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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

fire walking This stunt consists of walking barefoot over a bed of glowing coals (usually charcoal) and emerging unharmed. The secret is not in preparation of the mind, the soul or the sole, as often claimed, but in the fact that wood ash has very low “specific heat” and does not hold as much heat energy as other substances. A frying pan, placed in the path of the fire walker, would burn the foot badly if stepped into.
      Though the stunt has now been demonstrated——by physicist Dr. Bernard Leikind of California——to be a perfectly ordinary but nonintuited phenomena, one popular and very successful new ageguru” in the United States continues to use it as a purported example of supernatural power or “mind control” to convince customers that they can have impossible things happen to them.
      In Fiji, Hawaii, and Japan, a variation of the stunt is performed on lava stone, which also has very poor conductivity and low specific heat, and is similar to the “heat shield” ceramic used on the outer skin of the space shuttle.



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