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Psychic detectives=predators?


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#16 Bobnoxious

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Posted 11 March 2005 - 02:31 PM

So Sylvia Brown was wrong, NO psychic is ever 100% correct, that is impossible.  As quick is Randi is to jump on Sylvia for this "mistake", I am quite sure he is never going to admit to the readings that were right on.  He just doesn't do things like that.  It doesn't help a skeptic to draw attention to the existence of rightness.  And that there have been right ones, I am sure.  That's why she can charge as much as she does.  Although I'm with Moon about the propriety of charging so much, well, that's between her and god.


When Browne or any other so-called psychic I've seen is "right", it never fails to be because the clues were so vague. The only exceptions to this I've seen are when the psychic in question is really unscrupulous and acquires information surreptitiously. Randi and other skeptics glady admit that psychics are "right" some of the time. Just not with any better degree of accuracy than chance would allow. You make enough guesses, eventually you'll score some hits.

Browne can charge as much money as she does because 1. People want to believe, 2. She uses the same techniques of "cold reading" and pop psychology that have been working for other "psychics" for years, and 3. No doubt she has a good "stage presence" and charisma. Uri Geller used to be able to charge the big bucks, too. Unfortunately for him, he was eventually shown to be a fraud so definitively that he's pretty much a non-entity these days.

I've yet to see a psychic make any flat, definite statement. It's always, "I'm getting the sense of the letter H and I feel darkness all around him. There's water nearby. The number 4 seems significant." These sort of "clues" aren't much help in determining anything beforehand, but can easily be retrofitted after the fact to look like a "hit".

As for water being part of many places where dead bodies are found, aren't rivers and lakes good dumping places for them?  Where are you going to put them?  On a highway or next to a shopping mall?  It makes sense to me.

That was kind of my point, although perhaps I didn't phrase it well. Aside from rivers and lakes being good dumping places, the chances that there will be a puddle, stream, water tower, or some other source of water nearby a murder victim's body when it is found is pretty high. You don't have to be a psychic to pull that one out. You might as well say, "I get the sense the body is near dirt". It would be only slightly less useful.

As as for being disgusted with Sylvia regarding the Cleveland case, we were only shown a portion of what went on in Cleveland I'm sure.  We have no way of knowing what the mother was told.  The police never release all the details to the general public.  This helps them differentiate between the crackpots and somone who might really know something.  I'm sure you know this.  And I know the Montel show was not going to overstep a police investigation.  As for telling the mother that her daughter was dead, well, it's not the psychic's purpose to sugarcoat the truth.  And if this is also j ust a scam, how come the great Randi isn't jumping all over this one?


It's not that anyone thinks the psychic should "sugarcoat the truth". It's that we have good reason to believe that the psychic is simply guessing. It's a sad fact, but most of the time a young girl goes missing, if she isn't found right away chances are she's dead. And near water. Why isn't Randi all over this one? Because Randi, Joe Nickell, Gary Posner and other skeptics have already investigated numerous "psychic deterctive" cases. There's a lot of baloney out there for these guys to check into, so do you honestly expect them to spend the time analyzing each and every case Brown deals with? Once you've checked the facts on a good portion of them and you keep seeing the same pattern time and again, it's time to move on to something else.

Plindbo and Bob, here's the rub:  you're not going to hear about the good psychics who are not interested in the fame or the money.  That's not their MO.


I've got no problem with the "good psychics" you're talking about, if they do indeed exist. The only thing I have to go by are the psychics who choose to be in the public eye, and what I've seen of them has not made a good impression.
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#17 plindboe

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Posted 12 March 2005 - 01:05 AM

So Sylvia Brown was wrong, NO psychic is ever 100% correct, that is impossible.


And that is why it is so irresposible to make such definite statements to the family of an abducted child. Psychics often tell the relatives that the children are alive or dead, but if their gifts are so unstable, they should keep their mouths shut in the first place, especially under such tragic circumstances..


As quick is Randi is to jump on Sylvia for this "mistake", I am quite sure he is never going to admit to the readings that were right on.  He just doesn't do things like that.  It doesn't help a skeptic to draw attention to the existence of rightness.  And that there have been right ones, I am sure.


I think you should try to research and understand what skeptics actually say, since you're basically angry at skeptics for something that skeptics don't say.

I think Bob covered the other points pretty well, so nothing else for me to reply to. :lol:
"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." (Bertrand Russell)

#18 Rockhauler2k1

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Posted 12 March 2005 - 09:46 PM

This is simply a newer breed of of the Spiritual Revolution that took place at the turn of the century . Spiritualism has always been a type of swindle.

