On Second Thought:
Opening the mind to the possibilities . . .
When it comes to psychics, Tarot card readers, ghost whisperers and other things “mystical,” colour me a confirmed skeptic. It’s not that I don’t agree there are things in the universe we don’t understand; if that were the case, scientists would pretty much be out of a job. It’s just that I doubt the things we don’t understand are trying to scare the heck out of humans or relay their lottery number picks to us.
Genetically, I shouldn’t be a skeptic. On my dad’s side, I’m Irish – you know, the good folks who brought you unicorns, banshees and leprechauns. On my mom’s side are the Scots, a nation that traditionally begged deliverance from “ghosties and ghoulies and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night.”
I totally see the appeal of ghost stories around a campfire, in the same way I get why people like to read science fiction. But there’s that key word – fiction. When crystal ball readers step out of the realm of Halloween tales and start accepting online credit card payments for their prognostications, then I start taking issue with the whole idea. You don’t see William Shatner offering to actually beam anyone up, do you?
And because I believe fortune tellers and their kin are either fabricating their predictions out of whole cloth or wilfully deluding themselves, I think they should have to be tested for accuracy before doling out “predictions.” If someone gets their tea leaves read as a harmless lark, that’s one thing. Heck, who hasn’t glanced at their horoscope occasionally, hoping for a bit of insight? But if people are going to make major life decisions based on advice supposedly coming from their late grandmother via a Ouija board, that’s another thing altogether. Call me Christopher Hitchens, but I think this kind of thinking is dangerous.
But wait, I hear many of you crying, why are you being such a killjoy? Don’t you have room in your heart for a little bit of magic? Absolutely. In fact, I’m certain it’s all around us. Dew glittering on a spider web. A litter of kittens sleeping in a furry, purring pile. A brownie recipe that finally, after umpteen revisions, delivers that perfect combination of sweetness and chewiness. A symphony orchestra and a choir performing Beethoven’s Ninth in perfect harmony, or the Rolling Stones electrifying an arena of 25,000 fans. Talking late into the night with a close friend. The way your heartbeat skitters when you first meet the person you’ll eventually marry – and the fact that you even meet that person at all.
These are all magical glimpses into the intricate wonder of evolution, chemistry, human achievement or human emotions. They and countless other marvels are available to all of us, without a single seance, and many don’t cost a penny.
So, sure, label me a skeptic, if you’re talking about palm reading, crystals and auras. But don’t tell me I don’t believe in magic.