Add Homonym Attacks #4

Add Homonym Attacks! #4

Ad Hominem: Appealing to personal considerations rather than to logic or reason.
Ad Hominem Attack: An argument that focuses on a personal attack as opposed to the subject in question.
Add Homonym Attacks!: The process by which one inserts a homophone and it bites you.
(It also serves as the title to Inside Pulse’s representative column in the world of Critical Thinking, Science and Skepticism.)

Intro:
First a disclaimer:

The following opinions are ML Kennedy’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of InsidePulse, it’s owner or staff. ML Kennedy’s views do, however, represent the point of view of most sane, rational, thinking creatures. This column is not meant to be taken internally. It may result in vertigo, enuresis, chronic noctambulism, and triskaidekaphobia. If these symptoms persist, discontinue use of rational thought, and consult a physician.

Now that we have that thing out of the way…

All psychics are crap. Not one psychic has ever been able to prove his or her powers scientifically. There is no reasonable evidence to prove the existence of ESP. Psychics have nothing to offer anybody. They are flim-flam artists, con men, professional guessers and liars, bullshitters and scammers.

Psychics

If you can’t tell, I hate psychics. I hate psychics. I hate their cheap tricks and spotlight grabbing. I hate the credibility afforded them by the media. I hate that in nearly every movie and TV show I watch every psychic seems to have “real powers.” The psychic powers on “That’s So Raven” and “Saved by the Bell” (or what have you) are mild nuisances. Shows like “Medium” on the other hand, that are BASED ON TRUE STORIES are so freaking obnoxiously infuriatingly ARGHHHHH!!!!! PSYCHIC POWERS AREN’T REAL!

Where was I? Oh yes, psychics. You know Nancy Reagan frequently consulted an astrologer? She set up schedules for the President with the help of אסטרולוגיה readings. This makes me want to kick kittens.

But there is something to psychic powers and astrology right? Well… if by something you mean deception and trickery….

Gene Emery of CSICOP (the Committee for Scientific Investigations of Claims Of the Paranormal) has been tracking these bastards for years. He compiled a list of some of the predictions made by the “best” psychics about what would happen in the year 2004. Ah 2004, do you remember when…
… Colin Powell changed parties and trounced Bush in the Election?
… Rosie O’Donnell adopted siamese twin girls?
… Osama died of kidney disease?
… the Hoover Dam collapsed?
… nukes accidently went of in North Korea and killed thousands?
… Saddam was shot to death?
… a live dinosaur was captured?
… giant animal bones were discovered on Mars?

Wait, none of those things happened? But psychics predicted all of those things would happen in 2004? It’s almost like those psychics were completely full of shit… huh.

In 1970 the late Jeane Dixon predicted an event that might “well become known as one of the worst disasters of the 20th century.” What major event did she predict? A comet striking the Earth somewhere during the 1980s. She knew where it was supposed to hit, but kept that part a secret. She also predicted the first female U.S. President to be elected in that same decade.

Now, go ahead and accuse me of cherry-picking only the negative data. Some psychics are real right? Like those bastard psychics that always win the lottery, and those brave psychics that prevented catastrophe on 9/11, and saved lives during the Tsunami. Oh wait, none of that happened.

But at least psychics were able to provide advance warning to the people of New Orleans. They told people to evacuate before Katrina hit. No wait, that was science and technology that predicted the path and power of the hurricane.

Huh. I wonder why the “real psychics” weren’t interested in preventing disaster.

Especially in New Orleans which is like spooky Capital USA.

Was Sylvia too busy showing up on Montel Williams and charging people a fortune for her hotline?

Did none of John Edwards dead friends know about this thing? Probably not. After all, they always seem to have trouble remembering their full names.

“I remember my name started with an R. And something about a blonde.”

What is it about the afterlife that makes people so forgetful? Is there really good weed there? They didn’t even help Edwards prevent his show being cancelled.

Of course, Edwards and his sort don’t actually talk to dead people. They merely take advantage of the grief-stricken for fame and profit. They tend to rely on 3 different carnival methods: cold reading, warm reading, and hot reading.

Cold Reading
This is when you get your subjects to do your work for you. In front of a group of people, you announce, “I see a J name.” Somebody will usually pipe up and say something like, “My husband’s name was Jared! He was a carpenter. He died three years ago!” And it might work like this.

“You husband Jared is asking me about the table!”

“Oh my gosh yes! My husband was working on a table three months before he died!”

“Your husband was a carpenter?”

“How did you know?”

Then we have:

Warm Reading
This method is more about the use of statistics and common psychology. The psychic might say something like:
“You keep a sort of shrine to your dead child somewhere in your house”
or
“You have something that reminds you of your loved one near your bed.”

Or it might be something more subtle. Say, the psychic sees a picture of the deceased, and notices that it is a large, elderly, Native American. He can make a realistic guess and ask something like, “This person, they had diabetes?” If the person was diabetic, it is a hit. It’s not even seen a question, but a statement of fact. He knew about the diabetes!

If the person wasn’t diabetic, it is merely a question that can be moved towards another hit, and subsequently ignored.

“No, no diabetes.”

“Oh, because I am seeing a fondness for sweets… And there is something that is causing a restriction there. Something that is holding back.”

“Well, his doctor told him he needed to eat better! How did you know that?!”

Finally we have:

Hot Reading

This is my favorite type because it’s just cheating. Sometimes psychics have plants, shills, co-conspirators, etc.

They can do a reading of the shills directly to get AMAZING RESULTS.

They can also have these people wait in line at the event and chat people up in order to farm information for them. “Mary’s husband in seat 3b died of prostate cancer.”

Traditionally this is a technique preferred by Faith Healers. They could get away with it really easily back in the old days. Before the service they would mingle with the crowd and sign a few bibles. Now back in the day, people used their bibles to record important events such as births deaths and weddings. They just take a good look and a few mental notes. But when Peter Popoff signs your copy of the good book, you don’t think about that thing. Instead, you are just amazed that he knows your brother’s full name!

Hot reading can burn psychics (no pun intended), so many don’t use it. Burn them how? Well, skeptics like me like to feed the shills false information. Then we wait for that false information to show up during a reading.

Then we smile.

Prove me wrong and get RICH
James Randi has $1,000,000 for anybody who can pass a valid test of his/her psychic powers. He has offered a cash prize for many years now.

I think the money is safe.

“Psychic Detectives”

This about sums up my feelings


Contrary to some statements, the LAPD has not employed psychics in criminal investigations. The same situation appears to be true for most police departments contacted. In several well-publicized major cases where individuals who claimed psychic powers volunteered information to the department about the crime, the information has not proven useful to the investigation.
The study also concluded, “Since the psychic group produced approximately 10 times as much information as either of the two comparison groups, it is more likely by chance alone that their data would produce more “hits.” Despite this statistical advantage, the psychics were unable to produce information that was significantly better than the two comparison groups. It is important to note that no information that would have been investigatively useful, such as first and last names, license plate numbers, apartment house locations, etc., was accurately produced by any of the subjects. Statistically, the data fit a pattern that could be expected by chance.” Another part of Dr. Reiser’s experiments involved weapons that were used in homicide cases. These were mixed in with other weapons that were not used in crimes to be used as controls, and it was found that the “psychics were unable to tell the difference, go figure.

Conclusions

All psychics are frauds. Some are such good liars that they have convinced themselves that they have real powers. Anybody who would like to prove me wrong is welcome to try for the JREF’s 1,000,000 dollar prize.

If you don’t want to win money, you can always try to convince me otherwise by telling me why I missed my Junior High’s end of the year awards assembly.