Anti-Science

An Evening with Syl

A few weeks ago, Sylvia Browne came to Boston. I didn’t realize it until the day before, when my friends and I were chatting about her and one of them happened to take a look at her tour schedule online. The seats ranged from $35 to $75 depending on where in the convention hall you wanted to sit. Surprisingly, the seats that were closer to her freakish clown face were the more expensive ones. They were all sold out — possibly by the masochistic and blind — leaving only the $35 back-of-the-house seats, which the web site said would be available one hour before showtime at will call.

Of course I had to go. I had to do . . . something. There was no time to organize an effective protest of any sort, so instead I adopted the opposite tactic of going undercover. Again.

Before you get excited, there were no big confrontations. I was unable to get close enough to her to throw a pie, and had I the opportunity, I may have chosen to eat the pie instead since I didn’t have any dinner. Plus of course the pie would have only improved her horrific countenance and provided her with more fuel to continue her growth cycle.

I showed up and walked to the door of the convention hall. A security guard was standing just outside, so I asked him where I could buy will call tickets. He pointed inside and said I should go to the back of the room where the book table was. I walked in and saw the stage to my left and rows upon rows of chairs, split up into three sections by wristband color – purple, green, or blue. To my right, the book table was doing big business, surrounded by people wheeling and dealing. There were no ticket sales to be seen. I sat down in a middle section.

I had come straight from work, and it’s a lucky thing that my work outfit that day consisted of a long-sleeved hoodie, under which I had a recording device strapped to my wrist with duct tape. Sometimes I like to dress like that. It’s my thing.

I looked around but was unable to find any non-disclosure agreements. I did find a big box of white wrist bands with spiritually encouraging words written on them, available for a suggested donation of $1. I took that suggestion into account while I snapped a few up.

The show began with cold reader “psychic barber” Gordon Smith warming up the crowd with a big steaming plate of bullshit. He moved through the crowd doing standard cold reading junk, some of it more despicable than the usual. Then Sylvia came out and did a “lecture,” which was like an hour of ramblings from your demented aunt your mother makes you go see once every other month. I was half expecting her to offer us hard candies.

Then she led the crowd through a collective meditation. They played new age music while Sylvia talked in a soothing manner . . . well, as soothing a manner as she can get I guess. Imagine being sung to sleep by a mutant bullfrog. Then the bullfrog bites you on the eyeball. It was like that, only much, much worse.

After we all woke up refreshed from our journey into our inner consciousness, Sylvia called wristband numbers to choose who got to ask a single question of her. At this point, I was very sad that I had no wristband. She actually chose a lot of numbers, so my chances of getting a hold of the microphone would’ve been pretty good. At one point I got up and walked over to the line forming behind the mic, hoping to blend in. That’s when I saw a woman making her way down the row to check bands, so I slipped back out.

On a purely professional level, I must admit that this tactic was brilliant. It’s like cold reading, but the other person doesn’t even get a moment to respond. For those who aren’t familiar, cold reading is a method that magicians and “psychics” use to throw out names or ideas at a person and judge his reaction. It’s why psychics always start out a bit general (“I’m getting a ‘J'”) and then work their way in to the specifics they pick up off their subjects. In this case, though, Sylvia can say anything and get away with it by just moving on to the next person. At one point she told a man to eat less carbs. When he objected and said he didn’t eat carbs, she laughed and told him to stop lying to her, she’s psychic. The audience laughed and applauded and the next person began asking her question. There were even two different microphones, one on either side of the stage, to facilitate this. Brilliant.

My friend Robert Lancaster recently launched a site called Stop Sylvia Browne. I told him about my experience the day after it happened, and I let him know I’d give him a transcript of the three-hour show. It has been more than a month, and I have not done this. It’s not just that I’ve been busy. It’s not just that it’s difficult to type all that out. It’s that listening to that soul sucking harpy spew her garbage at one person after another, one poor, deluded and fragile victim after another, is just way too much for me sometimes.

I’m going to try to do a bit at a time, which I’ll post for your horror.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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112 Comments

  1. Well I think when Mr. Brown dies (yes the Mr. is deliberate) we should simply hold large seances and have her disembodied spirit tell horrible horrible lies about her. I know this wont do anything to her directly as she will already be worm food, but being able to say to a large group of true beleivers "Sylvia says she enjoyed eating three tons of cookies infront of starving orphans." would just… well it would be jsut swell.

  2. Yeah. Rebecca, I have no idea how you could sit through it so (relatively) peaceably! Especially on an empty stomach, although that choice might have saved you the trouble of getting violently ill from suffering through her BS for so long.

    Where was she in Boston, and did any companies sponsor her being there? I want to know who to boycott :-P

  3. Hello Rebbecca

    On a purely professional level,one doesn't sneak around in hoodies

    and tape recorders strapped to their body,unless there intentionally

    out to deceive you.Someone taking the necessary measure,to "avoid the noid" and its' subterfuge,maybe did have foresight to expect your arrival??

    Seriously though,cold reading is not

    "to throw out names or ideas at a person and judge his reaction"

    This is false,and is not how a psychic would define it.If your going to

    use the lingo,please know the words..A cold reading is how a psychic

    get HOTT!!

    When you turn on the TV for a sec,your caps charge and current rushes

    through various components,before you get a picture.When you turn

    on your PC,your computer is also cold booting,before you can use it

    to work properly.Same thing!

    A Psychic must tune into or warm-up before he/she can

    effectively function this is not a trick,or scam it is simple a

    process for tapping-in…Nothing like you suggested!

    I hope next time you have suspicions with a psychic,please

    openly and honestly address it,I'm sure they'll appreciate the

    true you! Take care my friend M.Dmon

  4. Expatria: She was at Hynes Convention Center, and just about filled up an auditorium. I look forward to her next show in the area, as I plan to be a bit more prepared.

    Mikal: Thanks for the post. I understood . . . most of it. I'll respond with a more detailed post soon, better explaining cold reading for you and anyone else out there who doesn't quite understand what it's all about.

  5. Mikal – cold reading isn't how psychics warm up. Cold reading, or dishonesty, or delusion, is how psychics work. Psychics, or people claiming to be psychics, have been studied since the late 19th Century and thus far nothing has arisen to suggest there is anything to psychic powers. It's not like it hasn't been given a chance to prove itself. In all circumstances, under analysis, psychics have shown to be practitioners of cold reading, whether they're aware of it or not. Some are genuinely wrong in their beliefs (they're not knowingly ripping people off). They just don't realise that their natural talent for cold reading and a good imagination doesn't make them a psychic.

