Tag Archives: scam

Never Trust a Psychic …

The Perfect Prediction Scam

via The Skeptic’s Dictionary

This scam involves making a series of opposite predictions (on winners in the stock market, football games, or the like) and sending them to different groups of people until one group has seen your perfect track record sufficiently to be duped into paying you for the next “prediction.”

For example, Notre Dame is playing Michigan next week, so you send 100 letters to people, predicting the outcome of the game. It doesn’t really matter whether the recipients of your letter are known to bet on college football games. The information you provide will stimulate some of them to want to bet on the game. You name your letter something swell like The Perfect Gamble. In 50 letters you predict Notre Dame will win. In the other 50 you predict Michigan will win. You write a short introduction explaining that you have a secret surefire method of predicting winners and to prove it you are giving out free predictions this week. Notre Dame wins.

The next week you send a free copy of The Perfect Gamble to the 50 who got the letter that predicted a Notre Dame victory. In the introduction you remind them of last week’s prediction and you inform them how much they would have won had they followed your advice. To show there are no hard feelings and to give them one more chance to take advantage of your surefire system you provide—free of cost—one more prediction. This week Notre Dame is playing Oregon State. You divide your list of recipients and you send 25 letters predicting Notre Dame will win and 25 predicting Oregon State will win.

After the second game, you will have 25 people who have seen you make two correct predictions in a row. Three correct predictions in a row should convince several recipients of your letter that you do have a surefire way to pick winners. You now charge them a substantial fee for the next prediction and, if all goes as planned, you should make a handsome profit even after postage and handling costs.

Since you are a crook for running this scam, you won’t feel guilty in promising the prospective suckers their money back if not completely satisfied with your predictions. Your hope is that they will be greedy and say: “How can I lose?” You needn’t remind them how. You might even be able to rationalize your behavior by telling yourself that they deserve to be scammed because they’re so greedy!

For different audiences, you can pretend to be a psychic or an astrologer or a mathematician or a gambler who knows how to fix college football games. If you are cheating the gullible as well as the greedy, you may be able to convince yourself that you are performing a beneficial service to the community by cheating these people out of their money. You might persuade yourself that rather than try to put you in jail for being a fraudulent scammer, society should give you an award for reminding people to use their common sense and critical thinking skills.

A variant of the perfect prediction scam is used by some psychics. If you tell enough clients “someday you will be rich beyond your wildest dreams,” then if one of them inherits a great sum or wins a lottery, you may get credit for being psychic.

Continue Reading @ skepdic.com – – –

Psychic Methods Revealed: Hot Reading

Detecting psychic scams & debunking mediums is easier when you know how psychic methods like hot reading work. Don’t be fooled by psychic misdirection. Expert mentalists, skeptics, and magicians Penn and Teller, Derren Brown, Paul Zenon, James Randi, and Mark Edward will reveal the secrets of psychics by exposing disgraceful psychic tricks used by psychic Sally Morgan, The Long Island Medium (Theresa Caputo), Rosemary Altea, Peter Popoff, Joe Power, James Van Praagh, and more. Stay skeptical, dare to be curious, but don’t fall for this bullshit, and don’t drink the koolaid.

Ghosthunters: The Warrens

Fake Psychics Scam Billions


steven_novellaby via NeuroLogica Blog

I know, it’s redundant. All psychics are fake and a scam, but some are worse than others.

Why don't you remember this headline?

Why don’t you remember this headline?

When most people think of psychics they conjure an image (see what I did there) of someone dressed in robes in a mystically decorated parlor who reads your palm or the tarot cards for $40. They are making a meager living giving people a bit of harmless entertainment. Some may actually think they have powers, some may know it’s all an act, but what’s the harm?

In truth, however, many psychics are predators who scam people out of hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars. They prey on the vulnerable and the desperate and can ruin lives. This is not a benign industry.

A recent report from Toronto is just one of many – a steady stream with no expectation of ending. They report stories of people who have been victimized by psychics promising to turn around their fortunes, while parasitically bleeding them of as much money as possible. 

How the scam works

Encounters usually begin like any street-corner psychic, with a simple reading. Everyone who comes in for a reading is a potential mark. The more desperate the better.

psychic 856_250pxSuch psychics (I am just going to use the term “psychic” for convenience, but assume the usual caveats – alleged, fake, etc.) are adept at creating the illusion that they have some magical insight. They are, after all, just mentalists, and usually not very good ones. They don’t really have to be, as their audience wants to believe, often desperately.

