Thursday, 17 April 2008

I predict...troubled times for 'psychics'

Some good news this week, unless you're pimping your 'psychic powers' for which case it's bad news I'm afraid.

As reported here by the BBC, the Fraudulent Mediums Act is being repealed and replaced with stricter EU consumer protection regulations.

At present, it's up to the individual who paid for the psychic's services to prove that the medium or healer had intended to be fraudulent.

Of course, this will almost always be very difficult to do, as however fraudulent the medium may be, if they insist they really believe that the advice they gave came from "the other world" (or whatever supernatural source they dream up), it is very hard to show otherwise - how can you prove that they don't believe what they say they believe,unless they do something silly like writing down in their diary that "all this spirit stuff is nonsense, I can't believe I'm getting paid to make it up, muahahahaha"?

But, fortunately, this is going to change from the 26th May (don't forget International Starwars Day is coming up in May too.... May The Fourth Be With You !).

From then on, it becomes the medium's responsibility to prove they did not mislead or coerce vulnerable consumers.

A lof of mediums and psychics are up in arms about this change, as it may make them more vulnerable to prosecution. What amuses me is that they are only up in arms about it now....did they not see it coming? ;-)

According to the BBC report, the Spiritual Works Association states that making mediums subject to these consumer protection regulations is a failure to recognise spiritualism is a religion (which in the distinctly commercial sense they practice is, it isn't).

The BBC quotes the founder of the Spiritual Works Association, Carole McEntee-Taylor, as saying "the problem is that it's turning spiritualism the religion into a consumer product, which it is not".

Surely she can't be blind to the absurdity of this statement?
It is not subjecting mediums to consumer protection laws that "turns spiritualism into a consumer product"...the reason it is being subjected to consumer protection laws in the first place is that it is being sold as a product to consumers.

It is the mediums themselves, by selling access to their supposed powers to consumers, that have turned spiritualism into a consumer product.

At present, anyone can set themselves up as a medium and charge money for their predictions, without having a shred of evidence that their abilities are genuine. Even after the forthcoming change in the law, they will still be able to do this, but they'll be much more accountable, which is at least a step in the right direction.

Susie Collings, of the College of Psychic Studies (not to be confused with Hogwarts - the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry), welcomed the changes as they would help root out "less than ethical" practioners, but also said "there is always the possibility that mediums will be targeted by people intent on making money by suing what they see as easy targets and that is a big concern for the individual."

There's a very good reason why people might see them as easy targets of course, that reason being that there's no evidence to support the notion of spirits existing.

If a psychic or medium genuinely does have powers, then they will have nothing to fear - their predictions will be accurate, and they will be able to confidently demonstrate their ability to communicate with spirits to obtain information they could not otherwise know.

If all psychics and mediums had to have their performance measured...if they had to make a number of specific predictions (or obtain specific factual knowledge they could not have obtained by non-supernatural means) for test purposes and have their accuracy listed in their adverts, I suspect most of them would go out of business.

If their powers are genuine, they can help themselves to as much fame or fortune as they wish, and probably an armful of Nobel Prizes and other awards to boot. All they have to do is demonstrate that they can genuinely do things considered impossible within science's current understanding of reality.

There's still $1,000,000 dollars up for grabs from the James Randi Educational Foundation - now that is a genuine fortune, and the fact it has remained unclaimed makes it a very telling fortune for fortune telling and other supernatural claims.

Any psychics out there care to predict the precise date on which they will personally collect this million?


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