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The online psychic industry is a seemingly bottomless collection of clairvoyants, tarot card readers, psychic healers, and other people in purple outfits. Like its predecessor, the psychic telephone hotline, and its contemporary, the “internet modeling” industry (which involves less clothing and more talking than the more traditional modeling industry), online psychics typically charge several dollars a minute for personal encounters, with some charging as much as $200 for a 30-minute session, making seeing a psychic often as expensive as seeing a therapist.
Those who doubt the existence of psychic abilities point to the fact that clairvoyance would go against everything we know about science. But the vagueness of psychic powers poses a real problem when someone offers them for a price: when a psychic’s service cannot be pegged down by science, the practitioner can claim to do nearly anything… including curing cancer, ending suicidal depression, or bringing a lover back who is long, long gone. In fact, I once had a psychic tell me that my newly-ended four year relationship was “not over yet.” Fortunately for me and my ex, she was wrong.
But what happens when someone goes to a psychic for something really serious? I visited one of the most popular live-psychic sites on the internet, Oranum, and spent five hours speaking to thirteen of their psychics. Knowing I would never again have the patience for such a venture, I picked the boldest claim I could think of: I told each psychic that I had serious, life-threatening cancer. At first, that was all the information they got. But if asked, I was prepared with a back story: It was stage 3 ovarian cancer, and among other treatments, my doctor wanted to me undergo chemotherapy. I instead preferred, I said, “to find a spiritual solution.”
How many of the psychics would offer to help me skip medicine in favor of psychic healing?
The first psychic I spoke to said that she could not tell me to stop seeing my doctor. “That’s against the law, okay?” she said, looking directly in the camera, at me and the others who were tuned into her “channel.” We were all typing in a group, trying to grab her attention, but the word “cancer” had apparently won. Someone else in the group thought she was talking to them anyway.
“Why are you talking about cancer? Oh my god, do I have cancer?!” they asked.
I quickly left, satisfied that this psychic had refused to endorse my choice not to get real treatment from a real doctor.
The second psychic, a young woman with only two other people in her chat room, was eager to . . .
By Benjamin Radford via LiveScience
Amazing coincidences happen all the time — but are they simply the product of random chance, or do they convey some hidden meaning? The answer may depend on whether you believe in synchronicity.
The term synchronicity was coined by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung (1875-1961). Jung had a strong belief in a wide variety of paranormal phenomenon, including psychic powers, astrology, alchemy, predictive dreams, UFOs and telekinesis (moving objects with the mind). He was also obsessed with numerology — the belief that certain numbers have special cosmic significance, and can predict important life events.
Jung’s concept of synchronicity is complicated and poorly defined, but can be boiled down to describing “meaningful coincidences.” The concept of synchronicity came to Jung during a period of mental illness in the early 1900s. Jung became convinced that everything in the universe is intimately connected, and that suggested to him that there must exist a collective unconscious of humankind. This implied to him that events happening all over the world at the same time must be connected in some unknown way.
In his book “137: Jung, Pauli, and the Pursuit of a Scientific Obsession,” Arthur I. Miller gives an example of synchronicity; one of his patients “told Jung that when her mother and grandmother died, on each occasion a flock of birds gathered outside the window of the room.” The woman’s husband, who had symptoms of heart problems, went out to see a doctor and “on his way back the man collapsed in the street. Shortly after he had set off to see the specialist a large flock of birds had alighted on the house. His wife immediately recognized this as a sign of her husband’s impending death.”
Is synchronicity real?
There is, of course, a more prosaic explanation for curious coincidence: birds are very common, and simply by random chance a flock will appear near people who are soon to die — just as they appear daily around millions of people who are not soon to die.
The appearance of synchronicity is the result of a well-known psychological phenomenon called confirmation bias (sometimes described as remembering the hits and forgetting the misses); we much more easily notice and remember things that confirm our beliefs than those that do not. The human brain is very good at making connections and seeing designs in ambiguous stimuli and random patterns.
If Jung’s patient came to believe that a flock of birds meant that death was imminent, she would start noticing flocks of birds, and remember the times when they coincided with a loved one’s death. But she would not likely notice or remember the countless times when flocks of birds appeared over people who lived for years or decades longer. Put another way, a person dying when a flock of birds is present is an event; a person not dying when a flock of birds is present is a non-event, and therefore not something anyone pays attention to. This is the result of normal human perceptual and memory biases, not some mysterious cosmic synchronicity.
It’s easy to see why synchronicity has mass appeal; it provides meaning and order in an otherwise random universe. One famous (and more modern) example of synchronicity is . . .
Everyone likes a good paranormal tale. However, often the really interesting stories are not about ghosts and UFOs—they’re about the people who run after them with a notebook in hand.
The world is full of tireless paranormal researchers who spend countless hours in a never-ending attempt to understand the incomprehensible and find the truth behind the legends. These are their stories.
10 • William Hope And Spirit Photography
William Hope (1866-1936) was a famous British medium and paranormal researcher. He gained fame with his amazing “spirit photography,” a seemingly uncanny ability to capture the images of ghosts and spirits on camera. Although this technology is commonplace today (and, more often than not, known as “photoshopping”), Hope was the first man to produce these type of images. As such, his popularity as a medium exploded.
Hope took many precautions with the plate cameras he used in order to rule out any possibility of fraud. However, this itself turned out to be a scam. In reality, the complicated rules he claimed to follow were little more than smoke and mirrors. Hope’s pictures were actually the product of skillful photo manipulation and advanced superimposing techniques. Still, although we can’t respect him as the herald of the supernatural world he liked to present himself as, we can at least give him a nod for his work as a pioneering photography artist.
9 • Independent Investigations Group
The Independent Investigations Group—or IIG for short—is a famous paranormal research organization that was founded in Hollywood, California in 2000, but now operates across America. They’re the largest and best known group of their kind in the US, and their founder, Jim Underdown, is a common sight at panels and discussions around the country.