    Rebecca, I feel for you. I look forward to the follow ups.

  6. Don't bother,I understand cold reading and its uses

    my post was to provide an objective interpretation for the

    other reader and yourself of course,who many only hear on

    side of the spectrum..

    We already know what the critic thinks,just thought I would

    weigh in with a complete thought..Is that fair?

    Take care my friend M.Dmon

    PS did you happen to record the meditation,and music

    I tend to find those things soothing and would also support

    your story,and provide a clam environment to your readers..

  7. You asserted "Seriously though,cold reading is not

    “to throw out names or ideas at a person and judge his reaction”

    This is false,and is not how a psychic would define it.If your going to

    use the lingo,please know the words..A cold reading is how a psychic

    get HOTT!!"

    I think we responded appropriately and politely.

  8. She was at the Hynes, and nearly filled a room? At THOSE prices…sheesh! There are certainly a LOT more credulous people in old New England than I thought!!

    Oh, how I begin to regret having no real science background! If I did, my first step upon returning to the US would be heading to SUNY Buffalo for the masters degree that CFI co-sponsors (Science and the Public). We've gotta do SOMETHING to try to stop people from lining that woman's pocketbook any further!

  9. I like that show,how they solve crimes or missing people

    Only saw it a few times,busy and all..

    If I ever turn up missing,I hope no stone goes unturned even

    if I;m saved by a psychic,I wont mind..

    What say you?

    If a Psychic saved your life,would you still call them a liar?

  10. Hello again Rebeca,I hope I'm not to be a bother,

    but I can't for the life of me,verify any Boston siting

    of Sylvia Brown.Where did you say she attended?

    Also I was wondering,if your annoyed with transcription,

    did you save any audio from your investigation?If it's not

    a hassle could you post some for us?

    Although you didn't spend the dollar,that would've giving you

    the opportunity to ask Sylvia,your burning questions,if that dollar

    wind's up going to our US boys in Iraq,how would you than feel,

    knowing;while your plotting against your neighbor,you could've

    did something to contribute?I've heard that sometimes Psychic do

    that.I know the last ones a what if,but what if?

    Take care M.Dmon

  11. Mikal,

    I'm going to go out on a limb here and assert that there are no credible instances of a psychic EVER saving anyone. I certainly haven't researched this, but I'm willing to bet money I'm right.

    $20 says you can't come up with a credible example of this. You willing?

    If not, I reject your hypothetical question as being unworthy of an answer.

    No offense intended.

  12. You're a mean little bugger arn't you Mikal.

    I mean there's comical jesting and theres just being an ass.

    Strangly this is something disscused early in the week (though reversed)… I guess that might mean rebecca is a news story psychic… its about as crediblas all the other evidence one might present.

  13. "Hello again Rebeca,I hope I’m not to be a bother,

    but I can’t for the life of me,verify any Boston siting

    of Sylvia Brown.Where did you say she attended?"

    She already said it was the Hynes in Boston.

    Using those terms and Sylvia Browne, it turns up on the first google entry.

    Otara

  14. That's funny I don't remember calling anyone names,

    so I assume it's the critical thinker way,to stoops so low

    http://www.mccahome.com/events.html
    Yeah I look at their website and still can't seem to verify Sylvia's

    appearance,this doesn't make me a bugger,just curious

    As for SteveT,I wasn't really talking to you so I don't care

    what you reject,your irrelevant to the hypothetical

    My hypothetical is based on the information and Topic

    Psychic Detectives-which I didn't invents,so don't give me a hard time

    anyone who watches can surely recite a few episodes where their are

    psychic saving lives,so I guess that makes you uninformed Steve,why an

    I not surprised

    Take care M.Dmon

    PS I dodn't ask for a fight,just answer the question

  15. I don't quite understand what M.Dmon is saying in some of those posts (and where did JackPT yell?), but anyway:

    I did a cold reading recently (palm reading) with a couple of friends who don't know me well enough to know that I think it's all charlatanship. Doing the second reading was eye-opening, the subject (victim? participant? volunteer?) was very good at giving feedback through facial expression and even just talking about things. It also helped that I didn't know her that well either so it seemed even more amazing when I was judging her personality. By the end I was amazed at how well it had gone, and can now easily see why people who do this more than a few times could genuinely believe that they have some psychic gift.

    With people like Sylvia I doubt she actually believes what she says, but I daresay more people than I previously thought are just as fooled as the people they read.

  16. Regarding psychic detectives:

    I'd like to point out that the show Joshua mentioned ("Psych"), which started this topic, is A) FICTIONAL and B) about someone who PRETENDS to be a psychic, using good old-fashioned detective work to solve crimes and using cold-reading to pass it off as psychic visions.

    As for the show "Psychic Detectives", which documents supposedly real instances of psychics aiding the police, well, that's all a load of crap too. Almost every detective who has worked with a psychic on a case will tell you that they gave impossibly vague details that didn't even lead to the finding of the body/capture of the killer/locating of the kidnapping victim/etc. Instead, the cops follow real leads to solve the crimes, and because the "predictions" were so vague, they tend to fit the situation. Especially since people tend to look for these connections and put effort into making the details fit, even if they really don't.

    For instance, in almost every case I've heard of this being done, the 'psychic' will say "the body will be found near water". Good guess, since water is everywhere and dumping bodies in water is pretty common. I've seen people extrapolate this prediction to include a body found near a hot water heater as a correct prediction.

    Any detective worth his salt will A) never work with a psychic or B) never again work with a psychic after seeing how much time they waste and how little they help.

    The rest go on "Psychic Detectives" for their 15 minutes of fame.

  17. Mikal:

    I'm not having a go at you, or yelling, nor do I have anything against you personally. I just don't think that your views on psychics or cold readings are correct. I am sure, if you take time to research the arguments against psychics, that you are capable of changing your mind. There is no shame in changing your mind.

    Go an buy the book called Flim Flam by James Randi and read it. You'll enjoy it.

    Has anyone else got any book recommendations for Mikal?

  18. Yeah, most skeptics are not exactly unfamiliar with psychics and the anecdotal claims for their successes.

    For example, Bronze Dog has made notes of Sylvia Browne's appearances on Montel and remarked on the cold reading techniques she uses regularly. I could have sworn he did something similar with John Edwards, but I can't find that now. Rebecca's notes, when they're up, will be a fascinating read as well.

    Here are two instances of Bronze Dog's Sylvia Browne notes:
    http://rockstarramblings.blogspot.com/2006/09/undhttp://rockstarramblings.blogspot.com/2006/10/und

  19. "Yeah I look at their website and still can’t seem to verify Sylvia’s

    appearance,this doesn’t make me a bugger,just curious"

    Again – Hynes, Boston, Sylvia Browne.

