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"I did not say much more than I am experienced at cold reading. You are the one who thinks I said words like, 'dazzling.'"

At this point, I'm not really interested in talking to you anymore, so I'll make this my last comment to you. Also, since I think you're a troll, I'm not going to include any comments you may submit to other threads, though you can continue to comment on this one, since it specifically concerns skeptics (and Skeptics). I think you are dishonest and not very bright and are simply wasting everyone's time with hackneyed arguments that go nowhere. Sorry to be rude, but that's how I see it.

You certainly *did* suggest that you were very good at cold reading. You wrote, "I am an experienced cold reader who occasionally demonstrates how people are fooled by so-called psychics. And it is amazing how many people who truly believe they can’t be fooled are, in fact, so easily fooled. I can recall instances of demonstrating to people things I 'couldn’t possibly have known,' and then taking them back through the process and explaining exactly where the information came from ..."

If you told them things they thought you couldn't possibly have known, I'd call that a pretty dazzling performance. But I don't believe you have any cold reading skills or experience at all. I think you are a liar.

"And where did I say that I can perform 'impressive mentalist feats'? I’m not a mentalist and I don’t pretend to do anything outside of my capabilities."

A mentalist is somebody who fakes psychic abilities by using various tricks, prominently including cold reading. If you claim to be able to perform cold reading tricks that are good enough to fool others, then you are claiming abilities as a mentalist. The fact that you don't know this very basic fact indicates that your knowledge of this subject is so limited that it is simply a waste of time to continue to talk to you.

My advice: follow my lead and read 200 or more books on the subject of psychic phenomena, from all perspectives, both pro and con, and get a comprehensive knowledge of the field. Then in five or 10 years, get back to us, if this blog is still in operation (which I sincerely hope it is not).

Feel free to continue arguing with other people. I am tired of you.

Sorry you're so upset. You said you had a blog. So I was curious and found it and read it. I didn't call you any names. I did say you are a 20 something year living in your parent's basement. It was an impetuous comment and I apologized for making it. It was bad form. Other than that, your sudden need to become angry and personal seems misplaced or unwarranted to me.

I told you that a medium that had no opportunity to utilize hot reading techniques and who used no cold reading that I could detect, was able to tell me highly unique and personal details that she could not have known. You then replied that I was being duped and am too ignorant and unobservant to understand how she was duping me and that you knew this because you are a clever cold reader that often amazes people with cold reading to the point where, even after you reveal the tricks, silly people refuse to accept that you're not a real psychic.

I was skeptical of your claim and asked you to prove it at the same level the medium did. You then said you couldn't do what you said you could and then you got all kinds of upset and insulted this blog and the people that share here.

So are you willing to concede that If I'm not lying, the medium I saw is for real. Is that what's really bothering you? That not all believers are like the straw men of your blog?

Another reason I commented about your blog is because it is clear to me that you really do not understand the evidence for certain paranormal phenomena and aren't interested in it. IMO, You just like to pump up your ego by imaging yourself to be a superb cold reader while you beat up straw man believers. We are interested in understanding the mindset of the militant skeptic and you seem to be a case study.

Am I missing anything important?

Regarding our distinction between skeptics and Skeptics: the Other Side makes this distinction too, though in terms favorable to Skepticism:

"The soft skeptic suspends judgment .... The hardened skeptic is a disbeliever in all or most occult claims.
"The hardened skeptic doesn't need much more [than his basic disbelief] in the way of evidence or argument to be convinced that any given occult claim is probably based on error or fraud."
—Robert Todd Carroll, The Skeptic's Dictionary, pages 1 &2 (Introduction) (2003 edition)

Interesting find, Roger. It's funny that Skeptics can become exercised over a simple capitalization, when they routinely lambaste the pro-paranormal camp as gullible, credulous, uninformed, anti-science, superstitious woo-woos who are ushering in the Dark Ages.

And now it turns out that some Skeptics recognize the same basic distinction themselves.

\\"Then in five or 10 years, get back to us, if this blog is still in operation (which I sincerely hope it is not)." - Michael Prescott//

LOL! And we sincerely hope it is! Where else am I going to acquire my life after death and paranormal knowledge? I have gotten so many good links from this blog about supernatural and paranormal sites I can go to learn about life after death stuff? Also I have made quite a few friends on this blog, some have become facebook friends, etc. So, we hope you are in the blog business for many years to come, or at least till we all cross over and meet on the other side! Think of the fun we'll have in heaven discussing the stuff we believed in after we find out what was true and what is not? Also we'll find out who exactly William Shakespeare was and who wrote his plays? {grin}


