by Marcus Maurice
People can be persuaded to believe almost anything.
In Stamford, England, two illusionists set out to cause a bit of mischief in The Happenings, which is showing this month on National Geographic Channel. Barry and Stuart decide to test the gullibility of local people and start rumors about ghosts, aliens, vampires, and even secret psychic army takeovers. They look to create a buzz in real life and online to see how many people fall for their tricks.
In one of the shows, Barry and Stuart go to a park and find an unsuspecting couple having a picnic in the middle of the day. They are told the tale of the Savannah vampire that has been roaming around the town and that vampires have a long association with death and decay. They have never heard the story, but are talked into giving the host a sandwich in a Tupperware container to see if a man in black nearby is really the vampire in question. They walk up behind the man in black, hold the container from about three meters away, and when they open the sandwich container, it is filled with maggots and worms. Naturally, this freaks out the picnicking couple, and they walk away stunned and bewildered. The man in black then turns around, holds up his coat and disappears into thin air.
While The Happenings straddles the line of comedy and horror, it shows how easy it is to get people to believe the unbelievable by using the power of misdirection and suggestion. This month, check out The Happenings, and see if you would be as easily fooled as the people on the show.