    First result I get is http://boston.heyletsgo.com/venue-2221

    Which has the session if you read down.

    http://boston.heyletsgo.com/event-81347

    The only problem here is that most sites dont show the dates for old performances, they get deleted as they occur.

    Otara

  20. kellbelle1020 wrote:

    "For instance, in almost every case I’ve heard of this being done, the ‘psychic’ will say “the body will be found near water”. Good guess, since water is everywhere and dumping bodies in water is pretty common. I’ve seen people extrapolate this prediction to include a body found near a hot water heater as a correct prediction."

    For a perfect example of how that can backfire in a most embarrasing way, check out this clip …

  21. Cold reading does have uses outside the psychic industry, although these are not well-documented. It can also be used in everyday life for ethical purposes. It has uses in sales and business, especially if your job involves negotiation. In short, if you ever want or need to influence how someone else perceives you, then cold reading is the most powerful technique at your disposal .http://www.ianrowland.com/ItemsToBuy/ColdReading/ColdReadingWhatIs.html

    So as I was saying,

    Cold reading isn't trick or scam it's a "powerful technique" used by many professional including layers,psychiatrist,policeman and government agents,just to name a few.Although the names and techniques may vary,profiling is a popular measure of generalizing a persons character in

    a very short amount of time,yet gain much insight into the persons psyche.

    This is a skill,not a trick and I believe your skeptic dictionary agrees with me

    What irritates me most is;the psychic willing admit this,but you still wont give the credit for being honest.Damn if you do,damn if you don't

    Take care M.Dmon

  22. Hello Otara

    I admit,I'm a little dumb,but not stupid.

    Your bottom link http://boston.heyletsgo.com/event-81347
    brings me to a goggle engine but launches some info on a California

    event,not the Boston one I was looking for.I did search as I said,but can't verify anything.Fear not my friend I will call tomorrow to do my own fact checking,I should be better at this I know,I apologies for not being adequate

    enough to keep-up with your awesome research

    So far even with your help I'm not finding this information

    Again,sorry.. Take care my friend M.Dmon

  23. Uh?

    For me that link you've quoted goes to a site saying

    "An Evening With Sylvia Browne (Expired)

    Thu. Sep 14 2006 (Times vary) at Hynes Convention Center

    The Hynes adress is given further below:

    "Hynes Convention Center

    900 Boylston St

    Boston, MA 02115 (Map)

    (508) 935-4129"

    The original link lists it as one of the events that have previously run at the centre. ie

    Hynes Convention Center

    900 Boylston St Boston, MA 02115 (Map)

    (508) 935-4129

    Past Events:

    -snip various events–

    09/14/2006 An Evening With Sylvia Browne

    if you're really worried I guess you could ring the Hynes and ask if they had Sylvia Browne there on the 14th Sep, the contact details are on that site, as listed above.

  24. Mikal Dmon,

    Cold reading in and of itself is not a scam or a trick. It's just when someone uses it for false psychic purposes and misleads someone into believing that they've made contact with a dead relative when, really, they have not.

    Reading other people is an essential skill for socialization. People who cannot do so at all (eg. some autism-spectrum patients) have a hard time functioning in society. There is nothing wrong with the technique at all.

    The only trouble WE have with it is when it is misapplied and used to take advantage of other people (especially at such ridiculous prices as many psychics charge). Whether those psychics then donate the money to charity is none of my concern. If their customer wanted to donate the money, they could have. Instead they were duped into paying money for a service falsely rendered.

    I know you're not likely to take my word for it, but I had to post anyways. Cheers!

  25. Mikal,

    Psychics do NOT claim to only engage in cold reading (or occasionally hot reading). They claim they speak with the spirits of your dead relatives.

    The fact many shows featuring psychics may have a small disclaimer somewhere saying "this is only entertainment, ot the real deal, etc…) seems to escape most people going to or watching those shows.

    And when asked directly, most psychics will insist that they are the real deal. They will not mention cold reading, they will not explain at all what they are doing. Only when they get caught, or have a particularly bad night making people believe they're really psychic will they sometimes claim to be cold reading, but only as an excuse for "not always having their psychic powers working perfectly".

    They're leeches preying on the berieved and the mourning. It's despicable. And some of them aren't even that good. They just make a lot more money as "psychics" than they ever could have as stage magicians performing exactly the same "tricks" (see, when you're doing one thing when pretending to do something else, it's called a trick, even if we can explain the "trick", it's still a "trick", because they're "tricking" people).

  26. Actually I agree!

    Yet consider this skill as an introduction or warm-up process

    that someone might use to accurately assimilate information about

    the client,to help them receive or be better received

    I say tomato,you say tamotto

    everyone's entitled to their opinion however you and I both know

    this "crap" is currently used today,to help keep people from blowing

    us up.Is it a skill,or useless Crap,Come on!

    Where's the consistency in that?

    Either it's a useful skill,or it's crap.Choose one,but

    don't discriminate because I see potential,but other do not..

    On a litter note I did write Sylvia asking her to tone-down

    on prices and accretions,maybe she'll listen..

    Take care my friend M.Dmon

  27. I don't think cold reading is a usefull skill, apart from everyday interpersonal interactions.

    But when we're engaging in interpersonal interactions with people at work, on the bus, at dinner, etc… we're not using our cold reading skills to talk (or pretend to talk) to their long lost grandparents, we're using these skills to determine if the person we're talking to is interested in what we're saying, if our words are upsetting them, and so on.

    I think your suggestion that cold reading is keeping people from blowing each other up is nonsense. People will find a reason to blow each other up regardless. The fact that you're pretending to be in contact with their deceased relatives will not deter them in the least.

  28. The next time airport security staff cold read my dead pet's favourite food out of me I'll be sure to thank them. The things airport security staff look for are not cold reading and are based on science. It is distinct from cold reading because it is based on psychology rather than pseudo science. Passport inspectors (and many others) are trained to pick up on anyone that looks suspicious, and they're trained using material with sound foundations.

  29. Mikal, of COURSE the doin't CLAIM to use cold reading. But they do use it. It's either self delusion or just being jerks stealing money from people.

    There is no psychic phenomenon. It does not exist. There is NO evidence for it. It's not even "inconclusive" it's just plain false.

    I'd love for it to be real, whole new sections of science and discovery would open up, but to consistantly ignore reality is… well rediculous.