IIC takes a decidedly skeptical stance in its investigations, but it always strives to give its subjects a fair chance to prove their mystical powers. They have an ongoing offer to pay a large cash prize to anyone who can demonstrate scientifically verifiable paranormal abilities. The sum was originally $50,000, but was recently bumped up to $100,000, possibly thanks to their collaboration with the James Randi Foundation, another famous skeptic organization.
Be warned, though: It’s not easy money. The video above shows the IIC investigating Anita Ikonen, who had claimed to have the power of “medical dowsing” (in this case, telling if someone is missing an internal organ).
It didn’t go well for her.
8 • EMF Meters
EMF (electromagnetic field) meters are one of the most common tools in the working kit of a ghost hunter. There is some confusion as to why they are so important. Some say it’s because ghosts actually emit electromagnetic radiation, others claim they merely disturb the area’s existing electromagnetic field. It doesn’t really matter which of the theories is true—either way, the ghost hunting community often accepts the idea that ghosts and other spirits can be detected with an EMF meter.
Obviously, the use of the device presents many problems. No one really knows how to interpret the readings—whether or not ghosts are right behind them. Certain researchers have even speculated that EMF anomalies might actually cause hauntings, rather than the other way around.
Some of the more enthusiastic paranormal researchers find their way around the problem by creating complicated sets of fine-tuning instructions for their EMF meters. However, it’s pretty safe to assume that most researchers just carry their meters around and if the needle starts moving, grab their cameras and hope for the best.
7 • Viktor Grebennikov
Viktor Grebennikov was a Soviet scientist and naturalist with a very strange interest in supernatural—or, rather, supremely natural—methods of transport. Grebennikov’s day job was as an entymologist (insect researcher), but he liked to dabble in the paranormal. Before his death in 2001, he had amassed a large amount of research on the art of levitation, and even claimed to have built a platform able to levitate a fully-grown man.
Grebennikov’s alleged levitation techniques were based on a specific, arcane geometrical structure he claimed he had built from insect parts. This bug machine was supposedly able to lift him for over 305 meters (1,000 ft) and could easily reach speeds of over 25 kilometers (15.5 mi) per minute. He was protected from these high speeds by an energy grid all around him.
Well, that’s his story anyway. When you actually look at the video material he left behind, it looks a lot like the few bug parts he’s able to move without touching them only do so because he’s creating static electricity by rubbing the surface under them.
6 • Ovilus
The Ovilus is a “ghost box” that has gained notoriety among paranormal investigators in recent years. It’s essentially the ghost hunter’s equivalent of a text-to-speech program. The Ovilus detects the subtle changes ghosts, demons, and other incorporeal entities make in their surroundings, and converts these messages into spoken words. It’s a dowsing rod, EMF meter, and a recording device, all in one machine. Ovilus III, the most recent model, is said to have a vocabulary of 2,000 words, along with a thermal flashlight, multiple operating modes, a recording function, and other neat extras.
As amazing as the Ovilus would be if it really worked, at least one reviewer is certain that the product is actually a fraud. Although it does have all the sensors and functions that it claims to, they do nothing to detect—let alone communicate with—ghosts. The Ovilus merely scans your environment and, when the conditions are right, the machine gives you a preset speech response from its memory.
Australian survey finds people can reliably detect a change in surroundings, even if they cannot accurately describe it
If you can eerily detect the presence of unseen people or have prescient knowledge of danger, it may be disappointing to learn that scientists have ruled out the existence of a “sixth sense”.
A year-long University of Melbourne study, published in the journal Plos One, found that people could reliably detect a change in their surroundings, even if they could not accurately describe what that change was.
However, the research concluded that this was not due to any kind of supernatural ability, but rather from cues picked up from more conventional senses such as sight.
Researchers presented pairs of photos of a woman to 48 different people. In some cases, the appearance of the woman in one of the pictures would be different – such as a different hairstyle or the presence of glasses.
The pictures were shown to the subjects for 1.5 seconds with a one-second break between them. The people were then asked whether a change had occurred and, if so, to pick the change from a list of nine possibilities.
The results showed that while the subjects could “sense” a change had occurred, they could not verbalise what it was. While this confirmed to some subjects that they possessed a sixth sense, or extrasensory perception, researchers said it showed there was no such ability.
“What people were doing was processing information that they couldn’t verbalise but were picking up on, often subconsciously,” Dr Piers Howe from the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences told Guardian Australia. “It’s a bit like an abstract painting – it doesn’t depict anything you can label, such as a sea or mountain, but you can still get a lot of information on what’s going on.
“The information was enough to tell them that a change had occurred, because they could tell the picture was more crowded, but not enough to say what that change was. Many believed they had a quasi-magical ability even though we had set them up.”
Scientists at the PEAR laboratories noticed something odd during their work with coincidence: Some humans seemed to influence random numbers with nothing but their thoughts. Could this be pseudoscience, or a scientific breakthrough?
Party Like It’s A Nuclear War !!!
By Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)
Who is old enough to remember Y2K? I remember it well (translation: i’m old).
Y2K is an acronym for “Year 2000,” or, as it was also known – “The Year 2000 problem, the Y2K problem, the Millennium bug, the Y2K bug, or simply Y2K.” (source) It was the moment when the clocks struck 12:00 AM on Janury 1, 2000 and how it might affect every aspect of our lives. Why?
The year 2000 was a problem for many computers because many computer programs stored years using only the last two digits of the year; for example, 1980 was stored as “80″, the year 1999 was stored as “99″ and the year 2000 would be stored as “00″.
Do you see the problem? Not only did such systems view the year 2000 as “00″, but they also viewed the year 1900 as “00″. Imagine what would happen to half your programs if your computer suddenly thought the current year (2013) was actually the year 1913. Your calendar program, your watch, your smart phone and many other programs we rely on would suddenly be all wacked out. Imagine what would happen to the banking system if this glitch occurred. Would you be able to access your money? Would all your checks suddenly bounce? (On the other hand, maybe the banks would suddenly give us 100 years of accrued interest. But i digress …)
Now imagine if such a glitch were to occur in bigger systems like nuclear electric plants and nuclear weapons? What might go wrong? This is what had a lot of people in a near state of panic.
