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IHEU member organization Atheist Centre has held a two-day camp in Vijayawada, India for High School and college students and other young people on May 17-18, 2008. A highlight of the camp was a practical demonstration of conjuring tricks, to show how conmen deceive their audiences.

The following article appeared in the Indian national daily newspaper The Hindu.


Seeing through the game plan
P. Sujatha Varma

Children attempt to grasp the unexplained theory behind magical feats

Over 20 children take part in the two-day camp: Idea is to promote scientific outlook

VIJAYAWADA: Overwhelmed with mixed emotions of curiosity and excitement, the young enthusiasts chose to walk the alien terrain. Laden with a zillion misgivings, their minds were constantly at work trying to look beyond what is perceived to be the accepted doctrine.

The invitation extended to schoolchildren by the Atheist Centre near Benz Circle to participate in a two-day training camp on magic was enticing enough for the 20-odd kids to brave the angry sun and reach the venue well before the scheduled time on Sunday. Frozen in their chairs, they sat without batting an eyelid in a clear attempt to grasp the ‘unexplained’ theory behind the feat, even as magician Gowtham placed camphor on his palm, lighted it and before anyone could realise what was happening, he quickly put it in his mouth. Eyes widened and mouths opened as the kids struggled to make sense of what they had seen.

A smiling Gowtham, meanwhile, was ready for his next item and pulled out a thin iron bar with sharp edges. Sensing an element of danger in the next feat, many children raised their hands to cover their eyes that seemed ill-equipped to handle such stark boldness. “Don’t worry. The bar will not pass through my tongue but it will look like so,” he said, pointing to the twisted part of it that kept the tongue safe. The terrain had begun to look somewhat familiar as they steered clear the perceived obstacles that had been preventing them to see the science behind such ‘magic’.

Objective

“The idea is to dispel superstitions, especially among the rural masses that are the targets of conmen and other frauds. We want to promote scientific outlook among children whose minds are very fertile at this stage. Enabling them to see the science behind the so-called ‘miracles’ performed in the name of religion will help a great deal in nipping the evil of superstition in the bud,” said G. Vijayam of the Atheist Centre.

Returning home with wide grins, the participants knew they were ‘well equipped’ to see through the game plan of tricksters.

Their grins widened at the happy thought that they would not need a magic wand to sweep their school friends off their feet.

© Copyright 2000 – 2008 The Hindu

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