Friday, January 29, 2010

Psychics: Real, fake or just fucking useless?

Let's assume for the purposes of this post that psychics are real. More particularly let's assume that those psychics who claim to be able to talk to the dead really can do what they claim. Let's assume that they are not just people who are usually (but not always) good at cold, warm and hot reading. Let's assume that people like Sylvia Browne, James Van Praagh and John Edwards (not the US politician) are actually able to talk with the dead and are not just fakes who prey on the grieving, gullible and vulnerable. Let's assume that there is an afterlife and that it is possible for a tiny minority of people to communicate with those who reside in it. Let's assume that when someone says they are talking to your dead relative and all they get is "I have a male relative who may have, possibly, died, or been ill, with something, probably, to do with the chest, or stomach, area and whose first name begins with J. Or M. Or S. They want to say they love you and that [insert common household object or personal possession that is commonly misplaced] is [in a place where these things are commonly found, eventually]" they are actually talking to a dead relative and that is all they have to say.

Let's assume all this and then ask ourselves one question: What fucking use are psychics really?


Consider this: psychic powers just might be one of the greatest and most important developments in the evolution of the human race, and the ability to talk to people who have died is something that should be of incalculable benefit to the human race. But what we have instead are little more than circus entertainers appearing on Montel and Larry King to talk to housewives who watch drek like "The View" about dead relatives and predictions that no-one ever follows up on. Really, all the dead have is meaningless platitudes and the predictably and sickly sentimental?

Where are the psychic conference calls that link Curie, Darwin, Pasteur, Fleming, Gould, Sagan, Archimedes, Galileo, Copernicus, Boyle, Newton, Einstein, Edison, Bell, Ampère, Faraday, Maxwell, Poincaré, Planck, Schrödinger, Abū Alī Sīnā, Hubble and Rutherford (to name but a few of thousands) with modern scientists and modern discoveries and technology? What might some of the giants of science past be able to achieve now with technology and advances they never even dreamed of?

Think about why psychics never speak to these long dead scientists for just a little while and it should be obvious why they don't.

Why aren't long dead classical composers finishing symphonies or writing new ones through their psychic proxies?

Why aren't there philosophical discussions between Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Voltaire, Hume, Russell and Wittgenstein, hosted through their psychic proxies?

Why aren't the great inventors, innovators and engineers of our past suggesting solutions to our energy and climate problems through our erstwhile 'talkers to the dead'?

Why aren't historians talking to the players of history and finding out what really happened and why, perhaps solving many of the disputes that plague us to this day?

Why aren't murder victims naming their killer or providing in depth descriptions of them and what happened?

Why aren't Churchill, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Martin Luther King Jr, Lincoln, Washington, FDR, Lloyd George, Marcus Aurelius, Alexander the Great, Wellington, Nelson advising our current leaders?

Why aren't psychics talking to people who we really need?

With all the challanges which we face today, with all the problems humanity has to deal with, why aren't psychics actually speaking to people who could help us advance human civilisation, thought and science further and faster than it has ever gone before? Why is it that the best they can bring from their incredible ability is to talk to dead relatives of everyday people who have nothing useful to offer?

Why is it that when the dead just happen to get in touch with one of the tiny minority of people who can speak to them, at the exact time that the person they want to speak to is there, they have nothing useful to say? "I love you and I'm happy here." is all my dead relative wants to tell me? Nothing a bit more, well, important?

I'll be impressed when a psychic can tell someone something specific that only the dead person can know. I'll be impressed when a psychic can tell me my grandad's service number, or what happened the last time I saw him when only the two of us were there. I'm not impressed with "An older male relative, whose name begins with an E, or R, or maybe T who died from lack of oxygen to the brain."

Why aren't psychics talking to people who can help us right now?

In the end should we be more concerned with whether or not psychics are real or whether or not they can actually contribute anything worthwhile and meaningful? Doesn't the fact that psychics aren't doing the things highlighted suggest something else? Do they have this gift only to use it for personal gain rather than benefitting all of us? Why is it that they charge so much for their 'skills'? What does that say about psychics if their claimed abilities really exist?

Why aren't psychics using their skills to benefit all of humanity? If they can but won't, then they are unimaginably selfish. If they can't because their abilities are limited or don't exist, they're irrelevant at best and fradulent hucksters at worst.

