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Just because one thing is balogna doesn't mean it's all balogna. Reminds me of a sermon I heard one time when I was nineteen years old. I was in church and the preacher was holding up the bible and he says "it's either all true or it's all lies!" At the time, since I was nineteen years old that made sense to me, but now that I'm a whole lot older, and hopefully a little bit wiser, I know that like all books, some of it can be true and some of it can be pure and utter made up culturally influenced embellishment. It doesn't have to be all or nothing.

I think the best evidence about remote viewing are Stephan A Schwarz' studies. The psychics Geroge McMullen and Hella Hammid were never caught in fraud, and they did wonderful archaeological discoverys.

Rubel says he had to go into a semi-trance to duplicate Serios' feat. What exactly does that mean? Does it mean that the feat was achieved by paranormal means with him as well? Why was a semi-trance necessary for a trick? Is he saying that he was faking the semi-trance? If so, that is not clear.

One way or the other, without explaining Serios' process in detail and without explaining his own process, Rubel tells us nothing to support his claim of fraud. We would need an independent researcher to compare the details of Serios' "phenomenon" with those of Rubel's "trick" to be able to make any judgment on the matter. Why demand strict testing of a medium and then simply accept the word of a debunker without evidence of his debunking claim?

"Is he saying that he was faking the semi-trance?"

That was my interpretation. It's my hope that Mr. Rubel will participate in this thread and clarify some of these details.

"Why demand strict testing of a medium and then simply accept the word of a debunker without evidence of his debunking claim?"

I'm not accepting (or rejecting) anything. Just passing along some info. If you click on the link to my previous post about Serios, you'll see that I'm not convinced sleight of hand is an adequate explanation. Mr. Rubel's report has not changed my mind about this, but I still think any eyewitness account is worth considering.

Michael,

I did not meant to imply, or for you to infer, that you were accepting Rubel's word. I was just throwing that out as a general comment.

I just finished reading the fourth of Dr. William Crawford's books on the mediumship of Kathleen Goligher, a young Irish medium of the early 1900s. He sat with her at least 87 times and recorded much in the way of physical phenomena, especially levitations. He did detailed weight experiments showing that the medium gained aprox. 16 pounds, the weight of the table being levitated. Sir William Barrett also observed and attested in detail to the genuineness of her mediumship. Observations were made under red light. Crawford crawled under the table, measured the distance off the floor, etc., etc. And yet, when Fournier d'Albe investigated on behalf of the SPR, not much happened. Thus, he concluded that Crawford, Barrett and others who observed Goligher were all duped. It apparently never occurred to him that he brought in negative engery that defeated the phenomena. It is as if there must always be a final debunking story to cast doubt.

Rubel was very nice to allow you to post this. I only wish he had included enough information to make his claims substantial.

What I think raises questions here is how Rubel (at the moment so far anyways) won't go into details about how he reproduced Serios' work. There might very well be a legitimate reason why he can't now, but ultimately in the long run if he can't divulge the details, it ultimately raises questions about the validity of his (Rubel's) claims.

I think one should wait and see what happens, I don't think we should fall into the same fallacy that we accuse the "skeptics" of in dismissing opposing views right off the bat without consideration.

On the note of Serios, I find it interesting according to Wikipedia, James Randi claimed to have been able to reproduce Serios' work but when requested to do it, didn't want to. Stephen Braude called out Randi in that it wasn't because Randi didn't want to, but couldn't.

“He did detailed weight experiments showing that the medium gained aprox. 16 pounds, the weight of the table being levitated.”

Very interesting information Michael T. I have read where the medium lost the same amount of weight as the manifested entity but this medium gaining the same weight as the table being levitated is interesting and may indeed explain how this is accomplished.

The table becomes weightless and therefore is not affected by gravity????????????

Are there other ways an object or person can overcome gravity.

I become friends with a client of mine in California and she claimed one night while her mother and her friends were playing around with an ouija board a round table lifted off the floor and the top screwed off all on its own. After that it scared her so much she refused to attend any more séances with her own mother and her mother’s friend.

Rubel´sclaims are worthless, because inparanormal science not only the phenomena themselves are important, also the conditions under which paranormal activity is witnessed. As stated by Stephen Braude several times, if the conditions are not discussed, then it is a waste of time to dicuss about it. Btw. Banachek has also produced similar things (so called thoughtphotography) during the project alpha. So nothing new, but the controls were never mentioned and that was important.

