Sure, we all would love magic to be true. I've been a big fan of fantasy novels since I was a kid. I used to dream about flying (sometimes still do). I would love to have "powers". And I appreciate being taken away to another world by the entertainment industry as much as anyone. And enjoy "magical" feelings as much as anyone.
And yet, you would take that fantasy away from the world by saying "it doesn't compute"
The fantasiful possibility tied to "Magick" is based entirely on innocence and hope. When the public is constantly told to grow-up and stop believing in imaginary friends (god) and miracles because science doesn't support such things, you remove the possibilities -- the hope and inspiration such imaginative tales give us.
Some years ago when I was working in Reno I had a couple of situations that were on a collision course; one one front I had two sisters doing Readings in town that were 100% predatory, focused on the local Indian and illegal immigrant (Mexicans) population... people known for being superstitious as well as those in a position that would make it highly unlikely for them to report extortion/grand larceny to the authorities.
On the other front I had that handful of "clients" coming into the store who were fortunate enough to have friends or family that saw through the game these two sisters were playing but couldn't figure out how to help them out of the situation they found themselves in; typically, the need to remove a curse or some other pal set around them (supposedly) according to one of these two sisters, who would gladly remove it for $5,000.00 or whatever they thought they could get out of the mark.
Understand, most of these targeted people have deeply ingrained beliefs when it comes to magic, spirits, demons, etc. they have a very unshakable sense of faith and thus, telling them that these "psychics' can't hurt them, that its all "fake", etc. won't only be met with opposition on their part, causing them to dig their heels in deeper, it can cause serious psychological damage... far more damage than their faith in such things. That's where I find the chance to build some bridges...
the first thing I have to do is gain the trust of both, the victim and their support network; the best way of doing this is to not ask for any cash... I do mean ANY cash, including my normal fee for doing Readings. I express honest concern & empathy and then empower them by showing them several inexpensive ways of banishing whatever evil it is the other psychics were suggesting to them... in other words, I was empowering them and giving them the ability to weld magick... the kind of magick that is very real for them.
Frequently, the family or friend that brought such victims to me, knew of my show biz background and understood that my views to all this stuff was a bit more down to earth and analytical and yet, understanding of tradition as well as people's need to believe in the fantastic. This is another reason I was trusted and that's the key here -- trust!
How would a skeptic deal with this kind of issue?
Would you respect the deep level of belief shared by the victim? Would you be able to express empathy and understanding while helping them claim their own power, in a manner that fits their cultural sense of belief?
When we create a world in which magick is not real in the minds of the majority, then that majority loses its ability to communicate effectively and be of service to the balance of the population, such as this example shows. Our "logic" taints our ability to heal... it's the same in the converse; people of faith seem to think that "prayer" (as an example) can heal everything and failing that, conversion to whatever flavor of Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors of Faith happens to be, will give you ultimate salvation/protection... I an tell you from experience, that's not so. BUT, I can also tell you from experience that one can find a median at which faith and "logic" can work hand in hand and too, it's been doing so for a very, very long time.
In regards to the case above, I was able to collect enough information on these Sisters to aid local authorities in busting up their little operation. Interestingly, it was the local Psychic professionals that lit the fuse in this case, by holding a press conference (magician free, I might add) in which they boldly pointed fingers and expressed ardent concern over public safety and of course, how such negative operators hurt the image of the more honest professional. While this was one of the more bold actions I've ever seen taken by working psychics on their own behalf when it comes to actual charlatan issues, it's not the only such effort I've seen over the years -- they have their own way of cleaning house that usually works without dragging in the authorities.
While I've bounced about here, the moral of the tale remains the same... people need to believe in magick & miracles, when we take that away from them we find a greater degree of general frustration, stress, agitation and the sense of 'void' as it were. While some that take the road of the skeptic/atheist do end up reflecting the kind of serenity most of us wish we could obtain, this is not the norm... just look at how bitter Randi is after a life time of stirring this pot.
Magick is very real even by the perspectives shared by the analytical mind; the "bridge" I keep speaking of likewise exists IF we are willing to give ourselves permission to understand and work with what is also out there in the world that people KNOW... it's not a "belief" as most assume the context of that term, but more a matter of KNOWING beyond any doubt, that this is what is and anything stating the contrary is a lie... a ploy by the devil, as they would say. Interestingly, the skeptical actually taint the beliefs or claims of those who stand in opposition to their views, in a similar light... but "faith" does that to people, doesn't it?
By coupling my knowledge of 'scientific" perspective as well as my background within metaphysics and shamanism I am able to HELP rather than hurt or insult people of faith. I'm also able to help them claim their own power and HEAL the circumstances they face rather than making them co-dependent or feeling impotent. Finally, I am able to start spoon feeding these people with the more honest way of seeing such things because they've learned to trust me and know that my only concern is helping them grow and be able to better protect themselves from predators of the sort noted in this tale. I've yet to meet a skeptic or rationalist capable of doing this and 90% of the reason is that they've lost their own ability to believe in magick.