yours, truly? Guilty as charged.) and World War III erupts. (pun intended) The point is, it's normal for young men and women in a relationship or any couple for that matter to occasionally fight.
It is so normal in fact that no relationship is ever called 'real' if couples don't quarrel or argue at all. The same kind of guessing was used by the psychic in my other students who underwent the procedure before me. They were easily ensnared. Had they used basic psychology and plain common sense, they would have easily spotted that the guy was in fact... a fraud.
Ponder upon this situation. What if I approached him dressed in shabby clothes, with some tools for carpentry? He would most likely come up with these deductions: I have problems with my health; I always ask for cash-advance from my foreman; I'm worried about where I would find the next construction site, and any other set of problems and situations related to a construction worker's lifestyle.
Had I decided to appear as an entirely different person other than a teacher or a construction worker, then the mind-reader would still come up with 'predictions' that suit that person's image. See? It can be affirmed that it's not mind-reading, just plain and basic psychology.
There will be more articles similar to these in the future, folks. Until then… Excelsior!