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Persi Diaconis claims he caught Serios sneaking a marble with a photograph on it into the camera.

[MP: Link removed because it opened a spyware application. However, I found the same info at a safe site. From an interview wirth Diaconis:

"How did you become involved in the debunking of extrasensory perception?"

"I got hooked on it through Martin Gardner. Somebody had sent a book into Scientific American about 'psychic' photography. The claim was that a guy called Ted Serios could take a Polaroid picture and it would have some image produced just by his thoughts on it - a plane flying through the picture or a Cro-Magnon man, say. Martin paid me and some technical photographers to go and watch this guy. I caught him sneaking a little marble with a photograph on it into a tube in front of the camera. It was a trick."

http://mytiddlywiki.wikispaces.com/

This explanation would not cover the full range of phenomena purportedly produced by Serios, of course. Note that Diaconis apparently does not even accept the evidence for ESP.]

"On the note of Serios, I find it interesting according to Wikipedia, James Randi claimed to have been able to reproduce Serios' work but when requested to do it, didn't want to. Stephen Braude called out Randi in that it wasn't because Randi didn't want to, but couldn't."

Apparently, Randi did reproduce the basic trick on television, in the presence of Serios and Eisenbud.

Eisenbud's request was that Randi, a non-drinker, perform the trick with the same level of blood alcohol as Serios, and that he first undergo a cavity search and be dressed in a seamless rubber costume.

The alcohol condition is unreasonable enough — a non-drinker would black out long before reaching what to a heavy drinker would count as "blind drunk" — which renders the other conditions moot. Perhaps if Eisenbud had dropped the alcohol condition it would have more force, but then it would still remain to be shown that Serios himself could succeed under those conditions, with independent and reliable investigators — from what I gather, we have to take Eisenbud's word for it, and his credentials as an investigator are exactly what's in doubt here.

"Perhaps if Eisenbud had dropped the alcohol condition it would have more force"

Eisenbud did drop that condition as soon as Randi objected to it (a detail that Randi has neglected to mention publicly). I know this because I've read the actual correspondence between Randi and Eisenbud, which is archived at the University of Maryland (Baltimore) as part of their Ted Serios collection.

"Jane Roberts, who channeled for "Seth" was a textbook example of the signs that shout FRAUD."

You cannot be serios.

What I think raises questions here is how Rubel (at the moment so far anyways) won't go into details about how he reproduced Serios' work. There might very well be a legitimate reason why he can't now,
No, there can’t be any such reason. What would that possibly be?

"Persi Diaconis claims he caught Serios sneaking a marble with a photograph on it into the camera."

Has Serios really ever been caught cheating?

I don't really see how Rubel duplicating what Serios did is evidence that Serios was fraudulent. Why not ask Serios to repeat the exercise and then catch him out?

This reminds me of the experiment carried out by Richard Wiseman wherein he set up a fake seance and then introduced actors in the darkness to touch the sitters and simulate the movement of object. This was presented (at least by the TV producers) as evidence suggesting mediumship is fraudulent. As evidence it is is valueless other than as an exercise on which to base some method for catching fraudulent mediums.

Even on the face of it Rubel's comments are of no use in determining whether Serios was a fraud or not. Surely Rubel see this?

Michael, to me, when Richard Wiseman (and his kind) demand higher standards of evidence from studies of the paranormal, they betray a certain fuzziness of thinking.

First of all, there's the vagueness of just what exactly constitutes the 'paranormal' (and, therefore, what should be required to provide - in Carl Sagan's words - "extraordinary evidence").

Second of all, where is the scientific definition of what exactly constitutes this "extraordinary evidence"? Without it, how can paranormal researchers ever be expected to meet or surpass its requirements or, for that matter, sceptics avoid being accused of continuously moving the goal posts?

Thirdly, why isn't 'proper' Science - like, say, Wiseman's own field, Psychology -required to meet these extraordinary standards?

Could it be because much of 'proper' Science - e.g., research into Dark Matter - might not be able to provide such "extraordinary evidence"?

Is Psychology regarded as proper Science these days?