If their abilities are real, then why aren't psychics doing more for the human race? The answer seems to me to be one of a few possibilities:

  1. Psychics are lying and can't do any of the supernatural things they claim.
  2. Psychics are selfish bastards who use their abilities for personal gain rather than to help all of humanity.
  3. Psychic skills are real but basically useless.
The evidence points me to option 1 - psychics are fake - but I'm still open to evidence that shows either of the other two. The absolute best that I could be willing to say about psychics, assuming that their abilities are real, is that they are fucking useless.

35 comments:

  1. If they are real shouldn't they be burnt at the stake? Isn't that what used to happen to people who made such claims?

    ReplyDelete
  2. No doubt that would be the appropriately accurate religious response - I think we should just point and laugh!

    ReplyDelete
  3. uh, but the science does not know everything :D

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous:

    For the love of dog please tell me that is sarcasm.

    On the likely chance that it isn't then you just don't get it, do you?

    If science does not know everything is to be used as an excuse to accept the validity of absurdities then where do we stop, exactly, and why? Flying horses? Half women half fish people? The ability to see through walls with x-ray eyes?

    Regardless of the doggerel of 'science doesn't know everything', science does indeed not know everything but properly controlled and well designed scientific studies do show that psychics are either shit at what they claim to do or don't actually have the powers they claim.

    That's what science does know, and that was my point.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fake fuckers thay see idiots from a mile off

      Delete
  5. As someone with psychic proclivities I have to say I agree with most of your comments.

    A few things:

    1. Psychic often refers to any of the following: telekinesis, telepathy, medium-ship, remote viewing, astral travel, etc.

    2. The reason these things are perceived as pseudo-sciences is because of exactly what you said: It's quite a remarkable, profound thing (evolutionarily) but even more than that it is POWER and the people in this world holding the reigns do not want the average person to know/think it's possible.

    3. A cursory examination into some of the more elite people in this world will reveal an overwhelming trend: They are all into the occult. They all have astrologists, they all plan events based on numerology. This is all public knowledge.


    Of course your answer to this will be Randi, or some science mantra, which is fine. As I said, being as I am and living in this world I have heard both many times. Randi is a fraud. I will just say that now; but I do trust in and have a great respect for the scientific method. The discrepancy between the method and the white coat religious enterprise we call 'peer reviewed' is perhaps a post for another time.

    ReplyDelete
  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcel_Vogel

    You may find this man interesting. He explains why traditional tests for psychic ability are categorically impossible, as these things are inextricably linked to emotion. Psychic phenomena are in many cases a sort of exception to the Wittgenstein beetle-box in that meaning of the phenomena is inaccessible linguistically but can still have predictive power

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A delusion is a belief held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary.[1] As a pathology, it is distinct from a belief based on false or incomplete information, confabulation, dogma, illusion, or other effects of perception.
      Delusions typically occur in the context of neurological or mental illness, although they are not tied to any particular disease and have been found to occur in the context of many pathological states (both physical and mental). However, they are of particular diagnostic importance in psychotic disorders including schizophrenia, paraphrenia, manic episodes of bipolar disorder, and psychotic depression.

      Delete
  7. Matt:

    As someone with psychic proclivities I have to say I agree with most of your comments.

    So you agree that psychics are fake then? Or is it that they are useless that you agree with? Or is it the part where I point out maybe they are just monumentally selfish that you agree with? Or is it the part where I point out that there is a very obvious reason why psychics don't ever talk to really important people that they could be pinned down with in terms of the information provided? Or is it the part where I point out that they never have anything truly earth shattering to tell us that you agree with? Or maybe the bit where I point out cold, warm and hot reading?

    I'm guessing that you agree with most of those comments, you did after all say that you did. Which is interesting given that you claim to be psychic. Either that, or you and I are both using very different definitions of the words "agree" and "most" and you're attempting some concern trollery.

    1. Psychic often refers to any of the following: telekinesis, telepathy, medium-ship, remote viewing, astral travel, etc.

    Yes I know, what was your point? I'm going to guess this is merely laying the groundwork for the good old fashioned 'No True Scotsmen' at some point later on.