Re the cold reading, I asked you to give a case of how you did it with your friend. That doesn't require you to do anything new with one of us. If you can't supply such a story, I call BS. You are using an underhanded technique: saying that *you* can do something (you can't really do) in order to debunk it. "I can do this, so that totally explains everything psychics do!" Lame.

||Sylvia Browne was an obvious fraud, but would you deny that countless people fell for it, and even now there is a core of her supporters who still defend her? That was pretty much my point: when people believe, they will not be deterred or convinced otherwise.||

People get scammed all the time--most scams have nothing to do with the paranormal. If I say the "Success in Selling--Coffee Is For Closers!" seminar is crap, that doesn't mean that all personal development seminars are crap. People carried around Chairman Mao's Little Red Book as though it was the Bible, and he was an atheist. Etc., etc.

As for Sylvia Browne, she was an embarrassment. I'll put it bluntly: no psychic should ever behave like that, even *if* he or she has ability. That doesn't mean one can't be in the media at all, but a little humility, discretion, and proportionality are called for.

||You’ve gone full school playground on me now; I can’t compete with that.||

First, we're two different people who said different things. But you're being like a child who gets barely bumped into by another child but goes running to his Mommy, bawling and looking for attention. Skeptical trolls are all alike. You don't behave well, you don't bring the goods (knowledge of the topic at hand), and you're shady.

||Do you think that “Michael Prescott’s Blog,” that I used think was a serious discussion area for matters paranormal (which is why I have a link to it on my blog), should now be renamed “Michael Prescott’s Kindergarten”?||

Only if mental children such as yourself are given free rein.

||It would be a pity if those sceptics who read this blog would agree with that idea, but you make this place look as if it’s nothing more than a self-congratulatory back-slapping club.||

Mild turnabout is fair play, isn't it? I can't tell you the number of times I've tried to debate Skeptics online, only to have to deal with a 20-to-1 onslaught of cackling, giddy abuse. I think you've been given a decent amount of respect on here, but you *are* acting like a lame, anonymous troll. They appear here from time to time. *Never* a sincere Skeptic posting under his own name, ready to engage in a congenial debate. Always someone smarmy and anonymous.

||I wouldn’t tolerate that sort of self-indulgence on my own blog, but it’s up to Michael.||

You tolerate your own writing, don't you?

||The real reason why sceptics don’t accept the existence of psi is that it is championed by people like you.||

Then Skeptics are idiots, since one should believe things based on evidence and not on the manner of their proponents.

||I’ll just leave you to your infantile name-calling.||

I and others have called you a troll based on your behavior. I don't think I have actually called you any other names, have I?

"*Never* a sincere Skeptic posting under his own name, ready to engage in a congenial debate."

Some years ago, probably before you started commenting, Keith Augustine would sometimes participate in discussions here. He's knowledgeable (especially about NDEs) and was generally friendly.

And there's Bill, who's friendly enough.

Mostly, however, the Skeptical types contribute very little. I occasionally exercise my comment-moderation powers to preemptively delete their messages, usually those citing RationalWiki as a source.

"I and others have called you a troll based on your behavior. I don't think I have actually called you any other names, have I?"

I called him a liar, but that was after he posted.

Ordinarily I don't accuse people of lying, but Swiftsure's cold-reading claims strike me as ridiculously implausible. Skeptics insist they will not accept any claims without evidence, yet they expect us to accept their own claims without evidence.

I also found it silly that he regarded Sylvia Browne as a "straw man" example of cold reading, when Browne was one of the most successful cold readers in America. She may not have been a world-class talent, but she was at least as good as the average mentalist.

It just occurred to me that an individual could in effect register his premonitions by emailing them to himself. A copy of his email would be held by his email provider so it could be called upon / accessed to verify the authenticity of the email.

Has anyone done this already, I wonder.

This was done for the newspaper tests conducted by Charles Drayton Thomas, involving the medium Gladys Osborne Leonard. Leonard's very specific predictions of words and phrases that would appear in precise parts of tomorrow's edition were posted the night before, at a time when the paper had not yet been laid out, making it impossible to know (by any normal means) where any given words would be. The posted letters were mailed to the Society for Psychical Research.

This was done for the newspaper tests conducted by Charles Drayton Thomas, involving the medium Gladys Osborne Leonard.
Tell me more! If you suspect there's enough known by others, maybe start a thread on the topic, to draw contributions from readers.

I like the idea of low-cost verification measures, as the best way of making our case for psi.

"Tell me more!"

Okay ...