  30. Actual Jack I personally know a few airport security agents

    and I strongly disagree with your opinion.Profiling/cold reading

    is not an exact science,it's communication/psychology involved when you purchase a ticket and become drilled by a few question,to determine if you may pose a possible threat

    As I said before the names or techniques may vary

    however it's a skill not a trick

    yet when agent use it,it's a tool however if psychic use them,

    it must be fake and a cheap trick??Come-on!

    That's not being honest

    Take care M.Dmon

  31. Hello N.R. Miller

    I never heard such pessimistic dribble uttered before in my life.

    Although Randi hasn't found what he's searching for,it's clear he's

    willing to consider the possibility

    You on the other-hand are very closed minded

    and nothing said or done will change that.That doesn't

    make you a skeptic you know,that makes you a heckler/

    nay-sayer which is completely different from Randi

    Take care M.Dmon

  32. Anyone who has anything to do with protecting borders or recognising potential threats should be fired on the spot if they claim to be psychic. Airport security has nothing to do with psychics, and what superficially resembles cold reading is in fact taught by professionals who don't, in the slightest, claim to have special abilities. Furthermore it is based on science.

    As for any of us been closed minded, that's nonsense. It's simply that something that has had a hundred years or more to prove itself, and hasn't, isn't something we're likely to believe in. We can confidently say that psychic powers have never shown themselves to exist.

  33. What Jack means is that there's about as much evidence for psy phenomena as there is for luminiferous aether.

    Actually, there's arguably more and better evidence for aether. Yet we dropped it, because the evidence wasn't that strong to begin with, and then we found something that explained that evidence better.

    The situation is the same for psy.

  34. Jack,

    I don't know if your purposely misconstruing my statements,or

    (out of respect I'll leave the blank)

    but cold reading/profiling is performed by professionals,(as I said)

    in various fields using various techniques..Psychic are one of those

    groups of people who've learned how to effectively utilize cold reading

    to acquire information..I can't make it simpler than that.

    Don't hate the player hate the game..

    Take care M.Dmon

  35. If 'psychics' are people who have learned how to effectively utilize cold reading to acquire information, then they're not psychics, and if they claim to be, they're lying or deluding themselves. Psychics have no special or supernatural abilities at all. No more than a used cars salesman, a confidence trickster, or a charlatan.

    Please watch this.

    The great thing is that some people will change their mind about such things, and decide to learn about just how wonderful the world is.

  36. Jack your more than entitled to your opinion

    but frankly I wonted more time with Rebbecca

    cold reading is a tool not the gift so no,

    a psychic would use cold reading in conjunction

    with a innate abiity..As I said earlier,it's a warming up

    technique not the kit-n-kabottle..but again please believe

    whatever makes you happy..Take care M.Dmon

  37. No, the point you're missing is that there is no innate ability. The clip I asked you to watch in my last reply to you, was an example of someone who doesn't claim to be psychic, performing what 'psychics' do all the time. He has no innate ability or belief the the supernatural. Innate psychic or supernatural abilities do not exist, or at least there has never been any evidence of them, despite people searching for them for hundreds of years. So-called psychics do not warm up by cold reading, all they do is cold reading, even if in some cases they aren't aware of it.

    Like 'the ideomotor effect', which is an example of just how amazing (and liable to mistakes) our wonderful brain is.

  38. We have established:

    1. That you think psychics use cold reading to warm up. They don't. Psychics don't have any supernatural innate abilities.

    2. No evidence has been provided by you to challenge that at all. Psychics are wrong in their assumptions, or are liars.

    3. Nobody suggested cold reading wasn't a skill. Cold reading is how psychics earn their money from grieving people. Cold reading has nothing to do with supernatural, or paranormal, powers at all. Period.

  39. cold reading is a skill that psychic use

    This was established.

    Not a gift,we agree

    psychic uses this technique to warm-up,the only person

    who could verify this fact,is a psychic..have you asked a psychic?

    I think not,however I'm opened minded and have the accessibility to

    to this information,do you?

    Since everyone is lying I assume you don't bother but yet make any

    claim you wont because you know more about psychic than anyone else..

    by what education do you insist,someone that "isn't real" doesn't have

    an innate ability.

  40. The people who could verify that a psychic doesn't use cold reading as a warm up are objective observers under fair conditions. In every case, with objective observers, under fair conditions, people have never proven to by psychic.

    The worst person to ask would be the psychic, for the obvious reasons that they may be tricking themselves or lying.

    The reason that I can say with confidence that there are no psychics is that over a hundred and more years there has never been any proof of psychic powers. Anyone can arrive at my stance by looking at the available evidence and applying the same levels of proof that applies to science. Psychic powers cannot be measured because they do not exist.

  41. Jack seriously,you make little sense and even smaller points

    A psychic would be the only ones to know how they perform a task/stunt

    Your stuck in Nay-Saying but if the possibility was open would learn most

    psychic consider to have an innate gift.I'm not talking about if it's proving

    or tested,but did they find this gift in the pocket or on the ground,or

    do you think they will say they were born with it=innate

    Please stop waisting my time

    Take care M.Dmon

  42. A psychic would be the only ones to know how they perform a task/stunt

    You're wrong. People know enough about psychology to say exactly how such people perform tasks/stunts. It's commonly referred to cold reading, or delusion.

    Your stuck in Nay-Saying but if the possibility was open would learn most psychic consider to have an innate gift.

    I'm not stuck in a nay-sayers stance at all. It's just no evidence has been provide to the contrary.

    I’m not talking about if it’s proving or tested,but did they find this gift in the pocket or on the ground,or do you think they will say they were born with it=innate

    Of course they will say they were born with it. Believing in something doesn't make it true. We'd live in a very odd world if we did. People believe in all kinds of dubious stuff, and frequently lie.

  43. okay true or not That's not the point

    You say there's no such thing as innate abilities

    In the psychic genre theirs is,because as you pointed out,

    The will say they're born with it..

    Now enjoy the math Take care M.Dmon

  44. Telekinetic wont need cold reading.

    Pyrokineic also wont need cold reading

    Astral projection,precognitions,scrying,dowsing

    There are hundreds of psychic anomalies(proving or not)

    that include the use of gifts that doesn't require a cold readings

    psychic don't equal cold reading only

    Take care M.Dmon

  45. Someone saying something doesn't make it true. For tens of thousands of years mankind was held back by believing in things that couldn't be reasoned. Then BANG! In the 17th Century something emerged called Natural Philosophy, which began to try and understand the world ('nature') through reason. From there mankind moved on, things got better and better. Natural philosophy later morphed into science. Getting over that first hump was a major achievement for mankind.

