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...