    My point was that psychics never seem able or willing to do anything good for human kind if their claimed abilities are indeed real - which makes the two alternatives seem much more likely. Psychics aren't real or they are selfish bastards. It doesn't matter if the psychic in question is a telekinetic or a medium, the point still stands.

    I do note that you don't address this point at all, but do claim to agree with it (you agree with most of my comments and most of my comments were making this point, don't forget). Which seems at odds with the claim that you are psychic, does it not?. It would seem to be that your claim of psychic proclivities is in fact an admission that you are one of those unimaginably selfish psychics.

    I admire your honesty.

    2. The reason these things are perceived as pseudo-sciences is because of exactly what you said: It's quite a remarkable, profound thing (evolutionarily) but even more than that it is POWER and the people in this world holding the reigns do not want the average person to know/think it's possible.

    Or they are, in fact, pseudoscience. I'm quite at a loss how the people in power have managed to keep a lid on this, what with there being people who are psychic and all. Do please explain how this is being done and provide your evidence for it.

    For instance, how does a government track down and capture someone who can travel the astral-plane, exactly? How does one imprison someone who can manipulate matter with their mind? How does someone prevent a telepath from sending messages to everyone who can hear?

    Or maybe you are saying that these abilities give governments power so they keep them for themselves - back to selfish or just plain evil psychics.

    Please do elaborate on your conspiracy theory.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Continuing:

    3. A cursory examination into some of the more elite people in this world will reveal an overwhelming trend: They are all into the occult. They all have astrologists, they all plan events based on numerology. This is all public knowledge.

    So these elite people could be stupid too - your point?

    But go on, which elite people are we talking about? What is your evidence that they are all into the occult? What does being into the occult even mean? Most importantly though - people believing something doesn't make it real, that is the logical fallacy called the appeal to popularity at its most basic. I suppose you could also argue you are committing a twisted version of the appeal to authority as well.

    Of course, since your blog says you are interested in philosophy I'm sure you knew all about those fallacies. Right? Why you must have been using them just to catch me out. Why you sneaky dog you...

    Of course your answer to this will be Randi, or some science mantra, which is fine.

    I'm guessing one of your psychic powers isn't seeing the future at least. I suppose I did ask for that one thing that always trips up people like you though - EVIDENCE. Yes, damn me for sticking to those non-existent science mantras.

    Randi is a fraud.

    And your EVIDENCE for this is....?

    Damn, there I go with those science mantras.

    but I do trust in and have a great respect for the scientific method. [my link added]

    And yet no apparent sense of self or irony. But go on - how can you respect the scientific method whilst jumping all over it in shit covered shoes? Why would you dismiss calls for evidence as "science mantras" if you trust the scientific method? If you trust the scientific method then present your evidence, submit yourself to tests designed using the scientific method.

    Put your money where your mouth is.

    The discrepancy between the method and the white coat religious enterprise we call 'peer reviewed' is perhaps a post for another time.

    Oh yes, that pesky peer review. The one that forms a cornerstone of the scientific method you trust and respect. The one that keeps scientists honest. The one that more often than not spots fraud and pseudoscience. Oh wait, now I get it....

    How do you stand the cognitive dissonance?

    You may find this man interesting.

    Nope, not really. He is just another one of those men that people like you roll out when you are desperate to prove some scientist believing weird shit makes it real. Newton was also into alchemy, what's your point? Argument from authority - it is a logical fallacy remember.

    He explains why traditional tests for psychic ability are categorically impossible, as these things are inextricably linked to emotion.

    Did he trust and respect the scientific method too then? All very convenient of course - but how do you propose we establish the validity of claims to psychic powers without testing them then? Would you like me to roll out a whole bunch of scientists who say psychic powers can be tested in the lab? Then we could play who has the most famous supporters. Wouldn't mean shit though. And I'd win.

    Aw how cute, you name dropped Wittgenstein too. I'm so impressed. I must admit it's been a while since I studied the Philosophical Investigations but what I do know is that it has bugger all to do with whether or not psychics are real and what he did say seems to have passed you by completely.

