16.04.2015

Psychics guild

SkepticBlog is a collaboration among some of the most recognized names in promoting science, critical thinking, and skepticism. A review of The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science, by Will Storr (2014, Overlook Press, New York). Most of us long-term skeptics have had our share of run-ins with people who cling stubbornly to a particular dogma.
As a magician, Harry Houdini was a trickster pretty much by definitiona€”and, of course, a good one.
At the time I appreciated the fact that I surprised my clients, but while aware of the fact that I was deceiving them I did not see or understand the seriousness of trifling with such sacred sentimentality and the baneful result which inevitably followed. Last week Brian Dunning blogged about his experience being filmed testing psychics for a Showtime series called a€?Versus,a€? that he strongly suspected was a set up to punk the skeptics. Today I was invited to host an episode of a new series for a major cable network in which I was to interview and administer a test to three professional psychics. Most skeptics know that self-proclaimed psychics such as Uri Geller, who claim to be able to bend cutlery with just their minds, are actually using magic and trickery to do so. Regular bloggers include: Brian Dunning, Daniel Loxton, Donald Prothero, Mark Edward, Michael Shermer, and Steven Novella.
We get frustrated that no amount of evidence or strong arguments ever changes their point of view. He was quick to turn mere happenstance to his advantage (as when he commanded the rain to stop and begin again at a Fourth of July party)1 and to turn people’s assumptions against them.
I must confess that I found this story quite funny on first reada€”and yet, schadenfreude aside, it also strikes me as a deeply unethical example of skeptical activism.


Alas, and with some relief, this will not happen as Hereafter is possibly the worst film Eastwood has ever directed. I didna€™t check up on the production company because I have never been burned and there were no signals of distrust for me to notice.
Suddenly the studio doors slammed open, and in ran Shirley, pushing a cart holding a bodybag!
This was the first episode they’d shot, and the producers and director were really nice and cool and it had all the makings of a fun and productive day.
Of course, if they could really bend metal with just their minds you have to wonder why at some point they always have to touch the spoon. The pattern is true whether you’re dealing with religious beliefs (from creationism to various Eastern religious ideas), or paranormal beliefs (UFO nuts, psychics, ghosts, cryptozoology) or just plain pseudoscience and bad scholarship (homeopathy, past-life regression, Holocaust deniers, climate-change deniers, and many others). I was a mystifier and as such my ambition was being gratified and my love for a mild sensation satisfied. For his final bit of zaniness, he channeled the spirit of actor Lee Majors who told of the afterlife (Lee Majors is not dead). I knew that Shirley was unbalanced and belligerent, so I stood the hell back and expected that security was going to tackle him and get him out of there. They had located three psychics who were all game, and were fully willing to undergo the tests under controlled conditions. The answer is obvious to skeptics: because the only way to bend a spoon is by physically bending it! Reporter Will Storr decided to go deep into the heart of these various fringe and non-scientific belief systems, interviewing the major figures, taking part in their rituals, and doing his best to give them a fair shake as he embeds himself into their culture.


Sometimes, as in his exposures of fraudulent psychics, his craftiness served the public good. Moreover, the show had even secured a $50,000 prize that any psychics who passed today’s tests would be qualified to try for. While Nancy Marks' name is used in the document, other attorneys, including the one representing Rose Marks, have joined in the request."Nancy Marks' conduct is rooted in her religion and spirituality," Gottlieb wrote.
I arrived fully prepared, with some detailed protocols, and a raft of properly controlled materials.
Michael had not had my previous experience with Shirley, so he stepped up cheerfully and asked to see what was in the bag. They were initially jailed and then placed on house arrest but are now free on bond, court records show. Either way, fortunately Brian and I were both skeptical from the get go so they didna€™t a€?catch usa€? in any Borat-like socially embarrassing moments. When they were released from jail, they asked for permission to attend more conventional religious services at St.



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