Gullible Press Falls for Blindfold Trick Again
The Rotorua Daily Post (from New Zealand) reports that Ma Nithya Maheshwaranand, a 12 year old girl from Dallas, is able to read while blindfolded using her “third eye.” They write:
“At least two people, including a Rotorua Daily Post photographer, tested the blindfold and said they could not see through it in any direction.”
The reporter, Stephanie Arthur-Worsop, who is the education and court reporter for the newspaper, included only token skepticism, from Keith Garratt of the New Zealand Sceptics:
“I don’t know what people saw or whether it seems to be miraculous or not but there have been many illusionists and magicians who appear to do things that are miraculous but don’t claim that it’s supernatural.”
If the reporter had done some actual journalism rather than pandering to spiritualists she would have found that this is an old magician’s trick. It is actually not difficult to create the impression that you are using effective blinders while still allowing yourself to peek.
Whenever “third eye” or blindsight claims are tested under properly controlled conditions, which means that someone who knows what they are doing effectively blinds the subject in a way so that they cannot peek, their powers utterly vanish.
Many of these cases have been tested for the JREF Million Dollar Psychic Challenge. James Randi reports:
“So I simply take a little bit of tape and put it into their eye orbits over their eyelids so they cannot open their eyes, and they lose their psychic powers immediately. I tested them live on Japanese television, and another group like that in Korea.”
We didn’t hear any of this in the news story.
As long as there are gullible reporters, or just those who care more about juicy headlines than accurate reporting, the “peeky blinders” story will be repeated.
Of course, as skeptics, we’ll be happy to test each one. Ma Nithya can apply for the million dollar challenge, show up all of us skeptics, prove her abilities are real, and walk away with a cool million as a bonus. All she has to do is what she claims she already does, except with a tiny bit of tape to prevent cheating.