Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Post #86 Hire a Hall / Everything (Licensed Psychic)

A while ago I made some comments about psychics and their interventions in criminal cases.
The idea has been at the back of my mind for a long time to put the challenge issued by the Australian skeptics into a statutory form. It used to be unlawful to "pretend to tell a fortune". This law was removed from the statute books in Western Australia some years ago, perhaps because the legislators thought it was a nonsense to "pretend" to an act which was, to their minds, an impossibility. That hasn't stopped the pretenders. They've proliferated to a ludicrous degree. Every medium imaginable is now rife with their phony purports.

So here's my happy medium (okay, that's twice for the same pun..) solution. Let's not prohibit them; nor should we allow them to play free as they do now with the gullible. We should license them! Yep, let them be regulated like any other service provider. And to be very generous, we'll issue these licences free of charge. The only requirement (only!) will be to specify what type of psychic service is to be offered by the licensee and...prove competence in the field by passing a reasonable test of ability. There'll be a one-off fee for organising the test; that will depend on the nature of it and what resources are required. Mind readers can read minds, predictors of future events can make some predictions; each will be treated according to their claimed talent.Those who pass will receive a licence. Those who don't, won't. Can't be fairer than that.

This process can be administered by the Commonwealth department for Communications. I have a feeling they won't be issuing many licences but I'm open-minded. I don't reject all claims of the paranormal, I just want to see the evidence. If someone can do the business no-one should object to their providing their service for a fee.

In passing, I just remembered something that I read in Herodotus' histories about the punishment that an ancient people (I've forgotten their name) applied to false soothsayers. These fakes would be bound up and thrust into a cart filled with kindling. The kindling would be ignited and the oxen hauling the cart would be flogged to start them running. Of course, the flames would be fanned by the airstream and the kindling would begin to really fire up. The fire in turn would frighten the oxen who would run faster, fanning the flames more. Herodotus comments that in some cases the boom of the cart would burn through and the oxen would escape the fire they were dragging. On other occasions they'd be cooked, along with the false soothsayers. Herodotus was perhaps concerned for these creatures, as should any humane person be. (He doesn't waste a word of pity on the passengers in the cart.) I've thought, over the years since I first read this, that it might be a fine treatment for stockbrokers, economists and other such characters who now fill the niche once occupied by these ancient professional prophets. Now that I think of it, at least purported psychics can be tested in a definitive manner. The financial gurus have a line in bogosity that defies verification; their speculations are too nebulous for empirical certainties as to results. Recent events should stimulate us to ponder on this...


Dina said...

I think that is a BRILLIANT idea!!!

I personally do believe in psychics, mediums, and all that.

But I think so many of them are fake.

If you want to go to a psychic, it's so hard to know who to go to.

My feeling though about people who are so anti-psychics and all that--who feel psychics are scamming people for money.

I think the same thing about a LOT of people and professions.

Let's say I spend 30 dollars for a ten minute reading with a psychic. She tells me stuff that seems valid and accurate. I enjoy the experience and feel I've gained something from it.

Someone else could say it was a total scam. The psychic was just good at guessing. She simply told me what I wanted to hear. I just threw away thirty dollars.

But what about people rush to their doctor as soon as they have symptoms of the flu. The doctor checks them out, then tells them to go home and get some rest--drink lots of fluids.

Was THAT really helpful? Was that worth the money?

I could also spend thirty dollars on a new electronic toy that a commercial has convinced me I absolutely need. Isn't that a scam?

What about spending thirty dollars at a restaurant for food you could learn how to cook at home?

I paid over a hundred dollars to do a past life regression hypnosis thing with a clinical psychologist. A part of me felt ashamed/wrong for spending that much money on something like that. But then I thought these are MY spiritual beliefs. So, what's the difference between me spending that money and my parents paying hundreds of dollars a year to belong to their synagogue?

Back to the psychics, I think requiring a license would be a good idea. I also think they need to have a required piece of paper hanging up somewhere that lists what to watch out for in terms of scams.

I know one of the common scams is for a "psychic" to tell someone they're cursed or in big trouble...but if they pay mucho amount of money, the psychic will remove the curse.

I think people also need to look out for "psychics" using general statements. A "psychic" can say: "You're dealing with a very stessful situation right now, but you haven't told a lot of people. You feel alone. You feel no one understands you. You don't know what to do. You're at a crossroad. You feel suffocated. You're scared. You also are having issues with your health. You're not feeling good. There's someone you love that you're worried about."

I think people need to understand that EVERYONE feels the above--or at least they feel most of it. So a psychic could say that to every client and be correct.

My feeling about psychics is don't believe anything they say about your future until they can prove to you with specifics that they know something about your past and present.

Retarius said...

I'm puzzled by some of the services that are offered in this field. They're so transparently bogus that I'm sure no-one could take them seriously. Yet, they wouldn't have the paid-advertisement profile that they do have unless someone used them. So is it just people with heaps of money having a laugh or is it a nasty con on the gullibles who can't really afford it? Either way, if it's making a pile of money for someone it should be subject to consumer protection regulation as much as anything else.