    Believing in things that can be proven seems obvious these days, but back then it was a major problem for mankind in general. Enlightenment thinkers, hundreds of years ago, learned that we couldn't merely trust what we believe, we have to test it.

    Innate psychic abilities have been tested and don't exist.

  46. But in the realm of possibilities

    and for sake of discussion Stop jumping the point

    You said Theirs "no innate abilities" and cold reading

    is what a psychic does

    1)not every psychic does cold reading

    2)for the sake of discussion an innate ability is an ability

    the psychic claims to have..How can you claim to be educated

    on the topic if you refuse to see such a simple small point in

    understanding the language of the Psychic

    You really are waisting my time

  47. Someone may claim to be able to balance six pennies on their nose, it's just that without proving it nobody would believe them. I accept that people believe that they may have innate psychic powers. I also think, given that psychic powers have never been proven, it is safe to say they don't exist. I understand the language of the psychic including the ones that are kidding themselves.

  48. are you looking for last word?

    I get it you don't believe but that was never my question

    but you can't say there's no such thing when you and I both know

    people believe that they may have innate psychic powers so to them

    their is such a thing which means you ate your words..

    people believe that they may have innate psychic powers

    which means cold reading not included..Thanks for stopping in

    maybe we can now get back on topic since we've established

    common understanding..Take care M.Dmon

  49. I get it you don’t believe but that was never my question but you can’t say there’s no such thing when you and I both know people believe that they may have innate psychic powers so to them their is such a thing which means you ate your words..

    I can say there is no such thing. Believing in something doesn't make it true. People who believe in such things are kidding themselves. This is a funny way of eating my words. People who believe in their psychic powers no doubt also delude themselves that cold reading is just warming up…

  50. I think I've thoroughly established you've got no evidence to back up what you're saying. Believe me, this isn't anything I hold against you, and maybe one day you'll change your mind. So take it easy, read up on the subject with a critical mind. Coming here suggests you're at least open to truth.

  51. Jack, and others, you've done a very good job explaining some of the evidence against cold readers like Sylvia. I doubt Mikal is actually reading, though, and I am fairly certain he is no older than 14 or so. I trust that with age he'll learn to start questioning his assumptions in an honest way.

  52. Ouch!

    Yes I heard there explanation but did everyone give

    me the same consideration??

    There's always two sides to a coin,I promise I was only

    offering a flip-side to things,very mature of me!

    Before me,cold reading was a bunch of crap psychic uses to con

    people Now,it's an useful skill developed and utilized by police officials,government agents psychiatrist and yes,even psychic

    I believe I've done some good Rebbecca.

    Why be so hurtful?

    Take care M.Dmon

    PS I also keep a thread going pretty well and

    remained civil mostly.Sorry if I offended anyone

    That wasn't my goal..

  53. "I never heard such pessimistic dribble uttered before in my life.

    Although Randi hasn’t found what he’s searching for,it’s clear he’s

    willing to consider the possibility"

    You think that I'm close minded… well I would say that it is YOU who are close minded, that YOU instead, with many studies, and in the face of all physics, you ignore for your own closely held belief.

    "You on the other-hand are very closed minded

    and nothing said or done will change that.That doesn’t

    make you a skeptic you know,that makes you a heckler/

    nay-sayer which is completely different from Randi"

    If there was ANY. ANY ANY ANY ANY evidence I would be right there pushing the need for more studies. It would be amazing if such a thing existed (which i stated but you ignored).

  54. I apologies I obviously offended you

    I don't doubt that studies conclude some people are tricking others

    I accept the notion there's no substantial scientific evidence to prove

    psychic abilities.

    I also know that science doesn't have answers for everything

    "You can go through life believing nothing is a miracle,or go

    through life believing everything is a miracle"Albert Einstein

    Take care my friend M.Dmon

  55. Yes science does not have awnsers for everything… you know the good thing? They're working on it. But in the mean time they do have the awnsers to psychic crap. Guess what the awnser is.

    But on the subject of psychics, there is no proof. Hell I'd call it anti-proof. Psychic phenomenon does not exist, and all proprieters are using trickery.

    There NO EVIDENCE. It's a technique you types use quite a bit, smudging the words a bit, "theres no substantial evidence" implies that there is some. BUT THERE ISNT EVEN SOME.

  56. Hello N.R. Miller

    I guess we disagree

    Psychic happens to too many people,for

    me to simply deduce theres "no evidence" or proof..

    Because everyone at some point may experience a psychic anomaly,

    that can only be described as paranormal.It happens!

    Deja-vu,Precognitions, Astral projection,clairvoyance

    are not by design to be measured or probed its an experience,

    intangible and often at random..When these things happen to you,

    it's best to keep a journal of your experience,date and record time..

    You may need it to provide your evidance

    But just that's my opnion..Take care my friend M.Dmon

  57. Psychic phenomena doesn't happen to too any people. What happens is that people have perfectly ordinary experiences with our amazing brains, and misinterpret it as psychic phenomena. That's all.

    The line that people always fall back on is that paranormal beliefs are not meant to be measured. It is a weak argument because just because something can't be measured doesn't mean that it exists. Anything that doesn't exist can't be measured. That's the point of non existence. It's like the ontological argument. All wrong.

  58. Actually jack i was talking more about unconscious awareness

    like precogs or visions.phenomenons reported to happen to thousands

    of people all across the world Jack,are you denouncing everyone?

    Maybe science does have new names for amazing brain power

    but their are a group of people jack,who been receiving and

    perceiving the world through this fascinating amazing brain Jack,

    we call them Psychics

    Thanks for helping me make my point

    Take care My friend M.Dmon

  59. I denounce everyone, no matter how many anecdotal accounts you have they do not make a science or phenomenon.

    It's a horrible laps in reasoning to believe so.

    SHOW YOUR EVIDENCE MIKAL. I don't have the burden of proof. You do.

  60. I'm not denouncing anyone. All of their experiences can be explained in ordinary psychological and biological terms. It doesn't mean they're mad or psychic, it's just that the brain produces odd experiences occasionally. It's nothing paranormal or psychic. It's just the human brain.

  61. SHOW YOUR EVIDENCE MIKAL. I don’t have the burden of proof. You do.

    You expect me to bring over everyone and everything I encounter

    to help support a statement that people have experiences.Mr.Miller you

    can goggle,visit or read about them,yourself..I don't work for you

    I am offering an opinion as are you.