I say if these people have such talents then take the police to the killer of some poor child that went missing years ago and never found . Better yet take them to the children alive and well .

Im sick of fakes like John Edwards , Sylvia Brown and so on and bla bla bla. They play on the sympathy of a person who is seeking answers after being greif stricken or not being able to emotionaly cope with the loss of someone. .

James Randi , though I dont exactly buy his brand of approach. Hes a magician folks :rolleyes: . That says alot about who he is and what kind of fakes hes seen . I grant him that but hes also a bit too know it all for me . <_<

I believe , personaly that it is possible for us not to understand everything with which we have contact . There are unexplained phenomenon that do exist . I assert that first hand experience is the best way to come to such an understanding . I also assert that seeking such phenomenon does require some homework . There must be a definite sign of activity and history for the event to unfold . The best would be a residual event . These seem to be more the likely type that Ive come accross in my years.

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#19 Bobnoxious

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Posted 12 March 2005 - 10:09 PM

This is simply a newer breed of of the Spiritual Revolution that took place at the turn of the century . Spiritualism has always been a type of swindle.

Very true. About the only thing today's group of swindlers are missing is the cheesecloth.

James Randi , though I dont exactly buy his brand of approach. Hes a magician folks :rolleyes: . That says alot about who he is and what kind of fakes hes seen . I grant him that but hes also a bit too know it all for me .  <_<


Believe it or not, I agree with you to a point. I have seen some skeptics, Randi among them, make assumptions about a particular event without having all the details. To a degree, I'm sympathetic. After seeing the same kind of fakery over and over again, you start to feel like everything's a fake. I just wish in cases like these both sides could just say, "I saw something strange, and I honestly don't know what it was. If possible, let's investigate it without assumptions." It's very easy for skeptics and believers alike to get so rigid in their worldviews that it can prevent them from doing proper investigations. That said, I think Randi has done a more good than bad, especially with his investigation of another breed of parasite, the Faith Healers.
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#20 Rockhauler2k1

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Posted 12 March 2005 - 10:27 PM

Indeed :angry:

I wont even start on the faith healers.

I'd go off topic and thats not nice lol <_<

Anyone who charges clients for investigation is a swindler and knows no more than the person asking the questions. If activity is real or so called phenomenon of some sort it will occur without any coaxing or voo doo . It just happens randomly and if your in the right place at the right time you will witness it . If you do it will change your opinion or at least your perception greatly.

Rockhauler2k1

I have seen paranormal groups call a place haunted that had no history of death . Places of suffering seem to be the most likely for interaction either visual or audible based on our research ( my wife and I ).
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#21 Bobnoxious

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Posted 13 March 2005 - 01:09 AM

Indeed  :)

I wont even start on the faith healers.

I'd go off topic and thats not nice lol  <_<

You mean any more than we already have? :D Eh, conversations go where they go. Off topic never bothers me on a message board as long as the conversation stays interesting. But the Faith Healers are a pretty cut and dry topic. A few sincere self deluded individuals, a whole ton of scumbags, and (to keep an open mind despite my strong doubts) perhaps a handful of genuine articles.

Anyone who charges clients for investigation is a swindler and knows no more than the person asking the questions. If activity is real or so called phenomenon of some sort it will occur without any coaxing or voo doo . It just happens randomly and if your in the right place at the right time you will witness it . If you do it will change your opinion or at least your perception greatly.


Sounds about right to me. Nothing wrong with getting donations for your work from various sources like generous patrons or whatever, but if you're really interested in learning the truth, making money off that quest shouldn't be your main focus.

I have seen paranormal groups call a place haunted that had no history of death . Places of suffering seem to be the most likely for interaction either visual or audible based on our research ( my wife and I ).



Should be self evident, but I'm sure there are plenty of folks out there who think buying a digital camera and a few books on ghosts makes them experts. Who wants to spend time on boring stuff like researching the background of a location when there's orb pictures to be taken? Although I'm still pretty much a non believer (maybe one of these days I'll have one of those life changing personal experiences, but until then...) I actually love the history and folklore aspects. That's why I don't mind having to drive Camevil all over creation for her website. Even if I never have a paranormal experience, at least I've gotten to learn some history and hear some great stories. Say, weren't we talking about psychic detectives at some point?
"Future events such as these will affect you in the future." - Criswell, 'Plan 9 From Outer Space'

#22 Rockhauler2k1

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Posted 13 March 2005 - 09:25 AM

One of the most interesting is Fort McHenry in Baltimore .

