Anti-Science

Supernatural Nookie

If you’re not receiving Bob Carroll’s wonderful Skeptic’s Dictionary e-mail updates, maybe you should be. Go sign up here.

The most recent update included some info on a conference hosted by the Forever Family Foundation, (WARNING: LINK NOT SAFE FOR GRAPHIC DESIGNERS) where stars of pseudoscience such as Dean Radin and Gary Schwartz will gather in San Francisco. Bob says:

One speaker who sounds like he might be interesting is Arthur Hastings, who is listed as doing “psychomanteum research.” I found a psychomanteum website and apparently these folks have intercourse with apparitions, not necessarily of a sexual nature. This stuff is said to be “a highly effective approach to healing bereavement” and looks to Raymond Moody for inspiration. He’s the one who loves to scry with celebrities and gave a kick start to the NDEs-prove-SOC movement.

I’ll admit that I just about stopped reading after “intercourse with apparitions.” It reminded me of the book I just finished, The Secret Life of Houdini, which goes on at some length about the role of sex in spiritualism. There were a few mediums who offered to let clients have sex with their dead loved ones, like by hiring a local prostitute to dress up like a spirit and get it on in a dark room. There’s also a lot of speculation (backed up by a lot of evidence) that the famous medium Margery was sleeping with as many skeptical investigators as possible in order to influence their test results. John Rennie, editor of Scientific American, speaks on this point in his lectures, since the biggest test of Margery happened to be conducted by his magazine (um, prior to his time there, naturally). Were it not for Houdini keeping a cool head, Margery may have managed to sleep her way to scientific recognition.

Anyway, with thoughts of ghost sex* dancing in my head, I ran on over to the terribly designed psychomanteum site linked in the e-mail (and above). I clicked around trying to find out what exactly this involved — there’s a long narrative about how to use your psychomanteum, which I scanned quickly.

Because of the fact that I wasn’t reading carefully (hey, I have other stuff to do this morning), I only noticed quotes like this:

You may want to perform a cleansing or purification ritual when you set it up and prior to each use.

Keep your psychomanteum free of daily detritus

Candles placed at various places in the area are absolutely essential. Incense and sage wands sanctify the area further and attract good spiritual energy.

So anyway, I definitely came away assuming that a Psychomanteum is some kind of vibrator or dildo, and continued searching the site looking for a photo or instructions for how one goes about building this paranormal sexual aid. Imagine my disappointment, then, when I finally got frustrated and went to Wikipedia, only to be told straight out that a psychomanteum was nothing more than a room of mirrors for people to stare into. My assumption was at least close — I can think of few activities more masturbatory than spending your day staring at your own reflection waiting for the secrets of the universe to present themselves.

*FYI: There was a period of time not long ago when “ghost sex” was one of the top search terms that lead people to Skepchick.org.

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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10 Comments

  1. Hhahahha! Yeah, that's an interesting one, isn't it? I think I had that during my religious phase. Now I just sort my M&Ms by color and eat the little pretzel sticks only in groups of even numbers. Harmless stuff like that. I was finally able to stop brushing my teeth so much that I was damaging my gums.

  2. Hey baby…why don't we head on up to my psychomanteum and indulge in a little mutual mind reading? Can ya guess what I'm thinkin'? Yeah, that's right. That isn't any ghost knocking under the table…and that table isn't the only thing made of wood. Ya dig it??

  3. dd: I had a bit of it, too, in my own religious days. Fortunately, it was nothing destructive, but I'd spend half the day in class trying to figure out which sorting order for the books in my desk would be most respectful of my Bible. (Baptist elementary school, y'see.)

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