Afternoon Inquisition

AI: psychic powers

My first Point of Inquiry episode was released a few days ago, and I interviewed Ian Rowland, the world expert on cold reading, and the author of The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading.

Ian gave good interview, but I’m pleased the producer edited out all of his flirting…

Here’s a blurb from the episode description:

Rowland explains the history and meaning of cold reading, and how and why it works.  He demonstrates how cold reading is a “Win-Win Game” and psychics are “right” even when they’re wrong.

He claims that he can replicate any psychic ability, and reveal all the tricks of the trade.

Rowland recounts some of his performances as a psychic, tarot reader, astrologer, and medium, and his “miracles” of spoon bending, psychic surgery, and hammering a nail into his head.

If paranormal abilities were real, what kind would you like to possess?

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  1. Definitely the power to read minds. Of course by that I mean my power would be able to translate everything so that could understand it. Because right now I can’t make heads or tails of what you people are thinking!

  2. @Rebecca: Woah! Your comment went stealth! And did I just see a comment section that didn’t require registration? Your paranormal power to disappear from the intertoobz is intriguing.

    For me: telekinesis

  3. Being able to move things just by thinking about it would be awesome. I don’t just mean bending spoons either, I want to be be able to move cars and stuff. Telekinesis is the way to go.

  4. @Gabriel: Remember: if you’re going to get the Wolverine claws, you also have to get the healing.

    The healing would be awesome but the immortality would get depressing after watching loved ones die off.

    In the more usual paranormal sphere, I’d want telekinesis. It would help with my laziness. My husband and I often bemoan our obvious lack of midichlorians when the remote is between us but out of both of our reach.

    Plus, when I was an angsty teenager, I had many a fantasy of going all Carrie on the people who tormented me. Good thing it wasn’t easy for me to get my hands on weapons back then, so I had time to grow up, clue in, and become a pacifist. An angry, angry pacifist.

  5. I would just like to mention that the mobile version of Skepchick has banner ads and right now, those ads are for the Quantum Jumping website which, as has been discussed, will help one develop one’s psychic abilities. That is all.

  6. On the one hand I’d like to be able to read minds so I could know how girls are thinking about me. On the other hand I don’t want mind reading because then I’d know how girls were thinking about me.

  7. The intellectual barbs that ‘psycics’ use to keep people at a great enough social distance to make it look like they have a power they don’t have. Oh, wait, that is the only real psychic power.

    I guess I’d want skepchipower: the ability to make people think critically and honestly about anything they think, feel, believe, or do.

  8. Being able to disintegrate people just by thinking about. Man, I’d be disnitegrating folks right and left!
    Queue at the supermarket? ZAP!
    Idiot using one hand for his mobile and the other for holding an apple that he’s eating cycling in front of me? ZAP!
    Just feeling ornery? ZAP-ZAPPITY-ZAP-ZAP!

    Or maybe teleportation.

  9. I think telepathy would be the greatest single power to have. Knowing what people were thinking…. Just walking into a bank would be a severe test of your scruples…. all those pin numbers and accounts?

    Personally, I would only use it to gain access to secret government installations to find out where they were hiding all the alien bodies and spacecraft… and maybe to get back the $53K of my money the government gave to the banks in the bailout. Otherwise, it would just be to make sure someone was telling me the truth, especially politicians. I might even move to Washington if it had a limited range. On the other hand, it isn’t too hard to tell when they’re lying right now, so I don’t know if I’d need that power.

    On the third hand, if it also included reading computer “minds” Woohoo!!! My plans for total world domination would be advanced to: Today…

  10. Ability to hammer nails into my head, obviously. Although actually I possibly already have that ability but have never had it tested. Back in a minute…

  11. If we’re going X-Men, I’d like Professor Xavier’s set of mental powers, and the big Cerebro computer thing, that would allow me to read every mind in the world, find all the fundamentalists, and switch on their critical thinking skills. I think that’d do.

  12. I want to teleport. Bamf! No commute. Forget something at home, just bamf back and get it. Want to visit the folks? Bamf. Too cold? Bamf. Need to get groceries. Bamf. Visit all kinds of exotic locales. Bamf.

  13. Mind control. Influence over emotion and belief.

    Think about it – I could have lunch with just one Republican senator, or even pass within a hundred yards, and we could have the beginnings of health care reform in this country.

    “Please use your powers for good”. I would.

  14. @QuestionAuthority: “Why would you want to teleport yourself to Banff? Isn’t there bus service or something?” ;-)

    This made milk squirt out my nose, and I’m lactose intolerant. Besides, Banff is freakin beautiful.

    Oh,and I would take telekinesis as my psychic power, because I am one lazy-ass motherf*cker.

  15. @Bjornar: “On the one hand I’d like to be able to read minds so I could know how girls are thinking about me. On the other hand I don’t want mind reading because then I’d know how girls were thinking about me.”

    I agree, but I’d also be terrified one of them might know how I was thinking about them. But it would probably be worth the risk.

    smellincoffee: Way to point out I’m a selfish bastard :)

  16. @kd9280: bamf!
    I am having a hard time deciding between telekinesis and teleportation. I posed this question to a friend and we’ve been discussing options. He wants the ability to (at will) turn objects into gold. He posits that he’d be able to buy anything he wanted after that, so having loads of money is basically like having a superpower.
    If we’re talking powers like on Heroes or X-Men, I’d want the power to be able to see something done, and then do it. I would watch Bruce Lee and Tony Jaa movies until I could ninja my way into or out of anything.
    What I’ve noticed here is a lack of anyone wanting the powers of a medium. My friend says this is most likely due to the dead being jerks.
    “Oh yeah, I’m uh…Lincoln. Did you know I ate babies?” Not only that, but everyone would want you to pass along messages to and from their departed loved ones. That overbearing mother you were so happy to finally be parted from? Yeah she’s bossing me around now. Yay.

  17. Teleportation would be fun, but just for the sake of flashiness, I’d like to have electrokinesis, so I could get to my computer no matter where I am, and surf the blogosphere without using a keyboard or monitor… Oh, and being able to throw lightning bolts would be a cool perk too!

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