You know,

Francis Scott Key , The Star Spangled banner and so on but only one or two deaths during the entire battle . No activity what so ever after multiple trys with equipment and tons of photos.

Once it gets to the ( is that a guy standing in the doorway with his great grandmother phase its pretty much done for me lol ) <_<

The only other deaths that occured was during the Civil War when Ft McHenry was used as a Jail. Those deaths were even few and varied

Rockhauler2k1

P.S. Homework is da deal . If we dont do it we, Assume and we all know where that goes.
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#23 Camille

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Posted 13 March 2005 - 12:05 PM

I just read in the paper that Sylvia Browne is coming to a convention center here in a few weeks, and my ire has risen once again.

It got me back to thinking about her involvement in the missing child case here in Cleveland. Browne provided only this information on the Montel show regarding the missing girl, Amanda Berry:

Regarding the kidnapper, Browne said, “I think he really had a crush on her. And I think she rebuffed him. I think she thought he was harmless enough to maybe drive her home.”
--Yet, it was already known by the police and Amanda's family that Amanda accepted a ride from someone she knew and trusted. Things must have gone badly, because Amanda never came home.

Browne said she envisioned Amanda's jacket in a dumpster with "DNA on it."
--Wow, that's a shocker. A piece of clothing that has DNA on it. :rolleyes: Furthermore, it is not uncommon for a criminal to dispose of his or her victim's clothing, and other evidence, in the trash.

“I hate when they’re in the water,” Browne said.
--as discussed earlier, there is a very high probability that the bodies of murder victims will be in or near water.

Browne also told Amanda's mother, "Your daughter's not the kind who wouldn't call."
--whose child isn't?

These amazingly vague "facts" were somehow enough to convince Amanda's mother. Sylvia's contributions were not psychic. At best, they were drawn on intuitive references, and conveniently vague enough to ensure a positive "hit."

The mother's grief was heart-wrenching, and it seemed, to me anyway, that Sylvia exploited this family's tragic situation to garner herself more media attention. Her involvement was neither healthy nor helpful.


Rock, I find it surprising that places with NO history of death exist anymore! Even a single, mundane cause of death is enough to elevate a place to haunted status, it seems.
"What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite."Bertrand Russell"You're going to go to McDonald's... you'll order an Egg McMuffin and some coffee... WAIT! They're going to forget your extra salt! Remind them to give you salt, please!!"Ed Closser, Trivial Psychic

#24 plindboe

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 08:10 AM

Yet another example:

    On March 3rd, the Danish National Radio had a half-hour show about police use of psychics. The background was a sad one: A 17-year old boy, Nicholas Povlsen from Svendborg had gone missing after a night of partying. The police strongly suspected that he had fallen in the nearby harbor, but couldn't locate the body.

    A psychic, Tina Malmberg Schmidt from Augustenborg (about 50 km. from Svendborg), who usually deals in angels and Tarot, was contacted by some of Nicholas' very concerned friends. She told them that Nicholas was alive and held captive in a basement in the city. The group of friends started searching, and also contacted the police.

    Incredibly enough, the police contacted the media, and asked people to look for Nicholas in their own basements. Now, occasionally, the police will do this, and people will of course comply, but since this was done by the prodding of a psychic, people started getting upset and scared. Some were upset because they couldn't see the use of this, but still felt obliged to participate in the search, while others believed the psychic and wondered where Nicholas was — and who was keeping him imprisoned. A janitor at a housing complex was even dragged from his bed in the middle of the night by Nicholas' friends, to search through the basement in the complex. Of course, they found nothing, and for good reason.

    Nicholas turned up, as expected, in the harbor, drowned, not held captive in a basement by sinister people.

    In the studio was Danish skeptic and magician Michael Leslie Ahlstrand. He explained what we as skeptics already know: that there is no evidence that clairvoyants have special powers, and that it is questionable that the police even trust what these psychics are saying.

.........

    The psychic was also interviewed, over the phone. She was quite in low — dare I say it? — spirits, even close to tears, but not because she had scared the living daylights out of a whole city, or because she was totally wrong about everything. Oh no, this psychic was on the verge of tears because she also felt the strain. She was just as devastated as anyone else, but she was not to blame in any way, she argued, because she only passed on the messages from the spirit world. Although she would never again participate in such a search again, she had no regrets about her psychic charade whatsoever. She had done nothing wrong, she wailed.

    Tina Malmberg Schmidt did not make a very good impression. She came off as self-serving, callous, and completely out of touch with reality.

    There were also two politicians in the studio, but they merely danced around the issue. Yes, they trusted the judgment of the police. Yes, they could see that this was not all good. No, they wouldn't do anything to prevent this from happening again.

