Skepticism

BREAKING NEWS: The Psychics Here Are Also Really Stupid

Greetings from London! I apologize for the infrequency of my updates here on Skepchick and on Twitter, but life has been full of wonderful business.

Monday night was London Skeptics in the Pub, where I gave a talk called Women’s Intuition and Other Fairytales. I was really, really sick for the days leading up to the talk, and that day I was taking multiple kinds of drugs in an attempt to be well enough to not get mucus on the microphone and awake enough to make it through the whole talk. Happily, the last drug I took worked, and I ended up having a fantastic time during the talk, throughout the Q&A afterward, straight through another few hours of drinking and talking, and then at a Chinese restaurant where we stayed late into the night laughing and toasting Tim Minchin‘s favorite dead Australian basketball star.

In addition to Tim, that night I also got to see a lot of old and new friends, including dear Skepchick Tracy, Skepchick contributor Lynette Nusbacher, and Skepchick calendar model and comedian Iszi Lawrence. Plus, there was my super best friend Jon Ronson, Simon Singh, Ben Goladacre, Neil Denny, Chris French, and awesome production coordinator Shalinee Singh. I apologize for this most namedropping post ever, but I had such a good time with all these people and many more that if I don’t write it down then I’ll later assume it was all the product of me licking a funny mushroom.

Anyway, I’m staying in a neighborhood called Kingston, and this morning I discovered that just down the road is one of England’s top psychics: Sally Morgan! I was so excited to see this article about Sally in The Guardian . . . wait a second, no, that’s actually “Your Local Guardian,” which I suspect is like those “Rollex” watches and “Louis Vitton” bags you buy on street corners in Chinatown.

The article starts off rather promising, with a good question: “What will this weekend’s National Lottery numbers be?” That is soon followed by another good question: “Does the fact that Morgan is not winning the lottery week after week in any way diminish her psychic ability?” I can’t wait to hear the answers, can you?

The answers Sally gives are, in order, “I’m not telling” and “LA LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOOOOOOU!”

Sally says, “I believe we need cynics and sceptics, they ask the questions,” but she forgets to offer any actual answers in the article. Here’s a hint, Sally: you kind of need both to get anywhere. Here are some more questions for you, for when you get around to answering things:

“Would you like to win a million dollars without guessing lotto numbers?”

“Would you like to prove you’re a psychic under controlled circumstances?”

“Would you like to really put cynics and skeptics in their place?”

If the answer to any of those is “yes,” then congratulations! You’re ready to take James Randi’s million dollar challenge! (NOTE: dollars are like pounds that aren’t worth as much, but if you want I bet we could find some kind people to boost it up to a million-pound challenge.) Time is running out, so you’d better let us know soon.

On a side note, is it just me or does Sally look like she’s just a few packs of cigarettes away from Sylvia Browne? Somehow I suspect that the physical similarities are just the beginning.

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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26 Comments

  1. Look at that picture! Her aura is almost white! Just a matter of time before she hits that lottery.

    Of course she gave me a great approach for one of my problems.

    My daughter: Daddy, can I use the car and have some money for shopping?

    Me: “LA LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOOOOOOU!”

  2. My fail is reaching self-flagellatory levels at having missed it. If I’d known there were going to be dead Australian basketball stars, maybe that would’ve clinched it. I’ll have to track down some mushrooms and recreate the experience in my head.

  3. It was a real pleasure to meet you, Rebecca – honestly didn’t think I’d have the chance until I’d managed to scrape the pennies and get myself over to a TAM in the future.

    And I apologise for my little fanboy moment at the start… Even though it was awesome.

  4. Darnit I missed this whole London pub affair too, being a non-Londoner. I’m kinda banking on the mild rumblings of a super-special UK-TAM that rise to the surface now and then… does anyone know anything about anything such as that?

  5. Heh! Don’t worry Darkwinter, I don’t think you were the only one to embarrass themselves. I did too :)

    It was a great evening though. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a room so full of strangers and felt so comfortable to be able to go up to anyone and start talking to them. Everyone was so friendly. Looking forward to the next one.

    Andy

  6. I’m an American who happened to catch the talk.

    I brought a friend from Kansas who was a bit put off by all the douche talk and left before he got to hear his state described as ass-backwards.

    I thought it was great and will be there again next month.

  7. Make sure you check out the Darwin exhibition at the Natural History Museum while you’re here (if you haven’t already). It’s really cool, and the NHM building is really amazing (even though some of the exhibits are a bit… old).

  8. @NoReply: Ha, I’m glad you had fun, and sorry your friend left. I’m wondering, did he leave because he was uncomfortable with the douche talk? I’d find that very, very interesting, especially if your friend considered himself a skeptic or was at all interested in stopping pseudoscientific medical claims.

  9. After Rebecca mentioned it on SGU, I thought I couldn’t make it so I promptly forgot about it. Turns out I could have done given my plans for the weekend.

    Fortunately I bought Tim Minchin’s DVD and Ben Goldacre’s Book after seeing them at 9 Lessons and Carols, so I can just pretend they are my own personal friends and not imaginary. Like with the Bible and Jesus.

    I second the call for a TAM UK.

  10. A seconded call for England-based TAMmery! I think the only question that remains is whether it be called UK TAM or TAM UK. I favour the latter, that way we get to pronounce it Tamuk like it’s a real word or a secret club. Although on the downside, Tamuk does make it sound like a cheap feminine hygeine product.

  11. FYI I have never seen douche for sale in Australia or adverstised. My understanding is that it was around years ago but from the 70s seemed to disappear (thanks to the women’s movement perhaps?). I only learnt about it from reading books like The World According to Garp and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. But then Australians tend to shower at least once a day, sometimes twice (it can get pretty hot), so maybe we don’t have a problem with being ‘smelly down there’.

  12. Marsh, you think “Tamuk” sounds like a cheap feminine hygiene product, but how about if we change it to Tamuke, with an accent over the “e”. Then I think it sounds like an expensive feminine hygiene product, so we’ll be fine :)

    The first time I heard about a douche was “Revenge of the Nerds”. An insult from Booger to one of the jocks….

  13. @Rebecca

    I more or less dragged him and another friend along–though he did seem excited about the title of the talk. He didn’t admit outright that it was the douche stuff that drove him out, but he is obviously uncomfortable with even vaguely sexual discussions.

    The other friend may be a new skeptical convert, so you can put a notch in your belt if you go in for that sort of thing.

  14. @Gib

    So you’re thinking like a kind of ‘Tam-oo-kaay’? I like it. But I think it could only be said while giving one of those pointing-forefinger-gun kind of hand gestures. And maybe a raised eyebrow.

  15. @Gib:

    Cool, well I think between us we’ve put together the real bones of this and done the hard work, we’ll just leave it to Rebecca and Randi and the like to mop up the smaller issues (dates, times, venues, talks, attendances, yadda yadda yadda – the easy bits) and then we can let them have some of the credit too…!

  16. Rebecca,
    I think it was “Watto” that Tim was toasting wasn’t it ? You’ll be glad to hear that Eric Watterson isn’t dead, but as good as: he’s not playing for the Wildcats any more…

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