The only available logical Skeptical response to the Drayton Thomas newspaper tests seems to be that they were a deliberate fraud by the SPR, in falsely claiming correspondences between the Leonard mediumship sessions (sent to the SPR by dated mail) and the Times newspaper of the next day after the session. Of course, Skeptics couldn't even use living agent psi as an alternative non-survival explanation. Is there any other "wiggle room" explanation? I wonder how Skeptics have dealt with these experiments, or perhaps they have just studiously ignored and not mentioned them.

When I have dreams that I remember I don't know that they are going to be precognitive dreams. I dream and wake up and remember it and think "what the hell was that?" They might be particularly vivid dream, like the one where I dreamed the space shuttle broke up and fell in our yard, and I sort of remember them but if a week later the space shuttle breaks up and falls all over East Texas and Louisiana and people are told not to touch any of the debris then I think to myself "well I'll be damned! I had that dream a week ago."

Art said:

"When I have dreams that I remember I don't know that they are going to be precognitive dreams."

Same here, Art. Except that I *have* learned to recognize certain clues. And strangely enough, the most reliable one is this: the dreams that come true are the ones that seem least likely to.

Which makes sense. Because if a dream is about routine stuff, then even if it did come true, it would be impossible to tell, right? Like if I dreamt last night about taking a walk in my neighborhood—well I do that every day. So how can I know if the dream is about the past or the future?

But years ago, when I had a dream in which I saw a huge tree limb lying on the ground in my yard—well, in 30 years, no such accident had ever happened. So I recorded the dream, and five days later, my eugenia did, in fact, drop a limb. And all but one of the specifics in the dream were accurate.

So for my experiment, I've learned to focus on the oddest dreams only. And one like your space shuttle dream would surely qualify.

By the way—my friend Cal also had a dream predicting that disaster, though in his case, just hours before it occurred. When he then watched it actually happen on TV, he was stunned!

I dreamed about a great big old mud turtle last night. It was sort of oval shaped, not round, and dark black. I was picking it up by the back of the shell and moving it somewhere? I have picked up and moved numerous box turtles and snapping turtles off the road so they don't get smashed but I don't remember ever picking up and moving a mud turtle, especially one this big? Very strange dream.

Well I went and looked up mud turtles online and it says they are generally small, not over 4" or 5" inches? In my dream it was a great big mud turtle? So I don't know what kind of turtle I saw in my dream? In my dream it was big but size can be a funny thing in dreams because it's sort of like photographs you can manipulate how big something looks by where you place it in front of the camera. The closer to the camera the bigger it looks?

I don't normally dream about turtles. I have dreamed about snakes quite a few times but this is the first turtle dream I remember? We'll see what comes of it...{grin}

Art said:

"this is the first turtle dream . . . We'll see what comes of it..."

If your dream about getting those huge bass is any indication, we might have to wait a few years. :)

Bruce I swear the Striped Bass story is true. I dreamed about two huge bass and it took a couple of years before my neighbor called me up and gave me a couple of huge striped bass. What was funny was at that time I was having a lot of precognitive dreams. They all seemed to end after we moved from East Tennessee to Middle Tennessee and I started going to the doctor and he put me on Lisinopril for high blood pressure and Simvastatin for high cholesterol? I was having quite a few "mystical" experiences and they pretty much ended after I started going to the doctor? Maybe I was getting closer to the other side? One foot on this side and one on the other side? I'm just conjecturing? It was nice though being connected. I had some other things that happened to me that answered a lot of questions for me and they make sense to me and I have a lot of confidence they are probably true.

Art said:

"I started going to the doctor and he put me on Lisinopril for high blood pressure and Simvastatin for high cholesterol? I was having quite a few "mystical" experiences and they pretty much ended after I started going to the doctor? Maybe I was getting closer to the other side?"

Are you saying you think the drugs stopped your mystical experiences by pulling you back from the brink of death? My guess is that if the drugs were responsible, it was for a different reason entirely. I'm less convinced of the positive effects of such medicines than you. I've become a strict, low-fat vegetarian (the Ornish diet) and daily walker, rather than take them!

I would rather not have my dreams come true because I tend to dream about ugly things. I hope not all dreams come true.

Luciano said:

"I would rather not have my dreams come true because I tend to dream about ugly things. I hope not all dreams come true."

You're not alone. In my book I talk about a young student of mine who had a dream that clearly helped him to avoid injury the next day. A remarkable case, with stunning detail. But his father was unimpressed, and doesn't believe the phenomenon is real. When I asked why, he said it's "creepy" to think that some of his worst dreams could come true.

Sometimes I feel this way myself, though not often. I recently had a dream in which a dear friend had contracted a specific form of cancer. I woke up feeling deeply concerned. (Happily, months later, she's still fine.)

