Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ding-Dong, the Witch is Dead.

Ah, I'd almost forgotten to post about the long-awaited death of that sickening old troll, Sathya Sai Baba.  He finally died on the 24th, and I say good riddance.  Well, actually, nothing is likely to happen.  The practitioner of sixth-rate magic tricks has suckered so many millions in India that it's just a matter until the successor to his 11-billion-dollar franchise of fraudulent fleecing and fakery takes the throne as the next holy man and just continues to sucker generations again with cheap trickery a preschooler could perform with greater skill.

It deeply saddens me that in this day and age that we still have people who believe that a man can transform water into diesel fuel, materialize things out of thin air, walk through walls, etc... yet under no circumstance will the same man put these claims to any sort of test.  Not even to the cursory level that say, an Uri Geller was willing to do.  It always gets dodged with a straw man claim about knowledge being intrinsically false or the inadequacy of science to meet up with a reasonable standard of holistic valuation...  what?!??  The best one I've heard, since every single one of his claims and tricks are exposed and/or disproven rather conclusively online or in print, he admonishes his followers not to browse the internet because it is a trash can made only to store lies, and that truth can only be found on the "innernet"...  I need Maalox.

Now, I'd have less problem with this sort of thing if this was just some sort of small-town guru in some backwater hole in the ground with a tiny village of followers.  Don't get me wrong, I'd still have a problem with it, but that's less of a threat to humanity at least.  It's the sort of thing that can be defeated by being squashed under the thumb of knowledge and education, as well it should be.  But Sai Baba's empire has amassed a fortune currently worth just over 11.2 billion US dollars.  Yes, it's worth mentioning that the money that swine has amassed over the decades has gone towards some positive output like schools, hospitals, water infrastructure, etc.  That's a fair point.  What I don't agree with is how this money was attained.  All of it, on the basis of outright lies.  And even if every penny went towards things I would otherwise find agreeable, we can't escape the fact that most of those billions did not come from people who could actually afford to give.  They came from people who were poor and desperate and sought a beacon of hope and got it in the form a disgusting pedophile who pulled out a few simple tricks that are so old and so low-grade that even the most tight-lipped of professional magicians don't mind sharing them with the average Joe.  We have to remember that donations to religious leaders, especially in a poor or developing country, come from the people who seek out and feel the draw to religion the strongest...  and that is a population not made up of people who are well-off.  It is made up of people who struggle the most and need the most comfort, even if entirely imaginary.  Of course, that's precisely why self-styled holy men have such "humble" beginnings, most of which are highly embellished to make them sound much less humble than they actually were.  It's precisely why the poor and suffering make such easy targets to prey upon, and they know it.  And by looking as if you're giving the poor some hope after taking all their money, you come off as a great humanitarian without ever having to help anybody.  So of course, if some spiritual leader comes along and has a following of some 20 or 30 people in a tiny village, it's not enough to make any huge waves....  when he forms an empire worth 11 billion dollars...  now you've got a permanent wart in the future of humanity that will be difficult to wear down without some sort of catastrophic self-destruction on the part of its successors.

Well, if I ever got even the slightest impression that prayer was actually functional in reality in any sense...  that's something I'd pray for.