Feel The Burn With Tony Robbins
It should come as no surprise to people by now that the “art” of firewalking is a dangerous pursuit with no positive outcomes. But don’t tell that to self-help guru Tony Robbins and his inflammatory long-time practice of telling people that they can do just about anything, simply with the power of their mind and positive thinking. According to Robbins and his ilk, the fire walk is a technique for turning fear into power.
As reported by the local CBS news affiliate in Dallas, Texas:
Dozens of people were burned Thursday night after walking over hot coals at a Tony Robbins motivational seminar in Dallas, and at least five of those hurt had to be hospitalized, officials said.
Do these injuries have any impact on what Tony Robbins thinks of his regular practice of firewalking events?
Not one bit. Here is his company’s statement on yesterday’s event from Dallas:
In Dallas tonight, someone not familiar with the fire walk observed the event and called 911 erroneously reporting hundreds of people requiring medical attention for severe burns. While we are grateful to the quick and robust response from Dallas emergency services, only 5 of 7,000 participants requested any examination beyond what was readily available on site. We are pleased to have completed another successful fire walk for 7,000 guests and look forward to the remainder of an outstanding weekend with them.
Firewalking has been practiced for thousands of years by people from all parts of the world. The earliest known reference to it is an Indian story, from about 2000 B.C. Since then it has been observed as an organized event in many different cultures and religions. Although it was, and still is by some, thought to be a paranormal phenomena, it has actually been fairly well understood, and has been explained using the principles of physics for at least the last half century.
Our friends at the Australian Skeptic Society put it quite succinctly:
Think of baking bread. It is possible to open the oven and place your hand inside for a considerable time, despite the fact that the oven is perhaps 200 degrees Celsius. You can even briefly touch the bread, but you would quickly learn that it was a mistake if you were to touch the metal or ceramic container that the bread was in.
The difference comes from the ability of various substances to conduct, or transfer heat. Air is a very poor conductor of heat. Bread is better, but not as good as metal which conducts heat with great efficiency.
Wood does not conduct heat particularly well. The average human foot will happily be in contact with a glowing wood coal for about a second before sufficient heat is transferred to burn the flesh. The average step takes about half a second so for most people, so it is possible to take two steps with each foot before a dangerous amount of heat has built up.
There are many instances of people being injured in firewalking attempts. Even the folks at a celebrity news outlet like TMZ caught on that this practice is the bunk.
When it comes to Tony Robbins and the entire mutli-billion dollar self-help movement, if you choose to take his advice or the advice of scammers just like him, you will most certainly get burned in more ways than one.