Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

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Joe Z
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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Joe Z » November 16th, 2004, 7:01 am

Originally posted by AntonioMCabral:
Spiritualism isn't about fraudulent mediums, and it isn't about the magicians who know how it's done. It's about sad people.
Tony:

While I agree with some of what you have said -- especially concerning the topic of arrogance -- I disagree with your characterization of spiritualism. It's not only about fraudulent mediums, magicians, or sad people. I have known a few spiritualists and they are happy, intelligent, and sincere believers in a faith that is as genuine as any other organized religion.

It is stupid to think anyone -- especially a freakin' magician -- could have the final word on the validity of any religious concept or belief system. That kind of arrogance leads to a particularly dangerous form of venom known as intolerance.

Joe Z.

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby AMCabral » November 16th, 2004, 7:16 am

Joe,

When I say "sad people", I mean the grieving. The people who are despairing and need help. Watch the first episode of Penn and Teller's "[censored]!!" and listen to the part where Penn talks about the people who miss their loved ones and what he needed when his mother died, and why mind-reading tricks just won't cut it. That's the first time I've ever heard that part of the issue addressed in one of these "debunk the medium" forays. That's what I meant by it's not about "us" vs. "them". It's a bunch of magicians who forgot their audience for the umpteenth time.

-Tony

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 16th, 2004, 7:52 am

Hey, NO ONE CAN TALK TO THE DEAD.
Anyone who believes he or she can needs to see a shrink.
Anyone who pays someone else to talk to their dead relatives needs to have their finances controlled by someone else.
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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Guest » November 16th, 2004, 7:57 am

WARNING: Long Post!!!

Robert McDaniel asked:

"So, are there any real psychics out there? And ghosts?"

I have something to throw out there:

I am NOT a psychic and I DO NOT have special powers and I NEVER TELL anyone that I do.

Now, here's a couple of things I've observed.

When the other person strongly believe that I do have special powers (because of the tricks I'm doing seem to show that I'm reading their mind), things start to change...

One day I was doing some card tricks for a woman and she was 100% sure that I was reading her mind. SHe was so psyched up that my tricks were just flowing so easy and smooth. I was "in the zone."

She asked me how I did it and I told her that I just "relax and let it come to me..."

At this point I tried an experiment. I asked her to pick up the deck of cards, shuffle them and turn them over quickly one at a time withouot showing me.

As she did that I quickly guessed, "RED, BLACK, BLACK, RED..." I did about 4 or five in a row and got them ALL RIGHT!

Now, you explain to me how this happened, 'cause I sure don't know.

I've had a couple of experiences like that with spectators that are really into it an seem to believe that it's all real magic.

Maybe being in the right frame of mind (being in the same "mental wavelength") helps, but I don't know...

I do know that the factors that help this kind of thing are that 1. the person believes that I'm really reading her mind, and 2. I have to "be in the Zone" which means I just go for it and I don't care if I get it right or not. Just go with it and say the first thing that comes to my head.

Another day I was chatting online with someone. I had never seen any member of his family. I started chatting with his sister, (whom I'd never met or seen before) and decided to try an experiment...

I started winging it and ended up describing her, (hair length, color, clothes, etc. -- I got the clear mental picture of a black T-Shirt with white letters on it and she said she had a ble t-shirt. But then she said that her mother was standing behind her reading over her shoulder and she was wearing a Black T-Shirt with Ahite Letters on it!

One time I lost the selected card and just guessed it. Thinking I would miss and then say, "OK, let's try it again..." But I got it right!

Now, I've only done it a couple of times and only when the two factors metioned above were met.

Has anyone had anything like this happen?

Fire away!

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby John LeBlanc » November 16th, 2004, 8:06 am

Originally posted by m3nta1:
Now, you explain to me how this happened, 'cause I sure don't know.
I think the technical term for this is "coincidence." On the other hand, doing it consistently is called "Out of This World."

