Is it harmless to believe in a supernatural dimension? To claim to know the unknowable about life after death is surely a victimless crime...
The supposed harmlessness of beliefs is an argument atheists and skeptics are often expected to meet with wonder and novelty. Atheism and skepticism of contemporary belief systems is seen as curmudgeonry. Surely if there is no God, there is no harm in some people having such consolations. Surely a belief in life after death does little harm if it comforts those who need it?
Surely not. As evidenced by today's sham shamans: psychics.
Palm readers and Mystics are hardly a new affair. Religious groups from Bhutan to Bolivia stake their various claims to knowing what happens when we shake this mortal coil. In Britain, we have our very own Sally Morgan.
Now before I go in for the kill here, let me address the curmudgeonry charge. I am sure plenty of people go to see a Sally Morgan show for a laugh, and are simply impressed by her showmanship. Admittedly, a need to explore the afterlife can be served quite harmlessly through spiritualism as in ritual or prayer. As an atheist who believes in no such supernatural dimension, I see no harm in exploring life after death through poetry, music or any other ritual which sounds the depth of human emotion and thought on such a profoundly human issue. I would not be without Shakespeare's sonnets or Plath's novels to draw the quiet from our deathliest hours. But I am not convinced Morgan is making such an aesthetic or playful claim. Indeed, her mouthy husband and her legal team suggest otherwise.
Watch the footage in this link, and I am sure you will agree that there is more than harmless fun in the Sally Morgan shows. http://boingboing.net/2014/10/10/video-exclusive-sceptic-bulli.html
Threats from hubby and the legal team to a member of a local skeptic society who dared to hand out leaflets explaining the methods used by psychics, suggests that the stakes are much higher indeed.
Morgan isn't claiming to investigate the afterlife metaphorically in her shows. Like many Mystics before her, she is claiming a real power of communication with the loved ones of the still-grieving bereft. And when challenged, she and her other half are willing to resort to intimidation and violence to uphold that authority.
Good luck to the Mancunian skeptics who plan to spread the movement to other lesser known psychic events. If skepticism is party-pooping, here's me hoping this particular party is well and truly pooped.
May Sally Morgan and her crew crawl back under the stone of ignorance and belligerence they came from.