As someone else said, just because he can produce something similar to what Serios was able to does not mean Serios was a fraud. I think there might have been times when Serios fraudulently achieved results. Still, when tight controls were placed on him I think those pics might be legit- similar to how I feel about Eusapia Palladino. One thing I find interesting about the pics Serios made is that they are regularly not exact copies of the scene- that there are often obvious details that are completely different.

I recall the fascination reading the book about Ted Serios. Several of his 'photos' had subtle differences from the real world version, how he did this thru trickery still intrigues me. One in particular, of a building composed of very distinct brickwork, was changed to a mottled stone facade in his version. His picture was quite sharp, but the exterior had clearly changed in composition. Maybe it was just a 'lucky' break for him, but it certainly had me convinced. I brought that up to James Randi, and not pausing to stop signing autographs countered with "Well you must believe in the Tooth Fairy too" :) Part of me wants to believe, but it's so much easier to say "it just can't be".

@James

I think recognising that part of you wants to believe is important because it will help to maintain balance. Personally I would prefer to know rather than believe on the basis of the statements of a stranger.

Without knowing for certain how a particular photo was produced it seems to me impossible to reach a final conclusion on the matter either way. The trouble I have with reported phenomena is that I am taking the word of the investigator about what did and didn't happen and what precautions were taken to reduce the risk of fraud.

Having said that, there is a significant amount of data reported by reputable people over many years. Is it enough to convince beyond reasonable doubt? I don't know - I think that is a personal decision. Can it be simply waved away by the likes of Randi and others, particular those who have carried out very little research, if any? I don't think so.

Re: removed link

The article is on the New Scientist site Michael, it's probably a false positive with your antivirus software?

re: the marble, it may not seem to explain all the phenomena but I think it's important because (1) the use of a trick in the "easiest" conditions makes it more likely he's using tricks for the rest, it doesn't make any sense that someone with genuine abilities would need a trick for the easiest case; and (2) it calls into question the skills of the investigators, in particular as to whether the "harder conditions" actually existed as they were reported, or had some minor flaws that Serios was able to repeatedly exploit.

The info about Eisenbud dropping the alcohol clause is new to me, but I guess from Randi's perspective he's being unfairly asked to perform the trick under impossible conditions. Serios would also have to perform under such conditions, and he claimed to have lost his abilities by the 1970s, which I'm guessing is when the correspondence with Randi took place?

@James:
use of a marble might be a good explanation for distortion of the images. By lightly sanding the surface (or leaving them unsmoothed at manufacture if he had a friend in a factory) you could give them a "mottled" texture like you explain, and the descriptions of a stretchy, dream-like look could be achieved by a marble with irregular glass density due to uneven cooling.

"it's probably a false positive with your antivirus software?"

When I clicked on the link, it opened a window saying my system had to be scanned for viruses. This is a spyware scam.

"re: the marble, it may not seem to explain all the phenomena but I think it's important"

Important if true. Do we know it's true?

We have only the word of one skeptic who seems to be a protege of Martin Gardner. I have a low opinion of Gardner, who pioneered the modern skeptical tactic of using ridicule and sarcasm as weapons. The field of skepticism would have done much better if serious people like Milbourne Christopher and Marcelo Truzzi had set the pace.

Of course, the marble claim could be true, but why should I take one person's word for it, when it is contradicted by the testimony of people who studied Serios for years, and even filmed him in action?

I would never list the Serios case as one of the strongest cases for psi. Still, I'm not inclined to take every skeptical debunking claim at face value, any more than I would take every claim by Eisenbud et al at face value.

"by the 1970s, which I'm guessing is when the correspondence with Randi took place?"

I would have to look it up. I don't remember.

"but I guess from Randi's perspective he's being unfairly asked to perform the trick under impossible conditions."

Then maybe he should have said this publicly, rather than falsely claiming that the alcohol issue was the dealbreaker.

James, if I was Randi I would take my time to explain why I felt Serios was faking it rather than throw out something snarky like that.

"When I clicked on the link, it opened a window saying my system had to be scanned for viruses. This is a spyware scam."

It sounds like you might already have some malware on your PC, and it's opening advertising popups that look like they're coming from the sites you're visiting. It's called a "browser hijack", and it's one of the most common malware problems.