    Take care M.Dmon

  62. I think this says it all:

    "okay true or not That’s not the point"

    It's interesting reading these comments, and the denial to see reality. Either M.Dmon is a kid, or a Believer-because-he-wants-to-believe. I used to make excuses like that, until I actually read into the subject, and looked at the evidence with an unbiased eye. Learned a lot about perception, cognition, memory, standards of evidence, and a hell of a lot more.

    But that comment about something being true or not as besides the point is one I hear from many believers. People can honestly believe they have abilities, or that they encountered aliens, or bigfoot, or whatever. They are mistaken, and there are many reasons for this. Reading some of the challenges for Randi's prize shows that many people honestly believe that they have these powers, and are genuinely puzzled when they fail. Of course, many give excuses for this failure, or simply deny they really failed. I used to "see the future" in dreams. Annoyed the hell out of me. Then I learned about how memories are constructed (so to speak), about theories of deja-vu, and even the possible structure of space-time, as well as such things as "counting the hits", and sadly, I was mistaken. I still get deja-vu, but I'm aware of what it is and it doesn't bother me anymore. Over the last few years, I've taken a serious look at what I believe, and many of my old beliefs were tossed aside as not being true.

    Unlike some, I would prefer to believe what is true, and if there is no evidence for something, I will not believe it. If evidence is presented that would indicate I am wrong, then I can modify my beliefs, but I will not believe something because it sounds good, or many people believe it (appeal to popularity, isn't it).

    Anyway, I'm not sure how to encode this, but Michael Shermer's "Why People Believe Weird Things" is another good book to read. Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/People-Believe-Weird-Things

  63. far from true and your cold reading sucks

    It means I true careless for side bar issues when I'm in the

    momentum of making a point..As I said earlier,I tend to wonder when

    I'm disinterested but girls would call this a one track mind..

    So I appreciate you and your friends keeping antagonistic comments

    like that, to your selves,,Lets just remain on topic.Take care M.Dmon

    PS or I'll share my perspective regardless

    how vile the mod may consider it.

    "Too wrongs don't make a right" Right!

  64. Mikal (im not sure of your sticking around or not so I may be barking at thin air… but I've done that before…. I do that a lot really.)

    You are saying we are wrong. We have provided explanations for why we are not, for why Sylvia Brown is a monsterous faker. The entire scientific world discounts psychic phenomena. It doesn't exist.

    If you wish for us to even entertain the claim that psychic powers even come close to existing (and you've brought up some rediculous crap, such as pyrokenisis) then show us a bit of proof, and a webpage on google that talks about something occuring is not proof, not even evidence.

    A dude typing "I was thinking one day and then I thought this thing into being on fire." Is crap.

    If that's what it takes to convince you I suggest ten minutes in a high school physics class.

    Of course you'll realize that when you get there.

    (ooooooh snap! Low blow or absolute truth? Only you know Mikal, only you know.)

  65. You missed the whole point Grandpa Miller

    I was saying that not everything can be weighed or tested.

    Perhaps science will invent machines someday to animate

    brain-waves during subconscious sleep state,and provide

    further answerers to the mysteries of curtain phenomenon

    that are now consider fantastic or Psychic.

    When they do I'm sure they'll describe,rename and

    manufacture pills that will induce these effects,all for

    a very small fee but that's just my opinion..

    Take care M.Dmon

  66. I know the government(s) did testing, they spent massive amounts of money studying this because the slim chance that this will pay off was worth it to them. Yet the fact that the programs were cancelled, should be a decent enough amount of evidence to cast a large shadow of doubt in the most steadfast of beleivers. Because why would the goverment get rid of a program that could give them the ability to forcast the future, the minds of thier enemies, the location of oil and those who are in hiding?

    Also I'm 21, a heavy drinker, a college student, single, with no children that I know of and slighty insane, grandpa is not the best description of me.

    And again you are making nasty leaps in reasoning, that science WILL prove you right. But it hasnt, it hasnt even come close. If it does I will flip, but the possibility it does is slim.

  67. I've heard the claim that America only invested in remote viewing in the expectations that the Soviets would hear about it and waste time doing the same. Seems plausible, given the atmosphere of the times, but with these classified programs it's hard to separate truth from fiction. ;)

  68. I would think (though I have no proof but my personal reasoning) that the government, like someone playing the lotery, will plunk down billions on a one in three hundred quadrogaggilionzilldinion chance that they could have a psycho warrior team to fight their wars from an office in langly or the pentagon.

  69. Hello Grandpa,

    Our government fund/unfund programs all the time.

    In Every election our leaders brings a change,not always for

    the benefit of our greater good..Mainly for political agendas,

    and money of course,but do I have to prove this too?

    Using the argument that or government is looking out for us,

    doesn't hold considering they often are only looking out for

    them America is fickle this way,(to me)this is only what your

    argument reveals..(critical thinking)

    Although using the same premise that you suggest Grandpa,

    China has CONTINUED their research into psychic phenomenon,

    training and development.For the record were a little behind the curve compared with our students academic.(do I need have to prove this?)

    Also in my favor,this revelation has nothing to do with some Soviet Union conspiracy,raised by one of your panels of cohorts.

    http://www.spiritofmaat.com/archive/oct1/pdong.ht

    I hope my attempt has provided you a chance to consider

    the possibilities I have presented you.I accept that science

    likes to call these anomalies and phenomenons,bio-chemical

    or maybe even quantum physics,but I hope you concede that

    some of these theories and ideas, are well defined,studied and

    cultivated by people who call themselves psychic

    look Mom,No cold reading either!

    I will be testing you my friend on the information

    Monday..I think out of respect you should at least be

    familiar with what you criticize..

    Take care my friend M.Dmon

  70. I'm sorry I didnt read this earlier, but hey better late then never.

    "Our government fund/unfund programs all the time.

    In Every election our leaders brings a change,not always for

    the benefit of our greater good..Mainly for political agendas,

    and money of course,but do I have to prove this too?

    Using the argument that or government is looking out for us,

    doesn’t hold considering they often are only looking out for

    them America is fickle this way,(to me)this is only what your

    argument reveals..(critical thinking)"

    First you got my argument wrong. I was saying that asserting that the government did testing proves your claim is erronous, as not only are they no longer testing after saying publicly they found no evidence, but that the government, no matter what, is not a "trump" card for actualy science.

    Second, quantum physics does not assert superpowers at all. It just doesn't.

    Third: "but I hope you concede that

    some of these theories and ideas, are well defined,studied and

    cultivated by people who call themselves psychic"

    are you asserting that by studing psychic crud you are a psychic? I'm not sure I understand this statement, but I would say then that there are people who call themselves psychics whom study and cultivate a disproven set of theories and mostly waste their time doing so.

