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Psychic or Psycho?

Entry 673, on 2008-01-14 at 20:54:07 (Rating 3, Skepticism)

In a recent article in our local newspaper the writer asks why the psychic "industry" is unregulated where many related areas are regulated. He goes on to question whether there is any truth in psychic ability at all. The subject has been discussed here recently as a result of a TV program purporting to show how psychics have helped solved crimes for police and the subsequent debate with skeptics on how accurate the program really is.

The person who wrote the newspaper article is well known in the area as a skeptic and has offered a challenge to psychics for many years. He has hidden a promissory note near his business and offered a reward for a psychic who can locate it. Initially the note was within 5 kilometers of his business, then when no one could find it that was reduced to 200 meters. The sum was also increased from $50,000 to $100,000 to make it more attractive.

Many believers in the paranormal claim that finding money is beneath the dignity of psychics, but if they don't like to use their ability for financial gain why do so many of them charge substantial sums for their services? Also, if using their "gift" for their own benefit isn't acceptable why not donate the money to a charity? Its really a fairly weak excuse and a much better explanation would be that they have no special ability.

Many psychics probably know they can't do it because few have even attempted the challenge. And those who did have failed spectacularly. Presumably the ones who attempted to locate the money actually thought they could really do it, or did they just think they might get lucky? After all, its in an easily identified location within 200 meters of a known place. How hard could that be compared with locating evidence to solve a murder?

This is just one paranormal challenge available. There are many others and the most famous is probably the JREF one million dollar challenge. This has been available for many years and involves a test of any paranormal ability which the skeptics and the believer both agree to. Its all well documented and legally binding yet no one has ever claimed the prize. Interestingly some prominent psychics haven't even tried. Maybe they had a premonition they would fail!

Unfortunately, the fact is that many people do believe psychics are for real. They are encouraged in this belief through the nonsensical TV programs which claim to show real cases being solved. But when the true facts behind these cases are investigated there tends to be more prosaic explanations of the events.

Often psychics are exposed as frauds but this still doesn't convince the believers because they then say something like "that person was fake but there are others which are for real". That could be true so why not prove it?

If there are fake psychics around they must detract from the reputation the real psychics might gain, so why would the real psychics not welcome some sort of regulation of their industry? To be a licensed psychic you might need to solve some sort of psychic problem to prove your abilities. But I don't think that would be acceptable because, based on past experience, we would then have no psychics at all!

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