Their primary tool is the cold reading. This is the technique of listening to what your mark says, then feeding it back to them as if it came to you magically. You can also make vague statements that are likely to apply to most people, then following up when you get a positive reaction, while glossing over any misses. Simple observation also plays a role. A willing target will do most of the hard work, making all the connections in their own mind. This can seem quite impressive to someone naive to the technique – in fact a skilled mentalist can seem impressive even to someone familiar with it.

This is all part of the grooming, drawing the mark in and gaining their confidence. This is, after all, a confidence game. Once you believe that the psychic has the magical power to fix your life, you are lost.

They then use a variety of tricks to bleed their marks of all their money. They may use some slight of hand, like pretending the water their mark gargled is full of insects, or an egg used in a seeing is full of black ichor. They try to convince their mark that they are cursed, and that the psychic has the power to lift the curse. This frequently involves praying over cash, gift cards, or other untraceable items of value – items the mark never sees again.

In one case a psychic scammed a business man whose girlfriend died unexpectedly out of $700,000.

Continue Reading @ NeuroLogica Blog – – –

psychic-john-edward-2012-events_02

Good Thinking Investigates: Faith Healer Peter Popoff

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Food Babe Selling “Toxic” Product: Nutiva Chia Seeds

Food Babe’s hypocrisy exposed (again) . . .

Bad Science Debunked

I haven’t been shopping at FoodBabe.com in a while, and I must admit I miss the experience.  It’s true that I’ve been surprised once or twice (or maybe three or four or five times), but who’s counting?  Vani Hari is a world class researcher who thoroughly investigates (and personally uses) each and every product she sells.  It’s exactly her kind of dedication we need to keep our food supply secure (and the world safe for democracy).  Why not show her some love via her affiliate shopping links?

As  I head over to Vani’s web site to go shopping, I’m reminded of a poignant warning The Babe once penned on  the subject of chewing gum:1

“And what’s up with the warning at the bottom of some of the ingredient lists for “Contains: Phenylalanine”? Does the average person even know what this means? Phenylalanine is added to the ingredient Aspartame…

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Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Televangelists (HBO)

By Last Week Tonight via YouTube

U.S. tax law allows television preachers to get away with almost anything. We know this from personal experience.

Plastic from the Air, Global Warming Solution or SCAM?

By Thunderf00t via YouTube

Always depressing to see the level of scientific illiteracy in the mainstream media and in many cooperation.

So Fox News, CBS, The Weather Channel and USA today all had articles on ‘aircarbon’ which purports to pull carbon out of the air through a hose.

They generally try to be as vague as possible, but claim they are making carbon out of the air, and that this will be cheaper than regular plastic.

Thats Bullshit on every level:

Firstly if they are making a polymer out of carbon dioxide, you need to put a load of energy into it. More than you would have gotten from burning the oil and creating that carbon dioxide in the first place.

If they are talking about pulling methane out of the air, they are so full of bull it beggars belief. Methane in the air runs at about one part per million. Just pumping enough air to do this would cost more energy than just making a polymer out of oil.

Thirdly, if they are talking about making this polymer from biogas/ biomethane.. then all their claims about making it out of the air are outrageously misleading!

Some ball park figures:
1kg of oil makes ~ 1kg of plastic.
Methane is about 1 part in a million in air. So to make 1kg of plastic requires 1 million kg of air (1000 tons). Air is about 1kg per cubic meter so to extract 1kg of ‘air plastic’ from the air would take about 1million cubic meters of air. About the volume of the empire state building!!

17 years on Mars, or “How Daily Mirror fell for a fake story.”

mirror mars
The LockeBy The Locke via The Soap Box

Recently the British tabloid Daily Mirror published an article online about this claim made by a alleged former US Marine (a claim that sounds more like a half decent science fiction novel rather than a true account) about how he allegedly spent 17 years on Mars

Earth-Defense-Force_300pxThe original story was published on a website called ExoNews TV (a UFO conspiracy theorist website) on April 3 of this year. Why the Daily Mail took so long to write up their own crazy story nearly three months after the original crazy story was published, who knows?

Maybe they just found out about it, maybe they were having a slow “news” day (ofcourse the Daily Mirror is not really known for publishing actual news or news that’s truthful) maybe they thought that now was the time to publish it.

The original story from ExoNews TV is an account told by a person whom calls himself “Captain Kaye” or “Captain K” (you can listen to him recalling his story here) and whom claims to be a former Marine that spent 17 years of a 20 year military career on Mars.

Mars Defense Force_200pxNow such claims have been made before. Infact several people have claimed to have gone to Mars and back over the years, or claimed to have “knowledge” of bases on Mars. The problem with all of those claims are that the people who made them are either liars, seriously deluded, or both.