Would telephone systems shutdown? Would the electric grid turn off across the country – plunging all of us into darkness for an indeterminant amount of time? Would trains run on schedule? Would the air traffic control system lose control? Would our nuclear arsenal behave in some unpredicted manner and cause WWIII? Would the nuclear arsenal in some other country malfunction and bomb us?
It seemed nobody knew for sure what would – or would not – happen. People were concerned and scared.
Enter my favorite moron – Alex Jones.
On New Year’s Eve 1999, the night the clocks were due to change over to the year 2000, The Alex Jones show engaged in some of the most negligent, egregious and irresponsible scare mongering ever. I don’t know of a worse case than this.
In the 3 hours Jones was on the air, he made every conceivable claim of catastrophe imaginable. He took everything people were fearing about Y2K and he claimed those fears were materializing. Everything from cash machines failing, nuclear power plants shutting down, concentration camps (with shackles) being readied, empty grocery store shelves, gas stations out of gas, Martial Law declared, the military serving search warrants in 77 Texas counties – to an actual nuclear missile attack!!!!!!!!
And did any of this actually occur? No. None of it. People were so frightened they reportedly headed for the hills (literally) and got physically sick.
What you are about to hear is approximately 30 minutes of the Alex Jones Show audio from that night. This audio from the Alex Jones Show was part of a radio show broadcast by William (Bill) Cooper on approximately January 4, 2000. Bill Cooper himself was a conspiracy theorist, but even he was disgusted by the antics of Alex Jones and he called him out.
Bill Cooper’s original broadcast was 3 hours long. In the Alex Jones recording i present below, except for the opening 30 seconds, i have edited out all of Bill Cooper’s narratives so you can hear Alex Jones uninterrupted in all his despicable glory.
As i was going through the audio, i noticed breaks in the Alex Jones audio that i assume were done by Bill Cooper’s editing team in preparation for broadcast. Where ever i believed there was an edit i added a half-second “beep” sound. This is to help avoid confusion as the conversation would sometimes abruptly change topics. So listen for the beeps (you can’t miss them).
Below the audio you will find a complete transcript of notes i made of what to expect in the audio. This will help you follow along. Where ever you see the word “Regurgitation,” that is my own shorthand to indicate it is a previously mentioned point being repeated by Jones – a tactic he uses to give the impression he has a pile of information. Any words [inside brackets] are commentaries i made for myself.
Believe me, this is an audio clip Alex Jones wishes would go away.
Mason I. Bilderberg.
P.S. If anybody knows where i can find a copy of the full 3 hour Alex Jones Show from 12/31/1999 please let me know.
P.P.S. I apologize in advance for any spelling errors.
Alex Jones Y2K (30 minutes):
- 0:00 Bill Cooper sets up the scene.
- 0:27 Cash machines are failing in Britain and other European countries
- 0:32 Finding large amounts of explosives in France
- 1:03 More wars then in the last 50 years is going on right now
1:07 The war in chechnya is raging with hundreds of thousands dying
- 1:13 20,000 to 40,000 civilians trapped in the city [presumably chechnya]
- 1:16 Russian Hinds (Helicopter) are being shot down, tanks are being blown to bits
- 1:20 Massive Grad unguided rocket attacks are being launched from the city
- 1:26 Air and artillery bombardments [presumably chechnya]
- 1:39 Pennsylvania nuclear plant (Limerick Generating Station) has been shut down [implied because of Y2K-related problems. Not true. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) findings are contained in the image, below]
- 1:49 The shelves (In TX) are empty of water and gas stations are running out of fuel
- 1:50 In Minneapolis and Texas the shortwave (radio) is down
- 2:50 The Pennsylvania nuclear plant and (now) 4 other nuclear plants were having Y2K-related problems [See 3:04 mark]
- 3:12 The government in Washington D.C. has set up a $50M command bunker that is hooked into FEMA and they can take over all the shortwave (radio), AM/FM radio stations and all television and other broadcast stations
- 3:34 The police and military [presumably nationwide] are on high alert
- 3:41 The military are highly visible [presumably in the streets]
- 3:45 Trains of military equipment moving into Austin, TX
- 3:53 The airport (Robert Mueller Airport) will be used as a massive holding facility [ala concentration camps]
- 4:03 Vladimir Putin is a demon
4:12 Now 6 to 7 (nuclear) reactors having Y2K related problems [Not true]
- 4:50 Globalist Forces are gearing up to clamp down on America, Russia and the world
- 5:08 America is gearing up and bracing for terrorism and militarizing everything in front of us.
- 5:19 The Russians have deployed Topol-M “first strike” missiles across Russia while (Boris) Yeltsin (Russian President) has been openly threatening to nuke us [See the 5:44 mark].
- 6:00 They (Russia) have deployed their missiles and submarines against us (America).
- 6:09 Vladimir Putin, who just took over as Russian President, has “taken the codes off” Russia’s nuclear arsenal. (The Russian nuclear arsenal no longer requires a secret code to initiate a nuclear missile attack on America.)
- 6:25 Discussing America being hit with a nuclear first-strike and the ensuing annihilation.
- 7:27 Regurgitation: Pennsylvania Electric Company (PECO), Limerick Generating Station (here and here) was shutdown [presumably because of Y2K-related problems. Not true. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) findings are contained in the image, below].
- 7:38 Doesn’t challenge a caller paraphrasing (Colonel) Bo Gritz who said, that Russia said, if their (Russia) power goes out they will blame us and they (Russia) would set off their nuclear arsenal.
- 8:01 The Russians are threatening to nuke us every, single week.
