CHENNAI: Debunking superstitions and busting the ‘incredible’ tricks used by fake godmen to build their spiritual empire is all in a day’s work for him, admits President of the Indian Rationalists association Narendra Nayak.
Nayak, who also heads the Kannada Rationalist Association, has conducted 3,000 demonstrations explaining the science behind ‘miracles’ all over India, as well as different parts of the globe, including Australia, India and Greece. The dynamic rationalist has been featured in television programmes, including 'Is it Real?' by National Geographic and The Secret Swami by BBC, thanks to his ability to reach out to the public and help them in unravelling the truth with the backing of scientific facts.
Speaking to City Express on the sidelines of the Symposium on Science and Secularism organised by the Chennai Freethinkers, the regional chapter of the Nirmuktha organisation here, he delved into the realm of ‘miracles’ that are used as the first resort by Godmen to con believers.
Explaining the ‘cold reading techniques ’ such as reading the body signals of the client and indicative questions that are used by astrologers to make predictions and reading Nadi Josiyam in Vaitheeshwaran temple in Chidambaram, he says, “I even busted a Nadi Josiyam racket about two months ago in Vaitheeswaran temple. These astrologers claim to know about your previous birth and take people for a ride.”
Narendra Nayak, who was conferred with the Distinguished Service to Humanism award by the International Humanist and Ethical Union this year, says that the ideal way to debunk miracles is to demonstrate them and understand the scientific basis of the trick. In an exclusive demo to City Express, he laid bare the workings of the ‘truth-test’-the trick of burning a piece of camphor on a person’s tongue to verify if one was being truthful.
“Camphor has the unique property of sublimation.So, it directly converts from solid to gas. If I place the burning camphor on my tongue and bend down, the fumes go directly into the air and I won’t feel the heat,” he explains.
Underlining the need for public awareness about the myriad tricks used by fake Godmen to build confidence among their believers, he asserts the need for scientific temperament to avoid falling prey to such traps.
The versatile ‘miracle buster’ stuck to his agenda that was interspersed with humour, and demonstrated the clichéd tricks used by some fake godmen to con people at the gathering of the Nirmuktha organisation that promotes science and free thought. The myriad tricks, included the use of sleight of hand to draw Vibudhi out of the palm, the mind reading card trick — the art of picking out cards using the markings on them, and the rope trick used by quacks to convince believers that they had been cursed by the Lord Shani.
The highlight of the day was the time immemorial ruse of ‘drawing a gold chain out of thin air.’