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Guest » November 16th, 2004, 8:14 am

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
Hey, NO ONE CAN TALK TO THE DEAD.
Anyone who believes he or she can needs to see a shrink.
Anyone who pays someone else to talk to their dead relatives needs to have their finances controlled by someone else.
Actually talking to the dead is easy
Getting an answer is a whole different matter
from
Ford

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby AMCabral » November 16th, 2004, 8:45 am

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
Hey, NO ONE CAN TALK TO THE DEAD.
Anyone who believes he or she can needs to see a shrink.
Anyone who pays someone else to talk to their dead relatives needs to have their finances controlled by someone else.
Hey, I'm with you on point #1 and I'm with you on point #3; no need to shout. However...

I would pay good money to have video footage of someone walking onto a soundstage and exposing John Edwards as a fraud.

I would pay beyond money to have video footage of someone walking out onto the soundstage and not only exposing John Edwards but then turning to the entire audience and telling them, "And you're all idiots for believing any of this! Afterlife, spirits...seriously, you all need your heads examined; get back on the short bus and do the rest of us a favor and stop breeding, willya?" Although I could save a bundle and tape the riot footage off the 11 O'Clock News.

I'm with Ford on this one. And I'm digging Jon Townsend for reading Promethea.

-Tony Cabral

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby AMCabral » November 16th, 2004, 9:11 am

And yet, quoth the Randi

I'm amazed at how much death affects people who undergo the process. It makes them really stupid and forgetful.
One the one hand, I'm inclined to agree. On the other hand, James, if you're reading this, should you ever learn that a family member of mine has died, and would like to send flowers, get someone else to write the card.

-Tony Cabral

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » November 16th, 2004, 9:21 am

Originally posted by AntonioMCabral:
And yet, quoth the Randi

I'm amazed at how much death affects people who undergo the process. It makes them really stupid and forgetful.
One the one hand, I'm inclined to agree. On the other hand...
Merely stupid and forgetful? They have gone, are now past tense, have become ex-parrots, excuse me ex-people and have left the rest of us pining for the fjords. Perhaps we could add lazy to that list as they seem inert as far as we can tell.

I suspect the man who can get out of a milk can sometimes has trouble tripping over pronouns. ;)
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby AMCabral » November 16th, 2004, 9:27 am

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
Originally posted by AntonioMCabral:
[b] And yet, quoth the Randi

I'm amazed at how much death affects people who undergo the process. It makes them really stupid and forgetful.
One the one hand, I'm inclined to agree. On the other hand...
Merely stupid and forgetful? They have gone, are now past tense, have become ex-parrots, excuse me ex-people and have left the rest of us pining for the fjords. Perhaps we could add lazy to that list as they seem inert as far as we can tell.

I suspect the man who can get out of a milk can sometimes has trouble tripping over pronouns. ;) [/b]
And yet, what are we saying about what grieving does to the people who undergo the process? Pretty much the same thing.

(P.S., JT, nice catch)

-Tony

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Robert Allen » November 16th, 2004, 10:40 am

I think people are really misreading the situation quite a bit if they think that the believers can be convinced that there is no life after death. If people subscribe to religion, is subscribing to people who claim they can speak to the dead so much of a reach? And if you wouldn't berate someone for believing in Transubstantiation, or Heaven, or other such things, why berate them for believing in angels, or earthbound spirits?

As much as I disdain anyone who would use guile to prey on someones bereavment, let alone cheat them out of their money, I believe it can be argued that honest palmists, tarot card readers, etc. are providing a service just as a minister provides. By 'honest' I mean those who basically charge you for a reading, not those who encourage you to turn off your life savings for a Gypsy Switch.

I don't say this lightly. I have relatives who believe in some of this stuff, despite my old efforts to show them that I could duplicate most of the schtick. Basically when ones' life is depressing, belief in the afterlife or whatever is the only relief, or in some cases, entertainment, that one has.

I respect many of Randi's efforts, and his reasons for doing things, but his comment as quoted above and his efforts over the years run somewhat close to a religion or belief in their own right. Also, since his lifestyle has paralled Houdinis' in many way (magician, escape artist, crusader), someone like Conan Doyle would almost certainly claim he's the literal reincarnation of Houdini, which is particularly ironic.