- 8:25 Currencies around the world are plunging
- 8:39 Gas stations in America are out of gas
- 8:58 American’s are standing up as Russia threatens to attack us with nuclear weapons
- 9:02 Nuclear power plants are being shutdown
- 9:07 The military is “running around” with the police and the FBI saying terrorism is imminent [the takeover is beginning]
- 9:25 “They” have activated a powerful, cold war, radar system in the north pole region [presumably to keep an eye out for a Russian ICBM attack] that is affecting shortwave (radio)
- 9:46 Military traffic is EVERYWHERE
- 9:52 Regurgitation: Super power, cold war radar systems (presumably to keep an eye out for a Russian ICBM attack) and nuclear systems are up.
- 10:07 Fresno (California?) is blacked out, he (Jones) is off the internet
- 10:25 [Scare tactic, Survivalist Commercial]
- 11:03 “America is under siege right now.”
- 11:14 Regurgitation: Pennsylvania nuclear power plant shutdown
- 11:33 Egypt is having a run on the banks
- 11:45 Regurgitation: The power in Fresno (California?) is down, he is off the internet
- 11:50 Regurgitation: Cash machines and ATMs in Europe are having problems
- 12:03 Martial Law signs are posted on highway 65 in Arkansas by the Arkansas Transportation Department
- 12:52 Regurgitation: In Austin, TX they have announced it is a concentration camp at Robert Mueller Airport
- 13:09 At Fort Hood giant, long lines of trains with flat cars loaded with APCs (Armored Personnel Carriers) and LAVs (Light Armored Vehicles)
- 13:33 They (Fort Hood) have flat bed trailers, large cattle trailer-types (think concentration camps)
- 14:17 A power plant in michigan is prepared to shutdown when “given the order.”
- 15:01 If you don’t have a supply of potassium iodide, now is the time to get your supply of potassium iodide in case of a russian nuclear attack.
- 15:18 Regurgitation: The Russians have been publicly threatening to nuke us and they’ve been deploying their missiles against us.
- 15:33 We will not survive a nuclear first strike
- 15:58 Regurgitation: Austin (TX) is out of water and gas
- 16:03 Regurgitation: The city of Fresno (California?) is blacked out
- 16:18 Russia and China are now threatening to nuke us
- 16:42 Discussing how the Russians have been building the biggest bunker ever known to man
- 17:16 Our (America’s) designated nuclear fallout shelters are parking garages so “they” can move in later to pull out all the rotten skeletons after “they” emerge from “their” shelters.
- 17:57 Regurgitation: Pennsylvania nuclear power plant shutdown
- 18:12 Regurgitation: Nuclear power plant problems in PA (Pennsylvania), shutdowns (?), power outages in Fresno (California?)
- 18:40 Regurgitation: Russia and China have been threatening to nuke us.
- 18:58 Regurgitation: The Russians deployed their Topol-M “first strike” missiles 2.5 weeks ago.
- 19:09 The head of the Russian missiles systems, a top general, has been threatening to nuke us and he reserves first strike authority to attack us – even though they have no reason to attack us.
- 19:25 A power plant has been blown up in Oregon [Not true]
- 19:36 “Clinton has pulled it.” (????)
20:26 Massive Y2K problems being reported across the globe.
- 20:55 Regurgitation: In Austin, TX Robert Mueller Airport, the local news was showing off the “detainment facilities.” [i.e. concentration camps]
- 21:15 The local news showed the barbed wired fences inside the Robert Mueller Airport facility.
- 21:18 There are “shackles on the ground, concreted into the ground” at Robert Mueller Airport – like a slave galley.
- 21:42 New Zealand is having power outages
- 21:57 Regurgitation: Pennsylvania nuclear power plant shutdown
- 22:33 Regurgitation: Vladimir Putin threatens to nuke us
- 22:50 Regurgitation: Pennsylvania nuclear power plant shutdown
- 22:55 The power is off in 8 different areas across the country
- 22:58 A lot of cable systems aren’t working
- 23:01 Satellites are down
- 23:09 “Minor fault (???) struck two nuclear power plants in Japan just seconds after the clock ticked into 2000 …”
- 23:25 Anybody near a nuclear power plant should pack up and go someplace else.
- 23:37 The store shelves are bare in Austin, TX.
- 23:43 Regurgitation: Gas is running out.
- 23:44 They’re announcing on the news that, “if you’re bad they’re going to put you in a … they’re going to bolt you to a pipe coming out of the ground at the airport (Robert Mueller Airport) in some cold hangar.”
- 24:04 “The military is serving search warrants now in 77 Texas counties.”
- 24:08 Regurgitation: “We got nuclear power plants shutting down.”
- 24:20 Regurgitation: The Russians are threatening to nuke us RIGHT NOW.
- 24:40 Regurgitation: “Well, they got the Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) and LAVs (Light Armored Vehicles) loading on the flat cars out of Fort Hood.”
- 25:06 There are currently nuclear missiles being launched.
- 25:15 ABC (news) just had a special news bulletin – a military General standing in front of Cheyenne Mountain (nuclear bunker) announced 5 nuclear missiles have been launched.
- 25:44 The general refused to say what kind of missiles, where they were coming from or where they were going.
- 25:58 This secrecy is just like when the special operations training that was conducted with the Russians in south TX when they burned buildings and laying siege to towns [never happend]
- 26:44 Jones’ co-host: “You elect me to president and i will nuke them (Russians) first, i’ll push the button as soon as i take the oath … i’m opening up that football and start launching, man.”
- 26:55 Regurgitation: The Russians have been threatening to nuke us, they reserve the first strike right to hit us for no reason and Clinton said he will absorb the first strike by the Russians.
- 27:06 Jones’ co-host: Hopes one of those 5 incoming nuclear missiles is headed towards Clinton.
- 27:12 Regurgitation: a military General standing in front of Cheyenne Mountain (nuclear bunker) announced 5 nuclear missiles have been launched.
- 27:39 Jones complains that the television network went to a commercial break after announcing 5 nuclear missiles have been launched.
- 27:53 A NORAD commander was on the news. “Space Command” (Air Force Space Command) is now running everything.
- 28:20 The perceived enemy is “obviously” the American people.
