Skeptical Energy

A common admission from those who claim to have supernatural powers (and something that is illustrated well in Derren Brown’s new show) is that their supernatural abilities dry up whenever there is a skeptic in the room.

This is the thing that stops them getting thoroughly debunked when they meet someone willing to do a scientific test on their “gift” – be it reading minds, talking to the dead, or X-Ray vision – they simply explain their failure in any tests (or refuse to do any such tests at all) by claiming that “skeptical energy” is inhibiting their power.

This is a perfect way of making sure they can continue making extraordinary claims whilst at the same time avoiding any opportunity for doubt.

Or maybe I am being too harsh here – maybe there is some truth in this…

In the (now cancelled) hit US TV show Heroes, many seemingly ordinary citizens have amazing gifts. Some can read minds, others can move objects telepathically. But one person – known as “the Haitian” – has something very similar to the skeptical energy. Whenever he comes near someone with an ability, he drains them of their power. He is a skeptic.

Believe what you will about the supernatural, but I sleep safe at night knowing that if there are people out there who can move objects with their minds or shoot lightning from their fingers, all it takes is a bit of reason and a basic understanding of the scientific method to render them powerless.