I clicked around and couldn't find any popups, and I can't see a major site like NS allowing that kind of stuff. The only other advertiser I could find on there was American Express.

From an old episode of "In Search of..."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2knQ7ig4Y0

At around 3:16 they show the frequently discussed session with Ted and the video camera. With respect to the "marble" aspect of Ted's trickery, I think a close examination of the section of film (immediately before the credits) showing the camera's view of Ted through the "gizmo" is in order here.

At one time, I was still willing to suspend disbelief about Ted Serios, but this was the nail in the coffin for me. Ironically, I was probably first exposed to Ted Serios as a child by this very same program.

Also, it's interesting to note some of the conditions under which Eisenbud's results were produced, as depicted on film.

James Randi sure does make a great heel for the paranormal world, doesn't he? I think Eisenbud's demand, retracted or not, that Randi get as drunk as Ted while performing the trick was a testament to just how under Ted's thumb he was. The drinking was all part of his misdirection routine.

Thanks very much for the YouTube link. I agree that the final footage, showing an image inside the "gismo," is suspicious as hell. It looks very much as if there is a slide inside the tube, illuminated from behind. This would be the most obvious explanation, and one that is consistent with skeptical recreations of Serios' act.

If this explanation is correct, the investigators must have been totally inept not to catch Serios cheating -- which would of course call into question all aspects of their investigation.

Anyone else have any ideas about this footage?

No problem. I've read your posts about Serios before, I figured this was as good a place as any to air my opinions about this. I first took note of this footage about a year ago, and all I could do was laugh and think, "That slick little bastard!"

If Ted Serios had a talent, I believe it was in sizing up and exploiting the weaknesses of anyone who was willing to take him seriously. Even based on Eisenbud's lengthy account, Ted was a master at devising and cultivating a chaotic environment, readily conducive to subterfuge and long-term confidence trickery.

Regardless, Ted Serios and his relationship with Jule Eisenbud is a fascinating, and often sad, human story. The Jungian machinations that Eisenbud went through to explain Ted's "misses" were beautiful in their own twisted way.

If you haven't seen it, the footage of Ted and Jule's reunion from "Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers" is pretty damned depressing -- it begins with a trip to pick up "essential supplies" at the liquor store.

In the end, people who want to believe will still believe no matter what the evidence, and since that atmosphere isn't likely to disappear any time soon, people like Ted will still be able to work miracles in the gaps of people's perception and the vacuum of their imaginations. I can't say I blame them for enjoying being filled with wonder, but from personal experience, that's an *extremely* slippery slope to stand upon.

Oh, and here's a YouTube link to the aforementioned "Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers" episode:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsSWQzWKj6Y

Wouldn't it be funny if this guy that has reproduced Serios' work and says he knows how it was done, was actually using, unbeknown to himself, the same psychic method as Serios?

not sure we should forgot this research too readily. A lot of apparent psychics have resorted to cheating, when their abilities have deserted them, but nonetheless, have demonstrated psi under well controlled conditions. A stronger argument could be made if we can find good evidence from more stringent conditions and / or features that are hard to fabricate. The inverted characterisitcs of a lot of the "thoughtographs" counters against the fraud hypothesis. Eisenbud doesn't appear to have been the most careful or critical of experimenters though.

"The Jungian machinations that Eisenbud went through to explain Ted's "misses" were beautiful in their own twisted way."

I agree that Eisenbud's rococo explanations of Serios' missed targets are unpersuasive. It's important to remember, though, that Eisenbud did score them as misses, so his "Jungian machinations" had no effect on the actual tally. (See my earlier post on Serios, linked in the main post, for an example.)

"In the end, people who want to believe will still believe no matter what the evidence"

That's often true, but I think it is equally true of skeptics, who have their own agenda and worldview. In my observation, many on the pro-paranormal side are at least aware of their own biases, while skeptics, very often, are not.

"The inverted characterisitcs of a lot of the 'thoughtographs' counters against the fraud hypothesis."

No, these characteristics actually support the claims of fraud when the mechanism employed is an ad hoc optical system most likely chosen to introduce distortions and flaws into the results.

And yes, Michael, I'm aware of the fact that Eisenbud would stress that he was counting results as experimental "misses" before launching into stream-of-association examinations of how they could have possibly been subconscious "hits" by way of symbolic connections. But whether they had any effect on the tallied results or not is sort of irrelevant when you consider the uncontrolled experimental conditions and the fact that we never see the raw data in any meaningful way.