  71. Hello Mr. Miller

    Now we're just playing ping-pong.

    You do assume that only because the US has and obtained(for now)

    federal funding for psychic phenomenon,it must be based on having

    to produce sufficient evidence..

    If that's the case Mr. Miller you can also deem that AIDS and Cancer will never have cures,because we give-up far to easy over here in the US

    and we haven't found one yet!

    2nd We do change laws and policies all the time.Isay it's

    not because we draw any ligament conclusion,but it's because we

    are fickle,and each party represent certain agendas,not the

    good-will of the people.

    Concede!

    You have no prof that we abandon good ideas for good reasoning,

    this is false..In many occasions like in Vietnam,we've proving we can

    abandon good People without good reasoning..The US is not Superior when it comes to making good decisions(my opinion)

    In the same breath,China has NOT abounded their research,

    they continue to explore and cultivate many facets considered supenatural/paranormal..Which logical leads me to believe that they

    will discoverer these phenomenons long before we here in the US..

    If what you say is true,than everyone and every country would've already

    stepped out of the dark-ages,yet as I proving in my post,other countries

    are not drawing your conclusions.The world and its scientific community, doesn't revolve around the US,I don't believe you have researched your findings thoroughly..

    Concede!

    Regardless of what anomalies;remote viewing,astral projection etc..

    may people still train Mr.Miller, they train diligently to perform and

    understand these phenominons which are recorded all around the world.

    What may be a waist of time to you,may very well be someones accomplishments.However you are in no positions(you arrogant prick)

    to assume what's a waist of time for others.This is their choice alone..

    Concede!

    Oh,one more thing.If I was educated properly,the pod-cast of

    Rebbecca's show,from the main page discussed how scientist DO

    Theories that their maybe some hyper-dimensional link that we

    draw consciousness from,which would primarily explain Precognitions..

    So again,your premise if way-off speaking on behalf of scientist,

    when you only play one on TV.True is science is well aware of these anomalies and are finding theories and avenues to explore,not to prove

    these abilities Mr. Miller,but to explain why we have them..

    (please listen)and Concede!

    Take care my friend M.Dmon

  72. Sorry guys

    You do assume that only because the US has and obtained(for now)

    federal funding for psychic phenomenon,it must be based on having

    to produce sufficient evidence..

    It should read:You do assume that only because the

    US has and abandoned (for now)federal funding..

    I was in a rush this mornong..Doing Christmas shopping later,

    so I probably wont be able to get back to you guys today (most likely)

    Happy holidays Take care M.Dmon

  73. You like restateing my argument into one you can win don't you?

    "…but that the government, no matter what, is not a “trump” card for actual science."

    I have said again and again, that the government of any country is not the basis for an argument on this subject one way or the other. Yet you ignore this, change what I am saying and argue a point you can win.

    "Regardless of what anomalies;remote viewing,astral projection etc..

    may people still train Mr.Miller, they train diligently to perform and

    understand these phenominons which are recorded all around the world."

    And yet they still come up with nothing, zilch, nada.

    "What may be a waist of time to you,may very well be someones accomplishments.However you are in no positions(you arrogant prick)

    to assume what’s a waist of time for others.This is their choice alone..

    Concede!"

    Maybe they enjoy it, and then it's not a waste of time, but in MY EYES, that would be a waste of time. Arragant prick, yes I guess I am. I'm not saying they CAN'T do this, that is THEIR choice. I am saying that it is a waste of time in my eyes.

    "Oh,one more thing.If I was educated properly,the pod-cast of

    Rebbecca’s show,from the main page discussed how scientist DO

    Theories that their maybe some hyper-dimensional link that we

    draw consciousness from,which would primarily explain Precognitions.."

    And if you did listen to the show youd see this was a postulation about science in the future. There was no evidence to back this and was done as "what if."

    It's crap like this, when you and the rest of the wacko groups latch onto, that limits what science can really look into and have fun with. You take a single thing out of context and scream "WE WERE RIGHT! SEE! A SCIENTIST SAID WE WERE RIGHT!"

    so… stop doing that please.

  74. Hello Mr.Miller

    I don't base my research/conclusion on what science alone.

    Talks and correspondence are essential key elements to include,

    when ever your drawing a conclusion on their behalf,like "how their

    waisting their time".

    For the record! I place into context the fact you

    speak like a medium,channeling everyone's opinion

    including the scientific community.. but get upset if

    I use them to prove other-wise.

    Truth is Mr.Miller some scientists,governments,countries

    and citizens all around the world are "waisting their time",

    and loving it!

    but I guess your entitled to your opinion..

    Merry Christmass..M.Dmon

  75. "I don’t base my research/conclusion on what science alone.

    Talks and correspondence are essential key elements to include,

    when ever your drawing a conclusion on their behalf,like “how their

    waisting their time”."

    This is why you end up with erroneous conclusions, first hadn experience is never a substitute for evidence. It's the key to the errors in your process.

    "For the record! I place into context the fact you

    speak like a medium,channeling everyone’s opinion

    including the scientific community.. but get upset if

    I use them to prove other-wise."

    Because I speak for my own conclusions, which fall in line with the conclusion of many on this site and many elsewhere I am suddenly speaking for them?

    Where have you "proved" me otherwise? Where did I get upset on this? Actualy I don't recall who, but on one of the other Sylvia subjects, the last post on that section nicely shows how your reasoning on this is erroneous and wrong… but maybe you chose to ignore that. Or havnt seen that, I assume ignore is more in line with the way you work.

    "Truth is Mr.Miller some scientists,governments,countries

    and citizens all around the world are “waisting their time”,

    and loving it!

    but I guess your entitled to your opinion.."

    As are you, however do not be suprised when someone with a dissenting opinion speaks out.

  76. If you say so miller,however I addressed your

    argument and reasoning,but for some reason,you

    keep skipping over this,and targeting me instead..

    So I'm no longer interested since it seems you can't

    objectively hold an option

    Even though a noted scientist can conceive a simple

    possibility,your expertises proclaim it does not exist..

    Even though people all around the world benefit from various

    spiritual and metaphysical teachings,you have proclaimed "they're

    all waisting time"..

    Yes!Our government has denied further funding(as we know it)

    here in the U.S.A,we are currently back-peddling as we speak,

    in policies and direction..

    As if we only fund good decision

    I hope I made my argument organized enough.

    I've concluded that I waisted my time with you..

    Take care my friend M.Dmon

    I'm done with this..

