A smoking skull

HOUDINI Magazine

Erik Houdini

Manifestation - A Mirage Fueled by Capitalist Realism

The concept of manifestation seems, to me, to be pure hogwash. It parallels other seemingly far-fetched notions like ESP or telekinesis, having no substantial evidence to back it up, even in declassified CIA documents. Manifestation is emblematic of capitalist realism, which incorrectly frames the individual, rather than the collective, as the root of societal problems. The discourse implies that if you're not thriving, it's not due to our dismal social mobility scores or the exploitative nature of the system we're entangled in. Instead, the blame falls squarely on you for not "manifesting" hard enough. It's a devious construct since, like many so-called "spiritual" practices exploited by capitalism, it capitalizes on the desperation of the underprivileged without revealing the true motives behind the "practice."

Personally, I have dabbled with the concept of manifestation, even conducting the popular "Neville's Ladder Experiment", the details of which can be found in my link list. The results, I observed, were skewed heavily by confirmation bias, an all-too-common cognitive quirk. Whenever I thought I had successfully "manifested" something, it always proved to be just a confirmation bias. Instances of manifestation falling flat were conveniently forgotten. It seems coincidences are the magic ingredient for manifestation. Thankfully, I approached these practices with the pragmatism of a skeptic, remaining open to the possibility while cognizant of the likely reality. I have deep empathy for those who lack this critical viewpoint and truly believe they can manifest wealth or greatness. In a system in which a human being's bank account determines the true value of that human being, the desire to be valued, to be successful is a strong one. It's this system of dehumanization that furthers the grip of phony spiritaul practices such as manifestation.

I find it utterly objectionable that there are opportunists and self-styled gurus on platforms like YouTube, selling everything from manifestation, to crypto pump and dump schemes to masculinity classes to "feel more confident as a man." Whether they peddle the spiritual or not, they're all remarkably similar to the snake oil salesmen and fraudulent mediums of yesteryear. As someone who calls himself "Erik Houdini," I find it crucial to expose these fraudsters. They exploit individuals during their darkest hours, taking advantage of their desperation, lack of resources, and the country's inadequate social services to line their pockets. Such unscrupulous individuals, whether they're cryptobros, human traffickers like Andrew Tate, or spiritual charlatans, are morally bankrupt and down right evil.

Some argue that there's merit in such belief systems, implying that if you live your life trying to manifest, say, success, you're more likely to achieve it. To me, this reasoning is weak at best. Sure, séances could potentially aid in dealing with loss and grief, but does this warrant granting fraudulent mediums free rein to exploit vulnerable individuals? I firmly disagree, as did my namesake, a century ago. Witnessing family members being exploited by psychics and other disingenuous actors, I can attest that taking advantage of someone in such an emotional state is reprehensible.

Despite my critiques, I've always been intrigued by these spiritual practices that veer from mainstream religions. I maintain a curiosity towards the metaphysical. While loosely identifying as an atheist, I don't subscribe to materialism, nor do I find solace among many fellow atheists, who often disregard the core belief systems of others, emanating a sense of superiority. I believe it's possible to respect beliefs while critiquing them. For instance, I maintain a list of Bible verses I appreciate, even while holding the view that modern Christianity is built from hate, bigotry, and racism. But that's a conversation for another time.