I'm not sure I'd like to throw my hat into the ring here regarding skepticism versus belief in general terms, but when it comes to the case of Ted Serios, I'm personally convinced that it was a gloriously entertaining deception.

Do you think that Serios was a fraud in general. The possibility of fraud by using the gismo is well discussed in Stephen Braude s book. The problem is how do you explain the results, when Serios was not in contact with the camera, e.g. at least once in a separate room. Further take a look at R Pilkington s discussion, she also came to the same conclusion, taking the gismo and hiding picture does never account for the phenomena witnessed under other conditions.

Yes, I do think he was a fraud.

Didn't Eisenbud even admit to catching Serios surreptitiously fooling around with cameras and/or film and passing it off as a mischievous prank when he was confronted about it?

As far as I know, eyewitness testimony of results like that (e.g. separate rooms) is nothing more than anecdotal, and when used to bolster a paranormal hypothesis, it often discounts the possibility that multiple methods of deception were being employed. I would even put forward the possibility that unspoken (and perhaps even unconscious) cooperation on the part of one or more observers over the years could have taken place.

Have you an idea how this film was produced, I think Clarke did not want to show him in a suspicious light. In order to come to such a conclusion that at least this short scene looks like a hoax, we have to know the conitions of the film production. Further as Braude has discussed in his book no one until know, obviously not Rani, was able to produce faked thoughtphotography under the claims of the sceptics (by usng a gismo with hidden pictures) under test controls. At the end it is only a kind of belief.
Eisenbud has investigated him and also other under different conditions, regarding them as anecdotal phenomena with a hidden mafia of scientists or stooges woud not account for paranormal phenomena in general.
It was too often shown and concluded by others like the late Fodor, Price,.. that in public acting mediums were mostly producung mixed phenomena. I think that this can also be concluded for most science. Try to reproduce results from Nature articles and then you will see.

thanks for the Youtube links. I had seen the ISO on TV years ago, videotaped it but never could slow it down sufficiently (clearly) to come to a conclusion. Now it's very easy to do so of course, and a frame capture clearly shows something inside that matches the thoughtograph. Does cheating one time prove fraud all times - for me it does. To think otherwise means a supposedly gifted person decided it would be necessary to have (and perfect) a back-up method to produce results, when the 'gift' wasn't working. I can't buy that. Getting off-topic a bit, but wouldn't someone with just a teensy bit of true, repetitive, psychic ability have amassed a staggering fortune in Las Vegas? Vegas may be the best argument against intuition, tele-kinesis and the like.

Except if you were going around repeatedly winning huge amounts of money above and beyond what would reasonably be expected by chance (which isn't a lot, seeing as the odds of winning are always stacked in the house's favour), you'd be blacklisted as a cheat even if they couldn't prove how you were doing it (casinos reserve the right to refuse entry to anyone they don't like the look of, and they keep and share records of such people ensuring you can't just move from casino to casino everytime you're barred from one). Casinos blacklist card counters like this, even though it's technically not illegal, try getting away with it more than a few times and see what happens.

The Vegas argument IMO isn't a good one if you think about it. If such people existed, people who could manipulate their world through unnaturally good intuition, there are many reasons why they'd want to stay quiet about what they can do. I know I would. Why would I want to want to go on TV and bend spoons as a "celebrity psychic", when I could make a fortune anonymously through stocks and shares?

I suppose the answer to the implied question, "where are the psychic millionaires?" is simple, if they existed (and I'm not saying they do), you probably wouldn't know them from anyone else who's made money. Why ruin a good thing? :)

There are some (possibly) psychic millionaires. Uri Geller is reportedly paid large amounts of money by oil and gas companies to locate deposits of fossil fuels. Some time ago I saw a writeup on a woman, whose name I forget, who uses "intuition" to advise corporations on business strategy, and has become extremely successful. And we have no idea how many entrepreneurs may owe their success to intuition, premonitions, a sixth sense, etc. As Breanainn says, "you probably wouldn't know them from anyone else who's made money."