- 28:36 Regurgitation: It’s on ABC news that 5 nuclear missiles have been launched.
- 28:57 The night before (12/30/99), anything and everything on the flight line at Selfridge Air National Guard Base was put into the air and was constantly in the air. [i.e. The U.S. is preparing for a nuclear attack]
- 29:11 Regurgitation: Super power, cold war radar systems [presumably to keep an eye out for a Russian ICBM attack] are turned on.
- 29:21 The Russians are not the only ones we need to be concerned about … we should worry about the Chinese too.
- 20:24 We also need to be worried about Germany.
- 29:58 Regurgitation: It’s on ABC news that 5 nuclear missiles have been launched.
- 30:03 Regurgitation: a military General standing in front of Cheyenne Mountain (nuclear bunker) announced 5 nuclear missiles have been launched.
- 30:25 Jones complains, “we’re calmly sitting here knowing nuclear missiles could be about to rain down!”
- 30:42 Discussing “Who launched?” Was it the U.S., a ballistics submarine? . . .
- 30:54 Jones’ co-host: “No offense, but I hope it was us who launched.”
- 31:19 Vladimir Putin is the Fuhrer.
In a trifecta of pseudoscience, Dr. Oz calls upon Dr. Amen to demonstrate (live on TV) how the Long Island Medium is real.
Where do I begin?
Dr. Oz has long ago abandoned any scientific legitimacy, not to mention self-respect. He has gone from giving basic medical advice, to promoting alternative quackery, and now he is just another daytime TV sellout, gushing over psychics. With Dr. Oz, however, it is all done with a patina of science.
Theresa Caputo is just another fake psychic doing bad cold readings before audiences that have more of a desire to believe than apparent critical thinking skills. Her performance on Dr. Oz is fairly typical – she fishes with vague and high probability guesses, working multiple people at once, who then struggle to find some connection to what she is saying.
For example, she tells one mark who is trying to connect with her father, “Your father wants to talk about the coin collection?” This is a great vague statement. First, it is one of those statements that seems very specific, but in actuality is a high probability vague statement. Anything to do with coins can seem to be a hit, and in the fairly good chance that an older gentleman had a literal coin collection it will seem like a fantastic hit.
In this case, however, the target found a nice face-saving hit. Apparently another psychic told the same person that her father sends her “pennies from heaven.” There you go.
In another segment with Caputo she demonstrates almost a parody of terrible cold reading. She senses a father figure and a daughter figure. She says to an entire audience that someone lost a father and someone lost a daughter. She also goes out on a limb and says – something to do with the chest. Shockingly, someone from the audience steps forward. Caputo then makes two clear misses. She says that she senses the person was lost suddenly. The target clearly indicates this was not the case, at which time Caputo tries to recover by saying that – even when someone is ill, we did not expect to lose them at that exact moment. Right. She then goes for the daughter, which is also a clear miss, leading to that awkward moment when an alleged psychic so thoroughly fails that they struggle to find an escape hatch.
I also found it interesting that when asked about the brain scan test she was about to have, Caputo responded by saying that no matter what the tests show, she just wants to help people. She was seemingly pre-rationalizing for possible failure. Infer from that what you will.
Dr. Daniel Amen
Dr. Amen as made millions of dollars proving SPECT scans for a long list of diagnoses. SPECT scans use a radioisotope to track blood flow in the brain, which can be used to infer brain activity. The problem with SPECT scan is that there is a tremendous amount of noise in brain activity so you need to be very careful about interpreting the results. There is some utility in looking for dead areas of the brain following a stroke, for example. SPECT has also been used to localize seizures (increased activity during a seizure and then decreased activity following the seizure).
Clinical use of SPECT, however, has been very limited because it is just too noisy. The test often does not have good specificity. Amen is using SPECT for a wide range of indications for which it has not been validated – we do not have data to show that the results of the test can be used to predict confirming diagnostic tests or response to treatment. But SPECT is very useful for generating pretty pictures that seem scientific and can be used to imagine any result you wish.
- Brain Scans and Psychics (theness.com)
- Dr. Oz. Performs LIVE Brain Scan On Medium Theresa Caputo & Turns From A Skeptic Into 100% Believer (feelguide.com)
- Brain Scans and Psychics (skepticblog.org)
- Loving my Inner Child (amomentwithgod.com)
- Gluten, psychology, and your brain. (thehybridhuman.wordpress.com)
- My first psychic reading (besttarotcardreader.wordpress.com)
During the Cold War, the Soviet scientists vied with the US to understand mind control, remote viewing and non-local physics, according to a new review of unconventional research in the USSR
During the Cold War, the US and the Soviet Union battled on many fronts to demonstrate their superior technical and scientific achievements. Some of these battles are well known and well documented, such as the race to put a human in space and then on the Moon.
Others are much less well known. One of these battlefronts was in unconventional research—parapsychology (or psychotronics as the Soviets called it), mind control and remote influence and the such like. Some of the US work on these topics is now public and has famously become the basis for various books, TV documentaries and for the Hollywood film “The Men Who Stare at Goats”.
But much less is known about the Soviet equivalents. Today that changes thanks to the work of Serge Kernbach at the Research Center of Advanced Robotics and Environmental Science in Stuttgart, Germany. Kernbach provides an overview of Soviet efforts in unconventional research between 1917 and 2003 based on publications in Russian technical journals and recently declassified documents.
He shows how Soviet research evolved more or less independently of work in the western world but focused on many of the same unconventional themes as secret US programs. And he shows how the Soviets and the Americans used what little they knew of each other’s work to create a self-sustaining cycle of funding. This psychotronic arms race cost as much as $1 billion and only ended in the early 21st century when the funding bubble burst.
Kernbach begins by pointing out that research in the USSR could only be done with government support, unlike research in the west which could be privately funded. So the Soviets had a considerable bureaucracy to manage unconventional research and to fund it, albeit with a certain cyclical character as it fell in and out of favour.
