Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Post #33 Hire a Hall/Everything (Psychics and sidekicks)

I was prompted recently to think about the paranormal by various weird coincidences (that I won't digress on here) and I came to the conclusion that there's a real chasm between the fictional perception of clairvoyance and such things and the effect they would have in real life. One very obvious clanger is the response that the world at large would have to a successful soothsayer. I first noticed this in the movie of Stephen King 's book, The Dead Zone. In a scene which isn't actually in the book, Christopher Walken who plays the psychic, Johnny Smith, throws open a closet filled to the brim with the parcels and letters sent by people seeking his help. He's greatly distressed by the pleas for help he's being buried with. In the novel Replay by Ken Grimwood a man reliving his life over and over again, has a nasty experience when he and a female companion (who's having the same experience) try to explore what's happening to them by using their knowledge of coming events to attract the attention of the world with stunningly-accurate predictions. They are put under house arrest by the US government. Their predictions, based on a certain sequence of events, become useless as the effects of state intervention take matters further and further from the familiar pattern. By the time they "die" to start another cycle, they have brought that alternate reality to the brink of nuclear war.

I wonder what would happen to these would-be crime-solving psychics in my own town if they got "lucky". There are some famous disappearances which attract the efforts of these types. Here is a link to a skeptics' website which covers the impact they've had in the case of Sarah Spiers, a missing, possibly murdered, resident of Perth, Western Australia. There are some other interesting cases referred to there. But, apart from the grief that incompetent would-be's cause, what would the consequences of success be? Now, the "coppers" have been known to humour psychics, just in case. But they don't really believe in them. Let's say someone found the remains of a missing person in some obscure place. If they could also point to a killer and there was substantiating evidence, they might be heroes. What if there's just a body? It wouldn't take a cynical police officer long to think that a person who knows where a dead body is hidden is more likely to know from putting or helping to put it there than by some psychic insight. And what would a jury make of it? One day, one of these characters might find a body...then we'll see.