And shortly before my heart attack last year (a minor one, thankfully) I had a horrendous dream of seeing, out my window, the bright flash of a nuclear explosion. It made me suspect that something awful would soon happen to me.

But for the most part, my dreams are gifts, and delightful ones. Almost always, they predict events that are pleasurable, meaningful, or simply intriguing, with each one providing further evidence that this universe is magical indeed.

Well for the most part I dream about things that have not come true yet and tend to be fears I have in real life. It only makes sense that if I put my attention on some topic I'm going to dream about it later.

I think it's time to start a dream journal!

Hey, Michael, I was looking through your old articles, and found the one with South Park's take on John Edward. All I can think is; did they really try to make a real-life point about how a medium was fake on a show in which ghosts, psychic powers, appearances from living religious figures, and bodily resurrection happen roughly every episode, and that same episode involves possession by an actual ghost? Are people really trying to use this as a coherent point?

Michael –

You’re calling me a liar? I’ve been called worse, but you are wrong, and you are reading too much into my words (just like the average psychic’s client). You regard me as a troll? I regard you as someone who is easily fooled by his own beliefs and can’t take, or answer, legitimate criticism. But name-calling is not an acceptable substitute for reasoned argument. You might disagree with that, of course.

All anyone who wants to present themselves as a psychic needs is a willing “accomplice” in the form of someone who believes. Yes, I have impressed people who believe that I have told them things I couldn’t possibly know, but it is the client, or sitter, that does all the work. Those people who are so desperate to contact their lost loved ones will work overtime, so to speak, to help the “psychic” they are consulting for that purpose. “I’m getting the name John,” says the psychic to an audience. “That’s my husband,” says a tearful woman present, “he died from a heart attack last August, but he was a lifelong smoker, and had had lung problems for a few years because of it. He also… [and so on and on].” And then later, the same woman will say, “My god, he [the psychic] couldn’t possibly have known that.” But of course he didn’t – and that is the whole point of what I am getting at. Psychics, whether wittingly or unwittingly, exploit people, and I think it is disgraceful that vulnerable people are led to believe in something that is (or should be) so obviously complete and utter nonsense (except to those like yourself who are convinced, and will not consider anything that will challenge your personal convictions).

You and your minions here have no idea of what cold reading is, or the psychology that underpins it. You are kidding yourself if you think you do, in the same way that psychics fool their dupes, and their clients fool themselves.

The reality of paranormal claims is simply this: it isn’t real at all. Ask a psychic to do anything at all that comes within what is commonly classed as psi, shall we say, and what happens? Nothing. But there is not exactly a shortage of excuses: It doesn’t work like that. It’s a rare phenomenon that can’t be called up at will. The energy is weak. The vibrations aren’t right. There is an unbeliever present. It doesn’t work with the light on. Spontaneous cases are the best evidence (but there’s never an independent recording). And on and on and on. And even when a psychic is caught out in outright fraud, he or she can get away with it by just saying that the messages weren’t coming through, but he or she didn’t want to disappoint their audience. And the gullible clods who accept that uncritically can’t see why people like me look askance at such stupidity. Maybe if I found one of my employees dipping their fingers in the till now and again, I should keep her employed on the basis that on the days she is not stealing from me, she is a model of probity.

OK, here is the classic question, overused and as hackneyed as it could possibly be: Matt Rouge, what will be the winning numbers on the particular lottery that I speculate an occasional pound (sterling) on next Saturday? You and your psychic friends should have no problem with that. Or will you? And will you ignore this post of mine – the last chance Michael has given me to speak? Or are you just all talk? I say with confidence that you will not offer the numbers, you have no idea which lottery I occasionally enter, and you will congratulate yourself for not falling for my “weak” attempt at “cold reading.” You think you are psychic; I think you are an honest person who is a deluded fantasist. But I will not call you a liar, I think you truly believe your own claims.

However, I am right; prove me wrong: those lottery numbers could change my life. Or maybe that win would just add to my already accumulated wealth in a small way. Or not. You tell me. But you won’t, will you? Should I just stick to driving my taxi, or stay in my mom’s basement? In fact, like Michael Prescott, you don’t have a clue. When parapsychologists say they have subjects who have achieved “paranormal results” in tests that are not just billions to one against chance but trillions to one, then a six out of forty nine lottery draw should be a snip (that’s only a little less than fourteen million to one). Go for it.

Just tell me this, though: very recently there was a huge earthquake in Mexico, followed by a big afterquake, so where were the psychic predictions about it? Predictions that could have saved lives. And where are the clairvoyants and remote viewers who would, if they had any humanity (not to mention any psychic abilities), be there pointing out to rescuers the places under the rubble where survivors could be found? This thread contains claims from contributors that they have had precognitive dreams that came true, but no one mentioned the appalling tragedy in central America. Why not?

