Psychotherapy Services in South West London

Beliefs in Extraordinary Powers

Sometimes  we fall into the trap of attributing superpowers to individuals when the truth is that virtually anyone who is reasonably healthy would be able to perform the feats in question without any special training. Most of us have just near tried. Perhaps the prime example of such an alleged ability is fire walking the practice of walking on to coals or cinders. There is no doubt that the sight of someone calmly strolling across glowing embers with bare feet certainly looks impressive and the embers are indeed extremely hot. Yet if the bed of hot coals has been properly prepared this is something that anyone can do. The explanation lies purely in the physics of he situation. Different substances at the same temperature contain different amounts of heat energy and also differ in terms of heat conductivity. Air can hold very little heat energy and is a poor conductor. Metal holds a lot of heat energy and is an excellent conductor. The glowing ember of a well prepared fire walk do not contain as much heat energy as their red glow might lead us to believe. Provided that you walk across at a reasonable pace and you do not try to walk to far your feet will not burn. A word of warning before readers rush out to prepare their own fire walks. Accidents can and do happen. Some years ago Professor Richard Wiseman collaborated with BBC1’s Tomorrow’s World programme to test the belief that successful fire walking is a paranormal phenomenon involving a protective force field around the fire walker’s body. Three fire walkers jumped off the coals after about 20 feet, suffering burns to the soles of their feet, much to the amusement of the commentators. Being properly sceptical demands suspending judgement until you have had the chance to assess the evidence in support of a claim. It is important to adopt an attitude of open minded doubt towards all unproven claims until you have had the opportunity to properly assess the evidence. It is not about dismissing claims simply because they exceed you personal area of expertise. Very occasionally, amazing claims do turn out to be true – but more often than not, they don’t.

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