I believe this “Captain Kaye” is the first type, and for several reasons.

First he claims that our government has technology that is probably centuries ahead of our current technological level, and yet he gives an audio interview (he never shows his face) to a conspiracy theorist website.

Why the heck would he give an audio only interview and give a fake name and not have a video interview and a give out his real name  .  .  .

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5 Things I’ve noticed about… Autism cure promoters

autism water
By The Locke via The Soap Box

Autism cure promoters are people who claim they “cure” people with autism.

The claims made by these people are very conversational, both in their claims about autism and it’s causes, and what they say can cure autism.

Now there are a lot of different things I have noticed about autism cure promoters, but I’ve narrowed it down to five different things.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about autism cure promoters:

5. They’re closely aligned with the anti-vaccination movement.

VaCCINE-no-Autism_200pxAutism cure promoters and the anti-vaccination movement are pretty much like peas in a pod. Anti-vaccers often promote these so called “therapies” that the autism cure promoters claim can cure a person with autism, and autism cure promoters also tend to publish on their websites anti-vaccination movement propaganda, mainly in the form of claims that certain chemicals in vaccines can cause autism.

Some of these promoters also like to use certain words that the anti-vaccination movement also uses inorder to sell their therapies to people with autism or have autistic children, such as “vaccine damage”, “vaccine injury”, or “autism epidemic”.

They also ignore the fact that such words are not only incorrect and misleadinf, but very insulting to people with autism. Ofcourse they’re not actually promoting their therapies towards people with autism, they’re really promoting them towards parents of children who have autism and just want their kids to be normal.

4. They exploit the fears and desires of parents with autistic children.

For some parents when a child is diagnosed with autism it can be devastating to them, and the fact that there is no way to cure autism can make that devastation to them even worse. autism einstein 02_300pxThen comes along someone who claims they can do things that the medical industry cannot do and can “cure” their child of autism, and if they don’t know any better they may take that person up on their offer.

A person who is misinformed about what autism is and what causes autism, mixed with both the fear of what will happen to their child and how their life will turn out due to their autism, combined with their desire to have a “normal” child, would be very temped by someone whom claims they can cure their child of autism and give them a chance at a normal life and be willing to pay whatever price they can inorder to do so.

The people who are promoting these so called autism cures know this and know that they can exploit these fears and desires to sell people products and services that scientific research has concluded are useless at curing autism.

3. They’re trying to give a simple solution to a complex issue.

Autism is a neurological disorder, and like all neurological disorders it’s complex without any simple solutions.

Autism cure promoters try to make it look like autism is caused by toxins in the body, and that by removing these toxins a person whom has autism one can be cured of autism.

While some toxins can cause neurological disorders, all legitimate scientific research has shown that autism isn’t one them.

While the actually cause of autism is still technically unknown, most scientists who study autism agree that it’s  .  .  .

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The Science and the Scam of the Séance

It’s surprisingly easy to trick someone into believing they’ve seen something paranormal.

By Katie Heaney via Pacific Standard: The Science of Society

The spirit Bien Boa which was discovered to be a dressed up man.

The spirit Bien Boa which was discovered to be a dressed up man.
(image wikipedia)

The first time Marthe Béraud was caught faking paranormal activity during a séance, she was 23 years old. She claimed she developed the ability to commune with the dead shortly after her fiancé died, five years earlier, and she began holding séances for the public. During these sessions, a “spirit” named Bien Boa, whom Béraud claimed was a 300-year-old Brahmin Hindu, materialized, sometimes moving about the room and touching people. Photographs of the séances would make Boa look an awful lot like a cardboard cutout, in some cases, and in others, like a living man draped in fabric and wearing a fake beard.

In 1906, a newspaper printed an account of an Arab man known as Areski, then working as a coachman at the villa where Béraud lived and held séances, who copped to having been hired to play the part of Bien Boa. Her hand forced, Béraud admitted to concocting the hoax. Then she changed her name to Eva Carrière (or Eva C) so nobody would know she’d been caught, traveled to Munich, and started holding hoaxed séances again, immediately. She is, without question, my favorite early-20th-century con artist, “fake psychic medium” category.

Like many other so-called spiritualists of the day, Carrière’s credibility relied heavily on her supposed production of “ectoplasm,” or a spiritual energy that oozes from orifices on the medium’s body and takes shape, allowing the medium to interact with said spirit. Peruse the image results for this one (and I cannot recommend doing so enough) and you will see a series of black and white photos of people with a white substance pouring out of their mouths, or their noses, or their ears.