  77. December 1, 2006 at 7:29 am Mikal Dmon wrote:

    "Actual Jack I personally know a few airport security agents

    and I strongly disagree with your opinion.Profiling/cold reading

    is not an exact science,it’s communication/psychology involved when you purchase a ticket and become drilled by a few question,to determine if you may pose a possible threat

    […]

    yet when agent use it,it’s a tool however if psychic use them,

    it must be fake and a cheap trick??Come-on!"

    What a cheap blow. Airport security might be using techniques similar to cold reading to find things out about people that can be useful in screening for potential terrorist threats.

    This is in no way similar to people on stage using the same psychological tricks while claiming to be getting this information from your dearly departed ancestors. True, the techniques may be the same, but airport security is not ripping off the people they're screening and pretending to be relaying messages from dead people their subjects would like to talk to just one more time.

    It would be similar to saying that airport security sometimes uses guns to take out dangerous elements, and bankrobbers use guns to steal huge amounts of money, so that means bankrobbers are psychic.

    I suppose in woowoo land that passes for logic …

  78. December 1, 2006 at 7:14 pm, Mikal Dmon wrote:

    "people believe that they may have innate psychic powers

    which means cold reading not included."

    Why would self-proclaimed psychics, whether their abilities are supposedly innate or only developed when growing up, necessarily have to be for real?

    Just because someone has an uncanny ability to pick up on non-verbal communication, or performs cold-reading without realizing it, doesn't mean that whetever they're doing is psychic. It just means they may believe they're psychic, but meanwhile still be using the same, very mundane, very real and un-paranormal abilities that, for example, your airport security guards are using.

    December 1, 2006 at 9:21 pm, Mikal Dmon wrote:

    "Psychic happens to too many people,for

    me to simply deduce theres “no evidence” or proof..

    Because everyone at some point may experience a psychic anomaly,

    that can only be described as paranormal.It happens!"

    Chance is a funny thing. With 6 billion inhabitants on this planet, million to one odds still happen an average of 6000 times.

    What are the odds of being hit by a meteorite? Well, immensely small. Yet, it 's happen numerous times before. If you check YouTube, you'll probably even find a clip of someone who caught it on camera …

  79. December 3, 2006 at 12:55 am, Joshua wrote:

    "I’ve heard the claim that America only invested in remote viewing in the expectations that the Soviets would hear about it and waste time doing the same. Seems plausible, given the atmosphere of the times, but with these classified programs it’s hard to separate truth from fiction."

    I've heard a (much more plausible) plausible explanation that part of the reason these projects were kept alive was to provide a cover story to prevent the Russians from finding out where they REALLY got their information from, like having tapped into a communications cable running at the bottom of the ocean, or a new spy sattelite taking very high resolution pictures every couple of days, etc…

    Perhaps the Americans were getting their hands on so much classified information that the Russians actually believed the "psychics" program was working well enough to attempt their own version of it.

  80. not all cold readers are mediums exarch,so not everyones

    approach is the same.Cold reading is a skill that anyone

    could learn.A psychic shouldn't deduce cold reading an ability

    yet shouldn't be excluded from training a skill.

    guns require permits,and shooting requires skill

    something also learned and trained..A psychic.shouldn't deduce

    shooting an ability,yet shouldn't be excluded from training a skill.

    I hope you appreciate my fresh realistic view..

    Take care my friend M.Dmon

  81. I think the difference between scientists and woos is that when a scientist gets a wacky idea, based on looking at some new scientific discovery and thinking "what if", they may set out to prove that idea is correct, but assume it's just a wacky idea until they've got the proof they need.

    The woo however, has tons of wacky ideas based on how they'd like the world and the universe to work, they set out to prove these exist based on the fact that many people have first, second or third person witness accounts of something that corresponds to their wacky idea.

    However, they' don't seem to bother finding out if these supposed phenomena even really exist. And they certainly seem to hold the prior assumption that their wacky ideas must be correct, and then spend lots of time finding evidence to support them, even after science has already figured out an alternative (and far less exiting) explanation.

  82. I hope if this message gets through,my others didn't.

    I don't agree that scientist,stop being scientist just to propose

    a wacky idea..

    I would think a scientist remains a scientist

    when determining an theory or Idea..I admit that I assume

    this,but doesn't not hold truth;that educated people might make

    an educated guess?

    To me:It's like saying a skeptic is wacky because they disagree

    with most societies.I would argue a skeptic is a skeptic and

    they're nature is to think critical(small props)

    So a science doesn't stop being science,because this message

    board tends to select to reject,certain"wacky" possibilities..

    That is only my opinion but I respectfully disagree with you..

    Take care M.Dmon

  83. If you read my message properly, you'll see I never said that Mikal.

    (Let me quote it here to make sure):

    December 6, 2006 at 10:47 pm, exarch wrote:

    "I think the difference between scientists and woos is that when a scientist gets a wacky idea, based on looking at some new scientific discovery and thinking “what if”, they may set out to prove that idea is correct, but assume it’s just a wacky idea until they’ve got the proof they need."

    So it's not the scientists who become wacky, it's their ideas that might. The difference however, is that they realize that until they've got proof to support their wacky ideas and hypotheses, they shouldn't go espousing them as truth.

    And that's where some scientists become woos: they skip a step and go straight from coming up with a crazy idea to assuming this idea must be true, without going through the evidence step first. That's not science, that's belief, and that's what makes a scientist a woo.

    Same thing with skeptics: just because you seem to be of the opinion that skeptics are dismissing psychics out of hand, doesn't mean we are. We've all seen them perform, and we've seen stage magicians perform much better and much more amazing things, and we're simply not convinced that the so-called psychics are therefore doing anything supernatural at all.

    This is where YOU are skipping a step: you go straight from crazy idea (the human brain can enact things that break all the known laws of physics) to claiming this is for real becausde you've heard of a few people who're convinced what they're doing is better than chance.

    The skeptics however are getting tired of pointing out to you that you've skipped the "evidence" step here, and that there is no phenomenon to explain in the first place. That psychics aren't doing anything that couldn't be achieved by chance or lucky guessing. And scientific research into the phenomenon seems to corroborate this.

    No phenomenon means no need for an explanation, and thus the concept of "psychic abilities" simply melts away, since there are apparently no supernatural mental powers, just very mundane psychological phenomena and human brains being fooled.

  84. I’ll all pumped. Sylvia is coming to Calgary, Alberta and I’ve got tickets! This Saturday afternoon!

    I also have a somewhat obnoxious home-made t-shirt with the “Stop Sylvia Brown” logo on the front and an appropriate Cectic comic on the back (http://cectic.com/020.html) for the occasion.

    It should be interesting. I’ll make sure to eat first.

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