Over the years, the Soviets focused on a number of areas, many of which mirrored US efforts. For example, the US Project MKULTRA, was a 20-year CIA program that studied ways of manipulating people’s minds and altering their brain function.
The Soviets had a similar program. This included experiments in parapsychology, which the Soviets called psychotronics. The work built on a long-standing idea in Soviet science that the human brain could receive and transmit a certain kind of high frequency electromagnetic radiation and that this could influence other objects too.
Various researchers reported that this “human energy” could change the magnetisation of hydrogen nuclei and stimulate the immune systems of wheat, vine and even humans. They even developed a device called a “cerpan” that could generate and store this energy.
Another year has come and gone, and with it, a slew of failed and forgotten psychic predictions. Each year, the world’s “leading” psychics give us their predictions in January, and then we review them one year later to see how accurate they were.
Before reviewing their track record for 2013, let’s consider a handful of significant news items that were not predicted.
What the world’s leading psychics didn’t predict for 2013:
- The surprising resignation of Pope Benedict XVI…
- The revelation of PRISM and the NSA spying scandal revealed by Ed Snowden, which is still arguably one of the biggest news stories of the year…
- The meteor which exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, injuring 1,491 people and damaging over 4,300 buildings. It was the most powerful meteor to strike Earth’s atmosphere in over a century…
- The Boston Marathon bombings…
- Typhoon Haiyan “Yolanda”, one of the strongest tropical cyclones on record, which hit the Philippines and Vietnam, causing devastation with at least 5,653 dead…
- Iran agreeing to limit their nuclear development program in exchange for sanctions relief…
- William and Kate’s royal baby – a boy, named Prince George… (more details below)…
- The Bronx train derailment…
- The Rob Ford crack cocaine scandal, which was on just about every North American TV network…
- The recovery of Amanda Berry, who was a 16-year-old girl when she went missing in 2003, and was rescued from an unassuming house in Cleveland. She was held captive for a decade. High-profile psychic (Sylvia Browne) told Berry’s mother in 2004 that she was dead.
- Speaking of Sylvia Browne, she incorrectly predicted her own death. She thought she’d make it to 88, but died at 77.
- A number of high profile deaths: Ed Koch, Hugo Chavez, Margaret Thatcher, Roger Ebert, Tom Clancy, Lou Reed, James Gandolfini, Cory Monteith, Jean Stapleton, Lisa Robin Kelly, Paul Walker, Nelson Mandela…
And that’s just a sample of the things psychics forgot to predict. Now let’s look at how well they fared for the things they did… *
What the world’s leading psychics predicted for 2013:
Predicted: A fire and explosion at a subway in New York City kills many.
Accuracy: There was a fire, but no explosion, and no one was hurt. It was just really annoying for commuters.
Predicted: A chemical attack on the United States.
Accuracy: Thanksfully, this did not happen.
Predicted: Another cruise ship breaks in half. (Nice try here, but nope, didn’t happen.
Predicted: Another Super Storm like Sandy hitting the USA, Canada and Europe.
Accuracy: Did not happen. It would have been one helluva storm to hit both North America and Europe!
Predicted: Nuclear attack on New York.
Accuracy: Also, thankfully, this didn’t happen.
Predicted: A huge earthquake in the Caribbean.
Accuracy: Swing and a miss.
Predicted: Cuba and Puerto Rico becoming part of the USA.
Accuracy: Anyone know of another way of saying “didn’t happen”?
Predicted: A weather satellite will come crashing into a building.
Accuracy: A satellite did come down to Earth, but we’re not quite sure where it landed. Certainly not into a building.
Predicted: A huge earthquake in St. Louis, Missouri, Chicago and Tennessee.
Predicted: The map of the world will change due to catastrophic events happening around the globe.
Accuracy: The map of the world looks the same.
Predicted: Experimental monkeys escape from a lab causing a pandemic.
Accuracy: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, perhaps? Oh wait, that movie came out in 2011.
Predicted: Giant prehistoric sea monsters under the sea.
Accuracy: Now, I wish this one panned out. The Kraken, Godzilla, or maybe C’thulu would have been pretty neat. Alas, no sea monsters in 2013. But the Godzilla reboot is due out in 2014 – does that count?
Predicted: A possible landing of a spaceship.
Accuracy: Made by humans or ET? Landing on Earth, or elsewhere?
Predicted: An attack on the Vatican and Pope.
Accuracy: Didn’t happen.
Predicted: Daniel Day Lewis nominated for an Oscar for Lincoln.
Accuracy: This was pretty obvious, so this doesn’t count as a hit.
Predicted: Jack Nicholson hospitalized.
Accuracy: He wasn’t, however the actor who played the doctor in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest died…
Predicted: Another sex scandal around Arnold Schwarzenegger and has to watch his health.
Accuracy: Just part of the ongoing scandal, but nothing that would qualify as another (separate) sex scandal.
Predicted: An earthquake of great magnitude wiping out Mexico City.
Accuracy: Did not…
Predicted: Giant tornadoes in Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, California, Missouri, and Tennessee.
Accuracy: Like any year, many tornadoes – some “giant” – hit Tornado Alley. 2013 would be no different, so this is a non-prediction.
Predicted: An assassination attempt around Queen Elizabeth.
Accuracy: Unless if this was covered up, this didn’t happen.