And what about the Las Vegas shooting? Why did no psychic warn the authorities, who could have been waiting for the perpetrator and prevented the tragedy? If such predictions were recorded and/or posted online before these catastrophes happened, it would not take long for the reality of clairvoyance to be accepted by everyone, including sceptics like me. Want my own prediction (using my sceptical powers that I have vowed to use only for good)? It is never going to happen, and you know it, however many excuses you want to make for every failure of every psychic to demonstrate their alleged powers publicly and unambiguously.

Or maybe I’m just being cynical. Art dreamed about two Striped Bass, and a couple of years later his neighbour presented him with two bass. I remember one time I ignored my wife’s urging to throw spilt salt over my shoulder, and about four or five years later I tripped and sprained my ankle! How can that be explained by any normal means?

But the believers have one thing that empirical science cannot rely on to support it: anecdotes. And insults (that’s two things). And lists of excuses (OK, that’s three things). And faith (alright, the list is going to get longer). And… it goes on and on. And yet, all you have to do is what you all claim. Predict an earthquake, but with some precision, rather than dreaming about such a thing and it happens five years later in an area that is prone to quakes anyway, remembered only after some random earthquake happens somewhere on Earth. Just stop making excuses for all the failures and actually do something practical.

Produce a testable theory of the paranormal and produce something that has a real application. Then you will be taken seriously. Desperate name-calling doesn’t cut it, and banning opposing views just exposes the vacuity of the claims made by the faithful.

One last thing: try this, as I control you, whether you like it or not, and if you have the courage to try it, then you can’t do a damn’ thing about it:

Sit comfortably and raise your right leg. Now rotate your right foot in a clockwise direction. Easy, yes? Now, as you rotate your right foot, draw a number six in the air with the index finger of your right hand. Your foot now starts to rotate anticlockwise, and whether you want to think I have any control over you or not, that is what will happen.

You don’t actually have to do that little test, of course, it’s up to you; it’s just that if you refuse to do it, as all psychics refuse to do a properly controlled test, you will never have to face reality. It’s up to you, but I am right, and if you do it, you have no choice but to admit (if only to yourself) that you did exactly as I wanted you to do – just like so many clients who waste their time and/or money on charlatans and well-meaning but deluded cranks.

Believe in the paranormal if you want to, but if you ever feel the need, try being rational if you would like to find out what reality is all about. The real world is often bitterly disappointing when it contradicts one’s cherished beliefs, but I think it is better to face up to harsh reality, rather than eagerly embracing a chimera just because it aligns with one’s existing prejudices.

"Just stop making excuses for all the failures and actually do something practical."

As practical as what you do, which is purely negative? In addition, projects such as Stargate could already conclude that psi exists but is not robust enough to have military utility, or at least we still do not know how to make psi useful.

As I wrote on July 14 (the comment that Swiftsure is responding to, three months later):

"Skeptics insist they will not accept any claims without evidence, yet they expect us to accept their own claims without evidence."

An anonymous person online can make any sort of claim. People can claim that they are members of Special Forces, or that they are multimillionaire entrepreneurs, or that they date supermodels. Some of these claims may be true, but many of them are false. It takes more than somebody's say-so to make such claims convincing.

Cold reading is not nearly as simple as Swiftsure makes it sound. It takes a good deal of skill and practice, as I'm sure any mentalist will attest. Let's not pretend that anybody can do it, or that it's as easy as mentioning a common name like "John" and letting the sitter fill in all the details. Some sitters are this simpleminded, but many are not. Certainly most of the commenters on this blog would not take the mention of a ubiquitous name like "John" as good evidence of anything.

Knowledgeable people take precautions before visiting a medium or psychic – they go under an assumed name, make sure to say nothing of significance that might be overheard in the waiting room, try to avoid "tells" that would assist in cold reading, etc. And most of us know that a great many of these mediums and psychics are either conscious fakes or deluded amateurs. Nevertheless, there are some who do seem to be genuine, and whose abilities have been tested under controlled conditions, going back to the 19th century. It's not necessary for me to rehash all this evidence, as it is available in the archives of this blog and in many books. (One of them is "Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death," by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Deborah Blum.)

If Swiftsure is really able to dazzle his friends by mentioning a remarkably common name and letting them fill in all the blanks, I would suggest he needs to find smarter friends! There's a germ of truth in what he says; cold readers do rely on the sitter to guide them and fill in gaps, though usually not to the exaggerated extent he suggests. That's why, when we read transcripts of such sessions, we look for information that the medium or psychic could not possibly have gleaned from any clues presented by the sitter.

