In response to the daily prompt “Life Line

“You’re on a long flight, and a palm reader sitting next to you insists she reads your palm. You hesitate, but agree. What does she tell you?”

Firstly, if I was in the above situation I wouldn’t believe a word of what she said. I don’t believe that anyone can predict the future, especially not from looking at someone’s sweaty hands.

There are all sorts of psychological tricks that fortune tellers and mediums employ to convince you that they really are looking into your future or contacting a dead relative. The human mind is an amazing thing but it is not infallible and there are tons of tricks you can play with it. Just look at this video from Derren Brown for example:

Derren Brown always makes it clear that he is not pretending to do “magic”, he is merely tricking people’s minds. Anyone can learn to do this sort of thing if you are persistent enough.

I’ve had dealings with fortune tellers myself before. The most memorable one was in a Chinese restaurant of all places.  I was expecting wisdom from the fortune cookies, but not from the waiter!

Halfway through our meal the waiter came up to our table and asked my mum “What is wrong with your son?” referring to me (I am a wheelchair user). My Mum, who was obviously not expecting such a question, replied “Well he can’t walk so he has to use a wheelchair.” So the waiter then turned to me and confidently declared: “In two years you will walk”.  This was from a man whose only medical training (as far as I could tell) was how to carve a crispy duck.  Well, that was eight years ago, and I am still waiting for this miracle to happen!

According to him my disability was “all in the mind”. If only it was that simple. I came to terms with the fact that I will never walk again years ago, it’s just a medical impossibility. The damage to my brain is done and no amount of positive thinking is going to change that. That’s not being pessimistic, it’s being realistic. If I was a less sceptical person I may have believed the guy when he told me I would walk again, and that could be a dangerous thing to do.

Fortune Tellers can give people false hope. For most people there is no harm done by having someone predict your future. But when it involves your health it could become dangerous if you believe in superstition more than modern medicine. It’s like this couple who let their desperately ill baby die because they believed that Prayer could cure pneumonia. I know this is an extreme example but it just goes to show the dangers of putting too much blind faith in something without questioning it.

I personally believe the future is not predetermined. I don’t believe in fate. I believe it is the choices we make, not the chances we take, that determine our destiny. The future is what we make of it.

“I have noticed that even people who claim that the future is predestined, and we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.” – Stephen Hawking

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