    But how like a psychic to try and pretend philosophy matters in science anyway. Words are just descriptors of reality - they aren't the reality.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Now, using my psychic powers I predict we will, if Matt comes back, have some or all of the following from him:

    1. Redefinition of words with specific or commonly accepted definitions in order to suit him.

    2. More logical fallacies.

    3. Probably some variation on 'this is real science, not what you think'.

    4. Maybe some "You don't understand because you are close minded / unhappy / won't think out of the box /can't / don't have faith."

    5. An attempt to divert the conversation away from science and evidence and too philosophy.

    6. The avoidance of questions or points put to him.

    7. Maybe some complaints about tone.

    8. More conspiracy claims and still no evidence, but probably an exhortation to "Do your own research" or "Open your eyes" or "Surely you don't think the government/Big Pharma/Them are acting altruistically."

    9. Maybe more references to shadowy and incoherent 'elites'.

    10. Some anecdotes presented as scientific evidence.

    11. Some insults, possibly just passive-aggressive ones.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I keep hearing that "Randi is a fraud" mantra from the woos. I guess since their definition of "science" is different from mine, they don't require evidence.

    I guess their definition of "science" is I make up whatever I like the sound of and if other people agree with me, I'm right.

    Sound like a good woo definition of science? I sense a blog post coming over at my place...

    ReplyDelete
  11. Ryan:

    Sounds exactly like the definition of science these people use.

    ReplyDelete
  12. 12. Arguing that we are incapable of the necessary paradigm shift to understand his advanced post-scientific worldview.
    13 - 200+ The rest of the doggerel arguments as needed.

    People like Matt raid science just as relentlessly and ignorantly as they raid indigenous cultures or hinduism for fancy terms to dress up their tedious fantasies of magical powers. For Matt it probably started out as a genuine interest in unusual or new ideas, but the whole edifice depends on surreptitiuos attacks on science and sensibleness for its survival.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Some are real and some are not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is an outright lie!

      Delete
  14. And just which psychics do you think are fake, and why?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Chakras:

    So, as Yakaru stated, presumably you can say exactly which ones are fake and which aren't and then provide the evidence for these claims?

    After that, presumably you can also explain why the 'real' psychics are so selfish and are not doing anything to benefit mankind, as I pointed out in the post. Don't they want to help, or can't they?

    ReplyDelete
  16. JB, I'm trying to figure out why you get so many of these annoying one-off drive-by witnesses coming to testify.

    I wish one of them would stick around and tell us what their goals are by dropping such mindblowing bombs.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Not all psychics are fake.There also good ones.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. palm reader are good some of them as it's old tradition andlot's of studies shown to be quite mesaruble and true. But phone psyscics all full of bolshit.

      Delete
    2. Nope. Palm readers are full of shit too. Old doesn't mean good. There are no well run studies that would ever show them to be good, because palm reading is bullshit. If there was a study, you would have been able to mention one after all, instead of just claiming they exist.

      Delete
  18. Well this one's a human spambot, which is also a pretty good metaphor for the way these crooks work.

    ReplyDelete
  19. OK - anymore spam will be deleted, the rest can stay so it doesn't look entirely like we're talking to ourselves, I wasn't sure from the first post if it was spam or not. Now we know.

    I'm not sure why there seem to be so many drive bys either though!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Psychic readings should be uplifting and empowering. Psychic readings should leave you with the feeling that you have more options, insight and peace of mind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are a liar. If any of this was true, it would completely change the world. Look up the word: "delusional" and stop wasting everyones time

      Delete
  21. Psychics aren't real, try reading the post before trying to advertise your fraudulent activities here.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Yes when evidence enters the discussion dodging is prevalent with the pseudosciencers... Especially the anecdotes. I was arguing why I thought psychics were a load of crap and i got the: psychics have been used to find missing people haha. So i ask for evidence obviously and don't get any. So i ask my friend why didn't anyone just ask a psychic where bin Laden was, it would have been a lot quicker and she replies: because of people like you.

    It's just very frustrating how people believe such malarky and believe that you are actually the problem

    ReplyDelete
  23. hi. what do you think of astrology? is that not based on some scientific truth? I'm not trying to be a smartass...I'm genuinely curious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks to my shitty HTC One S being out for repairs I can't access my Google account at the moment, but rest assured this is me.

      Anonymous, if you wish to continue to comment please choose a name to post under. I will delete any more anonymous comments from you.