Perhaps the ultimate example is the triple-blind telephone readings conducted by Gary Schwartz, in which neither the experimenter nor the medium knows who is on the other end of the telephone line (the call having been dialed at random by a computer selecting from one of three or four target numbers), and the sitter, having put the phone on mute, cannot hear the medium. Later, the sitter is given the real transcript of what the medium said, along with several alternative transcripts (with the experimenter himself still unaware of which transcript is the right one), and must rate each in terms of accuracy vis-à-vis his or her own personal situation. The results have been well above chance.

Similarly sophisticated testing methods have been used by other recent experimenters, such as Archie Roy and Patricia Robinson, and Julie Beischel. I doubt Swiftsure is aware of any of this work. Why should he be? He already knows that it's all fake, and that we're all gullible idiots. And he expects us to take his (anonymous) word for his own impressive successes as an amateur cold reader, even while he dismisses published peer-reviewed studies. How very "rational"!

Well said, Michael!

Michael –

You say: "Skeptics insist they will not accept any claims without evidence, yet they expect us to accept their own claims without evidence."

What claims are you referring to? OK, I did claim that those who profess to foresee the future did not predict some recent tragedies. I should maybe add another tragedy they did not predict, namely eight people being killed and several others injured in New York when they were mown down in an apparent terrorist attack. (Oh, and now a shooting in a church in Texas with twenty six dead and a similar number injured.) What evidence do you need me to supply to show that no psychic did anything at all useful to prevent those terrible events? (That’s my claim: psychics are useless when it comes to predictions or anything else that would be useful to anyone, or beneficial to humanity.) No doubt some alleged psychics will appear in due course to claim they did predict those awful events, but that will be later; it certainly wasn’t before. But call me a liar, why not? It’s the best ad hominem argument you have against me.

As surprising as it may seem to you, I don’t mind at all if anyone can prove the existence of anything paranormal, but it will take conclusive evidence. It wouldn’t need the endless claims made in non-accredited “peer reviewed” pseudo journals, it would take those claiming paranormal abilities to do what they claim – clearly and unambiguously.

For example, it was discovered that cholera could be eliminated if a supply of clean water could be provided. No-one knew about the existence of germs at that time, but it worked, even in the face of harsh criticism of that hypothesis. Later, germ theory emerged and current health practices reflect that finding. It became scientific. Unlike anything paranormal – ever.

Why doesn’t the paranormal community face up to criticism in the same way? Never mind laboratory tests reported in pseudo journals, just let the paranormal claimants do what they say they can do. But the reality is different:

Psychics do not solve crimes. (I might be wrong about that, but if you can supply an example of anyone being convicted in court as a result of a psychic’s “impressions” given (and accepted) as legitimate testimony, I will take it seriously after I have checked it out.)

Psychics do not find oil for petroleum companies. (Maybe you can supply any oil company’s annual report that details their use of psychics rather than geologists; that would impress me and any other sceptic.)

Psychics do not… etc.

Like the early scientific pioneers, if only anyone could demonstrate any paranormal claims outside of a laboratory, in a way that could not be denied by any rational person, then they would have a chance of being taken seriously. I am familiar with the work of many of the paranormal promoters you have listed here and previously, but I would suggest that you are not scientifically literate yourself. If you were, then you would understand why science in general, and sceptics like me, do not accept that their paranormal claims are real. If “psychic energy” is real, then any claim of its existence requires that its proponents have to not only demonstrate it, but also demonstrate how this “energy” fits in with the already known (and well tested) physical conservation laws. If the laws of thermodynamics are wrong, that’s a big thing; let’s see you get that published in a (real) peer reviewed journal. Let’s see any university in the world take it up and lead the world in Nobel Prize-winning awards.

Do you think that is going to happen? I don’t, and I don’t think you think it is going to happen either – although you might be able to offer the usual excuses for that; you won’t, however, offer any testable hypotheses, will you?

Matt’s original post here was his ideas about why he thinks the paranormal will never be accepted by rational people (or Skeptics, if you prefer). The actual reason paranormal claims are not accepted by people like me is that they have not been proven to be real, and in many cases the proponents have been found to be mistaken, or outright frauds, or just naïve enough to believe they couldn’t be fooled. But the problem with much of parapsychology is that the researchers are trying to prove the existence of their pet hypotheses, when in fact (if they were being truly scientific) they should be trying to falsify such hypotheses. And if they confirm their hypotheses, then other researchers should be able to replicate them.

