Friday, February 01, 2008

Debunking Psychics . . . Almost

The BBC show Watchdog did an episode on debunking psychics who are robbing millions of people with false claims of psychic skills. A worthy effort. However, the show raised the ire of the New Humanist blog by throwing in a qualifier: "Of course, there are genuine psychics out there as well."

What? Did the presenter of the BBC's flagship consumer awareness programme just suggest that it's possible to find real psychics with real psychic powers who can provide you with real information?

On this week's edition, the presenters backtracked slightly in response to letters questioning Bradbury's bizarre statement. Co-presenter Nicky Campbell declared that "proving the authenticity or otherwise of all psychics is slightly outside our area of expertise, but it seems to us that there is a big difference between someone who reads your tea leaves at the village fĂȘte and someone ... who tries to snaffle hundreds of pounds so she can 'fix your aura'."

Well, you can kind of see their point I suppose, but only if these innocent village fĂȘte "psychics" are only selling their "services" as a bit of fun, and a bit of fun for charity at that. They're clearly not as bad as those involved in mega-scams, but there's still plenty of people raking in small sums at a time by claiming various supernatural abilities. You only have to take a stroll along Brighton seafront in summer to see those people in action and, in my books, they're still involved in scams.

I think this is an apples and oranges thing. A person with "real" psychic skills (and for the record, I do think there are such people) would probably not be bilking people for tons of dollars -- and those who are likely don't have any psychic skills.

There's a BIG difference between a scam business and an intuitive individual -- to say that all psychic skills are bunk because some people run these scams is a huge -- and misguided -- leap in logic.

Anyway, here is the video of the show.

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