      As to your question:

      I think astrology is a mountain sized steaming pile of bull shit. It is not based in anything other than nonsense and superstition. It is not - in any way, shape or form - scientific. And there is no such thing as scientific truth either while we're at it. Truth is for fiction writers and philosophers.

      Delete
    2. Ahh, I do agree. Superstitions about the stars telling our futures and all that nonsense. Science has everything to do with visability, studies, and finding proof. I have always had a mad passion for most forms of science. Such proof claiming that meteors contained amino acids (one of the building blocks of life) came crashing together, forming earth. I do believe that's how humans formed but Astrology, until proven wrong, is a load of horseshit. Anyone who follows that is just a fanatic, has more of a passion for it by itself and not the fact that it's real or not.

      Thank you,

      -Logan Beaver (Sorry, I don't have a google account or whatever.)

      Delete
  24. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. It shouldn't matter if someone thinks a psychic is real or not because let's face it there is no way to really prove that they are real. Arguing about whether or not a psychic is real is as pointless as atheists and religious people arguing about whether or not god is real. Both topics have been argued over for a long time. So keep your opinions to yourself. Grow up and don't judge someone who doesn't believe what you believe. And those of you trying to prove that psychics are real just give up. It doesn't matter what you say. They are still going to believe that psychics are fake.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes everyone is entitled to their opinions. You miss the parts about not everyone has to agree with those opinions, not every opinion is an informed opinion and having an opinion doesn't make it as right as the next one or the one before. In some opinions the colour of your skin can make you inferior - should we leave it at that?

      No - because opinions cause real world harm.

      It shouldn't matter if someone thinks a psychic is real or not because let's face it there is no way to really prove that they are real.

      This is nonsense. Psychics aren't real, but people who claim they are charge money, give bad advice, tell people their loved ones are alive when they aren't, or dead when they aren't. Psychics waste police time, they give false hope, they claim to heal people who then give up medical treatment.

      Of course it matters. It matters to anyone who has a jot of integrity and empathy. It matters to anyone who believes in honesty. It matters to anyone who actually cares.

      It doesn't matter to you though. Huh.

      You can prove if a psychic is real. If they claim they can do something you design a test to rule out anything other than their powers and test their claim - if they pass, they're real. If they don't they're not. Easy.

      Here's another good sign that psychics aren't real - does the military use them? And yet we know they've tested those who claim psychic powers don't we? Does government use them to spy instead of massively expensive technological programs and human networks? Huh.

      Arguing about whether or not a psychic is real is as pointless as atheists and religious people arguing about whether or not god is real.

      Right. Arguing about something that has such a profound impact on everybodies lives is "pointless". People like you cause me to despair for the human race, you are holding us back - for you the status quo is just fine, ignorance is a state of bliss. You are the sort of person who said "You'll never find the cause of smallpox. You'll never eradicate smallpox."

      You are holding us all back because you just don't care.

      So keep your opinions to yourself.

      Who died and made you emperor of who can say what and where? Here's my answer to that order - fuck you. How smug, self satisfied and arrogant do you have to be to think you can tell people to keep their opinion to themself? How hypocritical do you have to be to say "Everyone is entitled to an opinion." And then a few words later "Keep your opinion to yourself."?

      Hypocrite, thy name is Ang.

      And those of you trying to prove that psychics are real just give up. It doesn't matter what you say. They are still going to believe that psychics are fake.

      I am still not going to believe because there is no evidence that they are real. If there was such evidence I would be overjoyed at the possibilities this presents for the human race. I believe that psychics are not real because there is no evidence that they are - when someone presents that evidence (reliable and replicated) I will be on here talking about how cool it is and how wrong I was. However - there is no evidence that anyone who has ever claimed now or in the past that they are psychic is actually so, hence I feel it safe to say they are not.

      You would have understood all of this if you had bothered to read AND understand what I wrote in this blogpost. Clearly therefore you didn't.

      So take your opinion and fuck off.

      Delete
  25. Full of Shit..my mother lost her husband (my dad),12 months ago, she is after readings all the time..this only does more harm than excepting reality that he's gone..false hope they provide, they are fucken assholes with dollar signs inside their crystal balls..should be outlawed! Mike.

    ReplyDelete