You are missing the point entirely if you think you have scored some sort of victory over me because I gave the name “John” as an example of what an alleged psychic might say to an audience; any name will do. And you are also wrong if you think Sylvia Browne was, by any stretch of the imagination, some kind of mentalist. You are also wrong if you imagine I think I am a mentalist; I am nothing of the sort and I make no such claim. When I have “amazed” people by “telling them things I couldn’t have possibly known” it has been in the context of demonstrating how psychics fool people, not by pretending to be a psychic.

Still, I have to say that I do regularly make predictions for people, and whether you want to believe me or not, I can tell you that my success rate so far is 100%! And that is with no claimed psychic powers at all. For instance, I try never to miss an opportunity to tell someone who has bought a lottery ticket: “You will not win the jackpot with that ticket.” So far, I have never been wrong, but even if one of those people does win the big one, at least I can say that one wrong prediction out of a thousand (or whatever it might be by now) is still pretty impressive. Now, call me a liar, but consider the fact that if I tell someone they will not win the lottery, all I am doing is confirming to them something they already think to be true anyway. That is psi in a nutshell.

One more point: mass shootings happen in the USA at an average rate of more than one per day, and there are numerous websites that track them. Here’s one:

Wouldn’t it be great if psychics created a similar website with the same information, but published days before rather than after those events? Unfortunately, “It doesn’t work like that,” as I have been told so many times by those who profess, but cannot demonstrate, their claimed paranormal abilities.

Just prove any of it and I will be converted. In the meantime, when someone like you calls someone like me a liar, you are doing nothing more than showcasing your ignorance of how the world actually works.

Wow, that was a lot of words to say very little.

Psychics have assisted in solving crimes. Not by testifying in court - such testimony would of course be inadmissible - but by providing police with leads.

Here’s a post that focuses on a false psychic claim but also includes some accurate ones:

Here’s a news story on another case:

The famed Jacqui Poole case, covered at length in this blog, provides yet another example. (Search the blog archive if you’re interested.)

Predicting that someone will not win the lottery is not a serious prediction. If your friends are impressed by this kind of statement, you really do need to get smarter friends. To have evidential value, a prediction must involve an event that is unlikely (or a series of events, like coin flips, whose cumulative result is unlikely - e.g., a disproportionate number of heads vs. tails).

I don’t know why you’re so bent out of shape over the fact that I’m skeptical of your claim to be a skilled cold reader. Very few amateurs possess this skill. There’s no reason for me to take your word for it, any more than you would take me at my word if I claimed to be a professional-level tennis player or a self-taught concert violinist. Anybody can say anything online. Some evidence is needed, no?

Oh, and Sylvia Browne certainly was a mentalist, in the sense of being a fake psychic who used cold reading techniques (and other tricks). Of course she claimed to be a real psychic, not a mentalist, but so what?

\\"I should maybe add another tragedy they did not predict, namely eight people being killed and several others injured in New York when they were mown down in an apparent terrorist attack. (Oh, and now a shooting in a church in Texas with twenty six dead and a similar number injured.) What evidence do you need me to supply to show that no psychic did anything at all useful to prevent those terrible events?" - Swiftsure//

When Pilate was talking to Jesus he asked him "Are the King of Jews?" Jesus replied "My Kingdom is not of this world." This life is not about this life, it's preparation for the next. We simply learn here the things that can't be learned in the place we call heaven.

So why the bad stuff? The things that happen here, including the bad stuff, happen for a reason. In this case they were excellent lessons in separation. Why would we need lessons in separation? Because the feelings of oneness and connectedness (as described by numerous near death experiencers) on the other side may be so powerful and overwhelming that it may be impossible to know or learn what it means or how it feels to be separate. And this life seems to be exceedingly good for us to experience separation.

From the moment we are born and separate from our mothers till the day we die and our death becomes a lesson in separation to the loved ones we leave behind. Religion, politics, race, culture, language, dialects, wealth, status, looks including height and weight, gender, sexual orientation, just about everything in this life can be a lesson in learning about separation.

And the more emotion that is involved in these lessons the more powerful and long lasting the memory it creates. Memory and emotion are closely linked. Emotion make the memories last.

According to many physicist our Universe may just be a holographic projection from someplace else and the interesting thing is that is how a lot of near death experiencers describe what they experienced on the other side. They use language that sounds very similar to how Michael Talbot described in his book The Holographic Universe. And consilience says that when a whole lot of disparate sources all say the same thing there is a good chance it is true.

So my point is that we see death as being the absolute worst thing that can happen when in actuality it may very well be the best day of our lives. Like pieces of a puzzle there is quite a bit of evidence from disparate sources that seem to point in the direction that there is something that comes afterwards, and if many NDEs and death bed visions are to be believed it is a place where we will feel like we are home.