- Psychic (iLLumiNuTTi.com)
- The Death of Sylvia Browne (illuminutti.com)
- The Late ‘Psychic’ Sylvia Browne Made 14 Final Predictions. All Are Wrong. (patheos.com)
- 2013 Psychic Predictions: Same old same old, as usual – FAIL (doubtfulnews.com)
- Sylvia Browne: Dead Psychic’s Legacy Riddled With Failed Predictions, Fraud – Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com)
James Van Praagh and the Afterlife
by Ingrid Hansen Smythe via skeptic.com
There are a number of different methods of exposing an individual as a liar and a charlatan. One way is to engage the person directly in their self-professed area of expertise and then judge their performance. You might employ an alleged brain surgeon, for example, and pay that person to perform brain surgery on you—and if the surgeon uses a cork screw and salad tongs, and the operation turns into something akin to an autopsy or a dinner party at the Todd’s (Sweeney, that is), you’ve got fairly good evidence against the so-called expert. Alternatively, you could spare yourself the agony of direct engagement and read the published papers of the brain surgeon in question. If the papers are full of contradictions, wild inaccuracies and obvious fictions—if the surgeon believes that the hippocampus is an actual college, for example, or that olfactory bulbs are planted in the spring, or the ventral horn is a member of the brass section—again you have solid evidence that the brain surgeon hasn’t a clue and is not actually all that interested in the contents of your skull but, rather, in the contents of your wallet.
In his brilliant exposé of James Van Praagh, author Miklos Jako uses the first method and actually pays the renowned medium $700 for a reading. (Watch the reading with Jako’s editorial.) In tallying up the hits (12) and misses (64), Jako calculates a success rate of 16 percent. This is remarkably low, even for a cold reading, and Jako might have gotten a higher success rate had he engaged Bubbles the chimp. Worse yet, Jako actually feeds Van Praagh a lie about his father being involved in a drunk driving accident, and Van Praagh falls for it hook, line, and sinker. “He keeps going on about how he was very sorry it hurt you,” says Van Praagh. “He knows he embarrassed you on several occasions. He’s ashamed of that. He’s ashamed. He’s sorry, he’s ashamed of that. And please don’t think of him that way.” Jako’s outrage is palpable at this point, and it’s tough for him to remain composed. “My father never embarrassed me,” he says firmly. “Never.” Based on the evidence, Jako goes on to add his dead-on-the-mark assessment of the great psychic. “James Van Praagh,” he says, “you’re full of shit.” This sums things up nicely, I think.
You’d imagine that this masterful unveiling would settle the matter once and for all—but no. The critic can always assert that the old brain tumour was acting up again and that Van Praagh was simply “off” on that particular day, or that he was subconsciously stifled by Jako’s Kryptonite-like skepticism, or that an alleged error was just a silly misunderstanding, or that the spirits were being deliberately impish and uncooperative. None of this is Van Praagh’s fault. Thus, even when a medium is wrong more often than right, support continues or even increases.1
Unlike Miklos Jako then, my approach is to use the second method, examining the writings of Mr. Van Praagh in detail to see if I can detect anything that confirms Jako’s assessment. I’ll be analyzing his book Growing Up in Heaven, Van Praagh’s singular study of the afterlife as it relates, specifically, to the deaths of children. In it, Van Praagh shares his actual conversations with dead children, his interactions with the grieving parents, his philosophical intuitions, and his revealed insights into the afterlife for those of us dying to know what really goes on behind the veil.2
Before proceeding with the specifics, allow me to briefly sum up Van Praagh’s metaphysical position. Each of us is an eternal soul that reincarnates on the earth, and on other planets and in other dimensions, in order to learn all the lessons a soul’s got to know. These lessons are, predictably, things like patience and humility, and not things like how to make napalm or take the temperature of a cat. The ultimate lesson is that “we are all love created by Love,”3 and once we’ve figured out what the hell that could possibly mean, we achieve enlightenment.
- You Too Can Be A Mindreader (randi.org)
via Business Insider
Magician David Blaine‘s latest TV special on ABC, “David Blaine: Real or Magic,” had the illusionist hopping from celeb to celeb, dazzling stars like Ricky Gervais, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Kanye with card tricks and other crazy stunts.
But one of the best on-camera reactions came from Harrison Ford.
Ford was speechless when Blaine mysteriously pulled the 71-year-old actor’s card from an orange. He jokingly told Blaine, ”Get the f— out of my house!” It’s wonderful.
[END] via Business Insider
- David Blaine’s Card Trick Thoroughly Freaks Out Harrison Ford (businessinsider.com)
- David Blaine is neither real nor magic (popwatch.ew.com)
- David Blaine Destroyed the Minds of Your Favorite Famous People on Real or Magic (grantland.com)
- David Blaine terrifies celebs with horrifying ice pick trick (lfpress.com)
- David Blaine Does Magic, Celebrities React in Shock (thehollywoodgossip.com)
Yesterday one of the world’s most famous fake psychics (I know, that’s redundant) died.
Now being a skeptic and someone whom believes that all psychics are frauds (apart form those that are mentally ill and really do believe that they have psychic powers) many people might assume that I am rejoicing, and perhaps even celebrating her death (especially those who believe that people can have psychic powers, or just people who don’t like skeptics).
To be quiet honest I’m not sure how I should feel about her death, because there are just so many feelings I have about it that I can’t seem to focus on one to just go with.
On the one hand I am sort of glad that she’s gone because now she can no longer hurt people and mess with their emotions with her stage magician like “readings” while at the same time exploiting those people for fame and money.
On the other hand I’m also a bit angry, not only because of her exploitation that she basically got away with up until she died, but also because she would never would come clean about being a fake, despite the numerous failed readings and predictions she has had. Now that she’s dead, she never will.
Yet on the other hand I also feel a tad bit sad for her . . .
- Sylvia Browne’s Death (illuminutti.com)
- ‘Psychic’ Sylvia Browne is Dead (patheos.com)
- Psychic Sylvia Browne has died, son tells @TMZ; she was 77 (tmz.com)
- Author, TV psychic Sylvia Browne dies at 77 (globalnews.ca)
- Sylvia Browne, World Famous Psychic, Dies At 77 (hollywoodlife.com)
- Sylvia Browne dead: World famous psychic dead at 77 (myfox8.com)
- “Psychic” Sylvia Browne Dead at 77 (disinfo.com)
- Sylvia Browne “Psychic” Dies at age 77 (guardianlv.com)
- Psychic Sylvia Browne Dead (4umf.com)
- Sylvia Browne Blows Another Psychic Prediction (sandwalk.blogspot.com)
14 new Sylvia Browne failures exposed
By Mason I. Bilderberg
According to the Sylvia Browne webpage, Sylvia Browne passed away at 7:10am on Wednesday, November 20, 2013.