    Even though it was a very good show, it doesn't look as if we will see any legislation barring proclaimed psychics from wasting police resources, and scaring the crap out of the population. But we did get a good look at how psychics behave before and after they are found out as fakes.


From Randi's latest commentary: http://www.randi.org/jr/031105yet.html

No other paranormal field is filled with so many poor excuses like the psychic field is.
"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." (Bertrand Russell)

#25 Camille

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 10:21 PM

Whoa.

It's bad enough that a media-greedy psychic can so easily exploit and manipulate an emotionally distraught family to his or her own ends.

It is twice as deplorable to see such reckless actions also affect the liberties and well-being of innocent third parties.

I often hear complaints about how too much negative attention is given to those one or two "isolated" incidents where a psychic detective was wrong. However, it is not a matter of being 100% right all the time. Nothing we do in life is an exact science. (We'll disregard for a moment that a psychic has NEVER solved a missing person's case)

When a psychic detective takes it upon herself or herself to assume the dual role of criminal investigator and spiritual counselor, they assume a very grave and IMPOSSIBLE responsibility. The devastating results of just one or two wrong calls should be sufficient to demonstrate that psychics have no business involving themselves in criminal investigations.
"What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite."Bertrand Russell"You're going to go to McDonald's... you'll order an Egg McMuffin and some coffee... WAIT! They're going to forget your extra salt! Remind them to give you salt, please!!"Ed Closser, Trivial Psychic

#26 kismitj

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Posted 19 March 2005 - 06:30 PM

don't even get me started on sylvia..grr...

at one point in my work history it was my job duty to "test" out people who came into the shop i worked at who wanted to be an instore psychic. out of the dozens who came in i only approved two. the rest were of the fishing variety. and one just flat out had a script. any woman who came in was molested as a child and had supressed it and could only be "healed" through repeat sessions. i nearly kicked that person out the door yelling at them. the two i approved never asked for money, and were uncomfortable when they were paid in cash. both were wonderful ladies. but in the end there was the inevitable conflict between the boss and them. hard to get rent for space when the tenant takes food in exchange for services lol

but back on topic. during the time i worked there there was an abduction/homicide and the police actually unstarched themselves enough to ask one of the local 'psychic counselors' to help. she flat told them they couldnt afford her.

eventually the poor girl was found. i just wish those who profit from others as that woman did would just give up and go flip burgers somewher. the world would be better for it

#27 ApparitionSeeker

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Posted 20 March 2005 - 02:49 AM

Wow, I can't say that all psychics are like Madame Browne, or start like that, but it does seem that $$$$$$$ changes alot. :)

#28 Camille

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Posted 23 April 2005 - 11:37 AM

An update regarding Sylvia Browne and the missing Cleveland girl, Amanda Berry:

The girl's mother has changed her mind, and no longer accepts Browne's version of what happened to her child. "I can't accept that because I don't have any proof," she said.

The full newspaper article can be found here:

http://www.cleveland...48667275151.xml

What a sad, horrible situation.
"What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite."Bertrand Russell"You're going to go to McDonald's... you'll order an Egg McMuffin and some coffee... WAIT! They're going to forget your extra salt! Remind them to give you salt, please!!"Ed Closser, Trivial Psychic

#29 petunia4998

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Posted 23 April 2005 - 02:15 PM

Camille, why are you following this so closely and what's with the inability to let it go? It's kind of spooky because it smacks of either a personal venedetta or a witch-burning foray.

Only a fool believes in absolutes and you strike me as anything but a fool.

This woman needed to hear what she was told and to experience what she experienced. It is not for you or anybody to judge or to try to figure out why. That's between her and god.

Sylvia Brown can charge that much because she's doing something right.
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#30 Camille

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Posted 23 April 2005 - 04:32 PM

I'm obsessive? I have an inability to let go?

Oh dear.

I hope it's not serious. :o I have an important dinner engagement tomorrow and don't want to miss it.


:P

Kidding aside, Petunia, some might say that your astute psychological diagnosis might also apply to the people who have plunked down a lot of money to witness Ms. Browne's *amazing* feats. Or the desperate family members who have sought out her remarkable crime investigation skills. Or do you believe that it is healthy so long as they believe in her and pay her money? :huh:
"What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite."Bertrand Russell"You're going to go to McDonald's... you'll order an Egg McMuffin and some coffee... WAIT! They're going to forget your extra salt! Remind them to give you salt, please!!"Ed Closser, Trivial Psychic




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