So all those people who are dead are not really dead and their deaths happened for a reason. Michelle M in her NDE description called this side "a dream in itself" and after we get to the other side we may look back on this life like it was a hoax or illusion to quote Roger Ebert's final moments with his wife.

And if we knew absolutely for certain that there was another side then all the lessons we experience wouldn't evoke as much emotion and we wouldn't remember them as well. The lessons we learn here, as painful as they are, have to be the way they are to overcome those feelings of oneness and connectedness and lack of time and space in the place we call heaven.

I don't think that legitimate and tested psychics or mediums were or are good prognosticators. Foretelling future events is usually not what they do. Some well-known psychics may predict a pregnancy but it could be that this is not really prognostication but discerning what currently exists, that is, an unrecognized existing pregnancy. There is an example of a medium discerning what will be in the next morning newspaper but that may simply be clairvoyance, that is, seeing something set in type that is already in existence ready to be printed in the next day's newspaper.

Obviously, no psychic or medium is getting rich predicting the winning lottery numbers.

Those things generally categorized as paranormal usually are not of a type that can be easily proved by material evidence. They usually can't be called up on demand in a laboratory setting. (Gary Schwartz and others are trying to do that with some success.) Even when there are material photographs of spirits or recordings of direct spirit voices, skeptical people generally will believe they are fake or otherwise misrepresented or misinterpreted. Most of the proof of psychic events lies at a mental level, that is, usually the proof is what someone experienced, observed, felt or heard. It is difficult to convince most people of psychic events reported by others. True believers are those who experience those things for themselves, things such as levitation, apparitions, direct voice, apports, NDEs, OBEs EVPs and other phenomena.

For me, most of the 'proof' comes in the form of a giant convoluted puzzle that I have to put together. I have to put the pieces together after reading, considering, studying and evaluating all of the 'evidence' of the event, e.g., first-hand reports, studies, etc. I can find before I am convinced---or not--- that whatever I am interested in is not explainable by natural rather than supernatural means and that it is not due to chance.

I find especially convincing the transcribed writing of Geraldine Cummins as reported in her book "Swan on a Black Sea" in which she transcribes mental images and words from the departed spirit of Winifred Coombe-Tennant (Mrs. Willet) a reluctant medium herself, such information from 40 plus sessions subsequently verified as providing factual information unknown to Ms. Cummins by Mrs. Tennant's two sons. This is a relatively recent example occurring in the later part of the 1950s and worth reading by anyone truly serious about investigating mediums and psychic phenomena. - AOD

Amos said:

"Those things generally categorized as paranormal usually are not of a type that can be easily proved by material evidence . . . True believers are those who experience those things for themselves"

I think this is true, and that when you come right down to it, what we really want to know is this: is love real, is it eternal, and is it my essence?

Nothing else matters, which is why NDE's and the like are priceless. They answer all three questions with a resounding yes.

"If “psychic energy” is real, then any claim of its existence requires that its proponents have to not only demonstrate it, but also demonstrate how this “energy” fits in with the already known (and well tested) physical conservation laws."

Your comment is bullshit, because you assume that there has to be a psychic energy if psi is real but the fact is that nobody here has claimed that there is a psychic energy or there is a necessary connection between psychic energy and psychic phenomena.

"The actual reason paranormal claims are not accepted by people like me is that they have not been proven to be real, and in many cases the proponents have been found to be mistaken, or outright frauds, or just naïve enough to believe they couldn’t be fooled."

You think psi has not been proven, but other rational people have been convinced. So what? Are we going to accept you before other scientists? The fact is that rational people may not agree on some topic.

I think the problem is that psi is a "wild talent," meaning one that is not well understood or well controlled. As a result, the outcomes of experiments in psi can vary widely.

Perhaps the best example is the two-decade run of Project Star Gate, in which intelligence services and the military tested remote viewing. Enough impressive hits were scored to show that remote viewing is a real capability. And yet the same remote viewer who scored an amazing hit on Monday might produce a total miss on Tuesday. Worse still, the remote viewer wouldn’t even know when he was off target. His misses felt just as authentic to him as his hits.

In the end, authorities decided that remote viewing, though legitimate, was not reliable enough to be used in real-world situations. It would be like relying on a satellite that provided accurate photos half the time and fictitious photos the rest of the time, with no way to tell the difference.

Mediumistic messages suffer from the same defect. Enough accurate messages come through to convince most observers that there is a real phenomenon at work, but enough garbled, inane, or simply untrue messages come through to make most sittings somewhat frustrating.

Until psi is better understood and subject to better control, it will continue to provide mixed results, with plenty of fodder for both the pro and anti sides of the debate.

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