Now i’m not a heartless person, i don’t wish ill on anybody and i certainly don’t take any pleasure in Miss Browne’s passing.
But i can’t go blind to Browne’s record of past failures (The stories of Shawn Hornbeck and Amanda Berry come to mind.) simply because she is no longer alive and i certainly can’t go blind now when her passing has exposed 14 new Sylvia Browne failures:
Come to think of it, did ANY psychics ANYWHERE predict Browne’s death? I thought not.
MORE – - – Sylvia Browne (iLLumiNuTTi.com)
- Psychic told parents that son was dead (Anderson Cooper Blog)
- AC360: Sylvia Browne’s Best Evidence? (stopsylvia.com)
- Dead Wrong, . . . Again (iLLumiNuTTi.com)
- Girl Recovered After 10 Years Claimed Dead by Psychic (livescience.com)
- Psychic Sylvia Browne told Amanda Berry’s mother she was dead (deathandtaxesmag.com)
- Psychic on The Montel Williams Show said Amanda Berry was dead. She wasn’t. (macleans.ca)
- I See Dead People. Oh, Also Profits. (moralcompassblog.com)
- Cleveland abductions: fans lash out at ‘psychic’ Sylvia Browne over false prediction (guardian.co.uk)
- Amanda Berry psychic was wrong — and they usually are (mnn.com)
- Case stirs memories of Hornbeck finding (stltoday.com)
- When Psychics Fail: The Sylvia Browne and Amanda Berry Fiasco (skepticalteacher.wordpress.com)
- Amanda Berry is alive and well … and proves Sylvia Browne’s to be a total fraud (skeptical-science.com)
- Dead Wrong, …Again (skepticblog.org)
- Shame on you, Sylvia Browne, for telling Amanda Berry’s mother her daughter was dead. (badscience.net)
- Psychic Sylvia Browne slammed for declaring Amanda Berry dead (twitchy.com)
- Fans lash out at ‘psychic’ Sylvia Browne for false Ohio abduction prediction (rawstory.com)
- Sylvia Browne dead: World famous psychic dead at 77 (myfox8.com)
- ‘Psychic’ Sylvia Browne is Dead (patheos.com)
- Sylvia Browne: Dead Psychic’s Legacy Riddled With Failed Predictions, Fraud – Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com)
Earlier this week we did a post on survivorship bias, and how it could trick people into believing in psychic ability. It turns out that the most famous test of psychic ability was made expressly to allow for this kind of bias.
One of the most famous tests of psychic ability was made by J. B. Rhine. He claimed to identify strong psychics by testing a lot of people with Zener Cards. The tests involved two people, the examiner looking at the card, and the person being tested trying to guess the card that the examiner is looking at. Rhine noted that some people, a small minority, got a disproportionate number of cards right. They were “strong psychics.” Skeptics countered that, if you were to test any group on the street, some would do far better than average – just as some would do far worse than average. That’s the point of survivorship bias. You test a large amount of people and hold up the few who do better-than-average as examples of proof rather than coincidence.
One could argue that there shouldn’t be a coincidence at all. What are the chances that if someone looks at a card – a card that could show any picture at all – that another person will be able to guess the picture on it? The chances, it turns out, got a lot better once Zener Cards were invented. Zener Cards were made by Karl Zener, a paranormal investigator.
- Psychic test cards were actually invented to make psychic tests easier (io9.com)
- Witches Are Not Psychic (aulberich89.wordpress.com)
- The Survivorship Bias convinces people that psychics are real (io9.com)
- 10 Signs That You’re Psychic (dangerouslee.biz)
- Secrets of the Psychics (illuminutti.com)
There’s a simple bias that seems to endure. Anyone may accidentally fall into its trap. Once they do, they make it impossible for others to avoid doing the same thing. It’s called the Survivorship Bias, and it can be used to convince people of nearly anything.
Let’s say that I walked up to you in the street and told you I was psychic and I could prove it. The more fleet-footed of you would manage to keep walking, but I think I’d back a few of you into a corner and make you watch my demonstration. It’s a video of me walking into a room with a group of witnesses. One of the witnesses – picked at random – flips a coin. After he flips, but before he shows the coin to anyone, I guess whether it’s heads or tails. He reveals it to the witnesses. I’m right. The demonstration goes on, and each time I’m right.
You’re naturally skeptical, so you start questioning the set-up. I have sworn statements from all the witnesses that they were all pulled off the street. I even have the video of the selection process. I have a video of what I did all that day, showing that I didn’t set up anything that might clue me in on the coin flip results. After a lot of investigating, you determine that there’s no trick. I’m just correctly guessing the coin each time. You’re right. There isn’t a trick.
There’s just hundreds days of set-up. On every one of those days, I have people go out and find witnesses, and people film me going about my business. On every one of those days, I walk into the room and start guessing. And on every one of those days, except for the day that I showed you, I guess wrong. I’ve showed you the one remarkable case, the one day that I guessed right.
To be fair, that’s more survivorship deception. But it does show how coincidence can, when taken out of context, look like something more. It’s been used by psychic researchers in the past. Test enough people and some of them will give answers that are coincidentally accurate. Then pretend that those people are psychics.
It’s also been used in economics. I had an economics teacher who joked that the best way to make millions as an investment adviser was to send out, to thousands of people, two variations of a letter. One would predict one trend in the stock market and the other would predict the opposite trend. Let the market takes its course. Strike the people that got the inaccurate letter from your mailing list. Then send out another set of letters. Repeat the pattern until you’ve got only a few clients, and each one of them is absolutely convinced that you’re infallible.
- The Survivorship Bias convinces people that psychics are real (io9.com)
- Psychic test cards were actually invented to make psychic tests easier (io9.com)
- The great psychic con (illuminutti.com)
- Secrets of the Psychics (illuminutti.com)