Ted Serios may well have been a fraud, but I don't buy the idea that a single case of cheating necessarily invalidates a psychic. Psi abilities are unpredictable and elusive, and someone who makes a living as a psychic may feel the (regrettable) need to cheat on his "off days." There can be physical aftereffects from using psi; Eusapia Palladino used to feel sick for two or three days after her seances, which may be why she resorted to fraud when she thought she could get away with it. Powers can decline with age and infirmity; possibly this is why Arthur Ford cheated in his later years, after becoming an alcoholic. Finally, there is a tricksterish mentality found in many psychics and mediums; some of them just enjoy playing games with people. George Hansen's book "The Trickster and the Paranormal" goes into detail on this point.

A simplistic black-or-white approach doesn't work in this area.

The following info is from Stephen Braude's essay "The Thoughtography of Ted Serios":
Serios often produced multiple images in a single session. He would have needed to replace the images in the gismo many times throughout the session- while avoiding the detection of the observers who were watching him closely. Also, the gismo was examined before, during, and after sessions and no image was ever found inside. The experimenters often held the gismo before the experiment was underway. Serios often produced images in complete darkness as well as on unexposed, opaquely wrapped film.
Serios produced more than 36 images one to sixty-six feet from the camera. These effects were observed on twelve occasions in different locations by witnesses who held and triggered the Polaroid camera. For the hidden image in the gismo theory to have credibility Serios would have had to be no more than a fraction of an inch from the camera lens. Eisenbud and other researchers tried to duplicate Serios's effects with transparencies in the gismo but could not. Sometimes Serios was dressed in clothes provided by the experimenter with the experimenter holding the camera. Also, the hidden image in the gismo hypothesis does not explain the "blackies" and "whities" that Serios was able to produce. Eisenbud was not the only person to study Serios. Some of the other studies were conducted by researchers at at the Division of Parapsychology of the University of Virginia Medical School- the researchers obtained some striking results and could detect no signs of fraud.

Thanks, NG. I admit that I find Serios perplexing. On the one hand, the YouTube video certainly does not inspire confidence (to put it mildly). On the other hand, the accounts you cite make it hard to accept the sleight-of-hand hypothesis.

I doubt I'll ever know what to think about Ted. Maybe that's how he would have wanted it.

Merry Christmas, Michael and everyone!

This is not apropos the current discussion, but rather another topic that we've discussed here before. On Carol Bowman's Past Life Forum
http://www.childpastlives.org/vBulletin/showthread.php?t=15961
there's a section called "Children's cases of interest."

I've been reading the first case, which is about a 3-year-old who has compelling memories of being a fireman killed in the 9/11 event. In many ways, it's like the James Leininger case of a young boy who recalls being a WWII fighter.

It's a fascinating read. The forum discussion has been archived, so you can follow the case as it develops in real time: a mother who is suddenly confronted by a child with uncanny knowledge he just shouldn't have, and her efforts to come to terms with what's happening.

I've only read the the first part of the discussion, so I don't know the end of the story. Ands this is only the first of about ten cases presented.

Anyway, I couldn't help but remember that it was Carol Bowman's work that final convinced you, Michael, that reincarnation is a reality, in some form or another. (Boy, you sure resisted that notion for a while!) So I thought you might enjoy this.

Thanks for a great year of blogging, Michael!

More & more people know that blog are good for every one where we get lots of information any topics !!!


I would be interested to hear your views on near death experiences, Increase Penis Size.

Grammar, spambot. Do you use it?

lol I wonder if typepad has way of banning these Spam Bots Michael? if they come from the same IP addresses it would be quite easy but if there isn't a Function to ban them from your blog then that would be a royal pain in ass.

I used to Admin on a couple of vBulletin Forums and banning Spambots was the most tedious task.

TypePad automatically filters out a lot of spam (and occasionally a legitimate comment - especially if it's very long and/or contains a lot of links).

This blog doesn't get a huge amount of traffic, so the spambots haven't made many inroads here. But I do find that comment spam starts to collect on older threads, which is why I shut down the old threads after a decent interval.

"Some time ago I saw a writeup on a woman, whose name I forget, who uses "intuition" to advise corporations on business strategy, and has become extremely successful."

She's Laura Day. She gives lots of training workshops & speeches on training your intuition. Here's her website:

http://www.practicalintuition.com/

Thanks, Roger. That's who I was thinking of.

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