TF Archives

Underside - Supernaturalist vs The Sceptic

Author: Darryn King/Randy Gnirk
Monday, October 27, 2008


At six-thirty every morning I am woken up by our poltergeist vacuuming the house. He is in fact fastidiously tidy – sometimes I wish he were moving furniture around, throwing ornaments around the room or making the walls bleed, but there you are. As I leave for work he’s just started mowing the crop circles out of the front yard.

The commute is arduous as usual. There’s been a reality shift on Sargasso Street, so the traffic is bad, and the bus driver is only accepting change with numerological significance, which really slows things down. I telepath ahead to tell work I will be a few minutes late but my neural oscillations go straight through to voicemail. Useless. At least, I tell myself, I’ll miss the morning séance.

They are in fact packing up the ouija board as I arrive, but I can tell it’s going to be a tricky day at work as soon as I see my supervisor’s aura, which is lemon yellow, and needless to say clashes with her outfit. Several files materialise at my workstation and I get to work.

At 11.00am, me and Brad – the reincarnated spirit of Emperor Valentinian III – head out with our dowsing sticks to find some good coffee. He looks slightly worn out but only because he’s just started going out with a succubus. The sex, apparently, is amazing.

At lunch I grab a levitating sandwich from the café opposite (the precognitive chef has it ready for me when I arrive) and head out to meet Clarissa. On the way I happen to run into my exorcist, who reminds me I’m due for a check-up.

It turns out Clarissa has been having a difficult day at the phrenologist’s, what with her office vanishing overnight, and that patch on the back of her neck still itchy from the alien microchip. Nonetheless we have a good chat about our holiday plans to see the Vile Vortices and we lock in a date to see our astral travel agent.

Having forgotten to bring a paperback, I read my palms on the commute home, before suddenly having a strange out-of-body experience. My spirit leaves my body, gets off the bus, flags down a taxi and arrives home about half an hour before I do. Infuriating.

After dinner, I walk the ghost of my dog around the block, only having to stop once to scoop up his ectoplasm.

Darryn King


I once met a girl who believed completely in extrasensory perception. She explained, quite matter-of-factly, that her mother was occasionally ‘woken up’ by a psychic family friend who lived in another city.

Now, it’s not that I think people who believe in this sort of thing are stupid. Actually, wait – that’s exactly what I think.

I should say that I wasn’t the kid in Year 2 who went around convincing my sobbing peers that Santa Claus wasn’t real – I do think the power of imagination is a wonderful thing. But I am genuinely troubled by this tendency of people to get carried away by pseudoscience and paranormal buffoonery.

I’m not a total party-pooper, you understand. After all, I guess there’s no real harm in believing the prophecies of Nostradamus or that there are unseen forces at work in the Bermuda Triangle, or indeed in believing the recent reports that the search for Bigfoot is over. You’ll just look a bit daft, that’s all.

What I do have a problem with is the people mining the endless wealth of other people’s stupidity. I suppose it was inevitable that entrepreneurial types would find ways to use the paranormal realm to snare, and con money out of, the gullible public. We have celebrity psychics delivering messages from the deceased, faith healers praying with audiences over the television airwaves, and ‘geopathic stress’ consultants – and these people are raking in the big bucks. Certainly more than I get from being a freelance writer, which I guess is part of the problem I have with it.

Things all get a little more serious when people’s lives and wellbeing are put in danger. At the risk of sounding like a cultural imperialist, some pretty dodgy things go on when religion is in the equation – remember the Maori woman killed in an ‘exorcism’ last year- Then there’s the diverse, and increasingly lucrative, industry of alternative medicines and therapies. Consider for a moment, have you ever seen an aromatherapist helping out at a car accident-

Certainly the naivety of the public is nothing new. Even the writer behind Sherlock Holmes, the most rigorously rational and brilliant sleuth the world has ever seen, had a bit of a fascination with fairies at the back of the garden in his time. But what if things are getting worse- In these so-called enlightened times, it’s frightening that people are getting sucked in by shameless acts of jiggery-pokery. You want to feel better- You want to have some wonder in your life- Go ride a bike, read a book, meet up with your friends. If you ask me, the natural world beats the unseen one, hands down.

Randy Gnirk