Eva Carrière  (aka Marthe Béraud) March 13, 1911

Eva Carrière (aka Marthe Béraud)
March 13, 1911

Soon Carrière met a widow named Juliette Bisson, 25 years her senior, and they started both sleeping together and faking séances together. Or, as Wikipedia puts it: “Juliette Bisson and Carrière were in a sexual relationship together, and they both worked in collaboration with each other to fake the ectoplasm and eroticize their male audience.” These are two things I would not have thought simultaneously achievable! I am so impressed by this information.

Anyway, one of Carrière’s tricks was to give her ectoplasm a face, which she did by cutting faces out of newspapers, drawing on them in an attempt to mask their identities, and attaching them to the typical muslin or a similar white material. But photographs taken during her sessions caught up with Carrière, as some of the faces she used were recognized, and her fraud was again exposed, in a 1913 article in the Viennese newspaper Neue Wiener Tagblatt. Among the famous faces she’d used: actress Mona Delza, King Ferdinand of Bulgaria, and Woodrow Wilson.

A Seance scene in the classic German silent film Dr Mabuse (1922), directed by Fritz Lang. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

A Seance scene in the classic German silent film Dr Mabuse (1922), directed by Fritz Lang. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

IT SEEMS LIKE IT should take more, in this modern day and age, to trick someone into thinking she’s seen something paranormal. In a study published in the British Journal of Psychology in 2003, a group of three semi-mischievous researchers aimed to determine what it takes. Participants (who, prior to the experiment, identified themselves as either “believers” or “disbelievers” in the paranormal) were split into groups and made to sit through faked séances in a pitch-black room. In the middle of the room was a table, upon which sat a few objects treated with luminous paint. These were made to move a few inches by researchers, who hid in the dark and prodded the objects with sticks. How they got anyone to believe they’d seen something paranormal this way is beyond me, but somehow, 16 percent of them did. Most of that group identified as believers, but not all.

More interesting still is the fact that roughly 20 percent of the participants (30 percent of believers and a surprisingly high eight percent of disbelievers) reported experiencing additional unusual phenomena during the faked séances, beyond anything that could be attributed to actions taken by the researchers. They reported feeling as though they had entered an “unusual psychological state,” feeling cold shivers running down their bodies, sensing an energetic presence, and noticing weird smells. They were thoroughly spooked, and fairly easily, at the hands of researchers who faked the entire thing.

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5 Things I’ve noticed about… Alternative Cancer Cures

By via The Soap Box

cancer_quacks_250pxAlternative cancer cures.

These so called cures have been around with us for as long as science based cancer treatments have been around with us. In fact some of them have been around even longer than that.

These so called cures, while different, also have many things in common, which I have narrowed down to five different things.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about alternative cancer cures:

5. There’s a lot of them.

One of the biggest things that I’ve noticed about alternative cancer cures is that there are a lot of different types of “cures” floating around the internet and alternative medicine communities, and that there seems to be a new one that comes out every few weeks.

I’ve seen claims that balancing your ph levels, vitamins, organic foods, “detoxing” your body of chemicals, breathing in pure oxygen, and soursop can cure cancer, and in ways and speeds that would make conventional treatments obsolete.

The most recent claims I’ve seen concern cannabis oil. Along with doing all sorts of other stuff, the rumors spreading around the internet is that either cannabis oil can cure or at least stop the growth of cancer cells.

While there are a lot of different alternative medical treatments that are claimed to cure cancer, there are a few things that they all have in common, such as the fact that…

4. Many of the claims are exaggerated and dubious.

snake oil_300pxOf all the alternative cancer cures that I have seen floating around the internet they all just sound blatantly exaggerated, and when I do some research into these claims I find out that they are often times full of half truths, or are outright false. Examples of this would be Soursop which is claimed to be 10,000 times more effective than chemo (both exaggerated and false), and vitamins are often claimed to kill cancer cells because it can kill them in a petri dish (that doesn’t mean it can kill them in the human body).

Many people who promote these so called alternative cancer cures also claim that there is a “conspiracy” by “big pharma” to suppress these so called “cures” (which they have done a terrible job at) and is the reason why doctors won’t even mention these alternative “cures”. This is ofcourse made up nonsense and BS conspiracy theories. The real reason why doctors don’t recommend alternative cancer cures is because…

3. They don’t work and are dangerous.

As the old saying goes “You know what they call an alternative medicine that works? Medicine.”

The fact is that these so called alternative cancer cures don’t work. They have been tested in scientific laboratories, and have been shown . . .

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