Last year, Jen wrote about Psychic Kids, an execrable show that tells scared children (who may have undiagnosed medical issues) that they can fix their problems by harnessing their non-existent paranormal powers. We tried a letter-writing campaign to let A&E know how we felt, but apparently our objections weren’t valued more than the ratings, because the show is still on.
And now, one of the expert “psychics” on the show, Chris Fleming, is going to be on stage at Dragon*Con Sunday at 10am in the Sheraton’s Augusta room.
Considering that there will be a few hundred skeptics at Dragon*Con as well, it would be fantastic to make sure Fleming’s panel is well-attended and that the Q&A session has a skeptical slant to it. Please note that this would not be an official SkepTrack event or in any way endorsed by the people running the Skeptrack. Also note that we don’t want to be rude or cause any disturbance! In the past, we’ve had success with this set-up: show up, sit quietly, wait for Q&A, raise hand, politely ask question, converse with other attendees post-panel. Being polite and calm will give us a better opportunity to educate the audience and at least attempt to hold Fleming and others accountable for their actions. Here are a few questions I’d recommend be asked:
Is it responsible to tell children that visions come from psychic powers without educating the public that hallucinations can be be signs of serious illness?
Will Chris Fleming take Randi’s million dollar challenge to prove once and for all that paranormal powers exist?
For an idea of how these questions will be dodged, here’s an interview with Chip Coffey, in which this exchange occurs:
Q: Also lots of parents have commented on this show Psychic Kids. Lots of concerns with children and having mental disorders. Is this something that has been looked into for all children on the show?
I am not at liberty to discuss the mental health of children who have appeared on “Psychic Kids.” But I will say this: those who do not believe in psychic abilities or paranormal phenomena frequently claim and/or assume that individuals who have these experiences are either physically or psychologically impaired. Personally, I do not believe this to be true…at least not in every instance.
That’s a bullshit answer. No one is asking for the medical history of any single child on that show – the question is about whether or not this show is doing due diligence in terms of having children fully evaluated by physicians before filming their pain and using it to generate ad dollars.
The interview also includes this gem:
Q: Why not do the Randi challenge and be done with it?
Because I certainly do not feel the need to prove anything to Mr. Amazing Randi. Or anyone else, for that matter! My goal is to provide a service that my clients consider valuable and meaningful to them. I have conducted thousands of readings for clients and I am proud to say that there have only been a handful of individuals who have been dissatisfied with or disgruntled by the outcome.
Yeah, why bother proving to the entire world that paranormal abilities exist, thereby changing the entire course of human history, encouraging more research and education about psychics, solving more crimes, and donating a cool million dollars to the charity of your choice? What on earth would be the point of doing that?
For those unfamiliar with the show, there are clips on A&E’s site and on YouTube. Here’s one of the less depressing yet still telling clips, in which this exchange occurs between a child “psychic” and a woman:
CHILD: I’m getting that he collected something?
WOMAN: He was an avid bird watcher. He didn’t collect the birds but he kept lists of all the birds that he’s seen.
CHILD: Oh my gosh
WOMAN: It was a little overwhelming to hear all those things because I really wasn’t expecting it to be so specific…
You’re never too young to cold read, are you?
There’s also a Psychic Kids forum, where you can find posts like this, in which a mother says that her 5-year old sees “spirits,” has panic attacks, and won’t sleep in her room or go to the bathroom alone. Instead of going to a doctor, she wants advice from a psychic:
need some answers for my daughter please help!..
i have a daughter that wiill be turning five soon and since she was about a year and a hlaf old she has been seeing spiirits.And i think she can also read what others are thinkiing.Heres the problem for the past year on and off she hasbeen having panic attacks and just recently she will not tell not talk about it at all and will not sleep n her own room or even go to the bathroom by herslef durinf the day or night and if ii ask her what is wrong she said if she tells me they will get mad and hurt her and i always try to reasure her that noone will hurt her but if i put her into any of those sitautions were she would be by herself she screams and crys its very upsetting and everynight is another sleepless night if there is anhone out there that iis psychic and can help me and maybe tell me what i can do to help her or what she is seein g i would be so appreciated this past year has been really trying i dont want her to be afraid anhymore …
So. Yep. Who is going to Dragon*Con, and who wants to do a little skeptical outreach? Here’s the info once more:
Sunday, 10:00 am
Sheraton Augusta Room
Psychic Kids, with Chris Fleming