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » November 16th, 2004, 12:22 pm

Originally posted by Robert Allen:
I think people are really misreading the situation...If people subscribe to religion,...believing in Transubstantiation, or Heaven, or other such things, why berate them for ... service[s] just as a minister provides... Basically when ones' life is depressing, belief in the afterlife or whatever is the only relief, or in some cases, entertainment, that one has.
What is a sad story to some, may be an opportunity to others. Whether you see this as entrepreneurial spirit or actions driven by another sacred spirit ultimately depends on where you place your faith.

What distinguishes stories, mythology and belief? Could it be faith?

We can safely discuss the distinctions between expectation, belief and faith if folks are okay about it. In order to proceed though, we SHOULD agree to use neutral examples. By neutral, I am specifically suggesting that we avoid the sacred spaces in the stories that people use to guide their lives. Perhaps hypothetical examples using ancient Greek mythology would work.

If we are going to walk up this mountain in our inner landscape, we have to tread carefully. We each bring attachments to other things and other places even if only in our inner map of the terrain.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby AMCabral » November 16th, 2004, 1:17 pm

I will point out an important distinction to be made:

Example: The "psychic" vs. the card cheat

Both examples of people who engage in criminal activities while employing the tools of our trade (okay, a lot of us employ the tools of the card cheats trade, not the other way 'round. Except Herb Zarrow).

Now, why is there something romantic, enticing and dare I say admirable about the card cheat, while psychics enrage me to the point of graphic violence? I would say it has to do with the nature of the victims.

As we've all heard or read, you can't cheat anyone who doesn't have larceny in their own heart. There's an element that the sucker "has it coming", because he's trying to get something for nothing or thinks he can beat the game. So when he goes home with air in his pockets, the response seems to be, "Well, that'll teach you. You can't beat the monte. Next time you'll know. Serves you right." After all, it's just money.

Can you say that to someone who's given money to a psychic to ease some pain or "get some answers"? "Well, that'll teach you for believing foolishness and needing comfort. That'll teach you to miss someone who's dead and gone so much that you'd resort to this nonsense. Grow up. Serves you right."

I mean, you could. But what does that say about you?

The part we forget about Houdini's crusade against spiritualism was that he really, really wanted to be wrong. He wanted more than anything to talk to mommy again. First he got cheated and insulted, then he got angry, then he got even. But he kept looking.

Most people in that situation aren't lucky enough to be as ornery or strong or influential as Houdini. Most of them just hurt more. Don't seem right to me...

-T

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Robert Allen » November 16th, 2004, 1:48 pm

Originally posted by AntonioMCabral:

The part we forget about Houdini's crusade against spiritualism was that he really, really wanted to be wrong. He wanted more than anything to talk to mommy again. First he got cheated and insulted, then he got angry, then he got even. But he kept looking.
Excellent point.

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Joe Z » November 16th, 2004, 2:27 pm

Originally posted by Robert Allen:
I think people are really misreading the situation quite a bit if they think that the believers can be convinced that there is no life after death. If people subscribe to religion, is subscribing to people who claim they can speak to the dead so much of a reach? And if you wouldn't berate someone for believing in Transubstantiation, or Heaven, or other such things, why berate them for believing in angels, or earthbound spirits?

As much as I disdain anyone who would use guile to prey on someones bereavment, let alone cheat them out of their money, I believe it can be argued that honest palmists, tarot card readers, etc. are providing a service just as a minister provides. By 'honest' I mean those who basically charge you for a reading, not those who encourage you to turn off your life savings for a Gypsy Switch.
I think Robert makes a good point. "Shermerian" skeptics and magicians tend to paint spiritualists, psychics, and "new age" paranormal proponents with a broad brush as if these people are either morons or criminals out to defraud the innocent and gullible with their "mentalist" tricks.

The simple truth is there is no simple truth -- neither side is inherently evil and neither sides' viewpoint can be proven or disproven. Before we condemn certain nonconformist thinkers to psychiatrists or take control of the finances of those whose belief system we do not approve, condone, or completely understand, I suggest that we first recognize their Constitutional right to freedom of religion and personal belief.

Originally posted by AntonioMCabral:
Now, why is there something romantic, enticing and dare I say admirable about the card cheat, while psychics enrage me to the point of graphic violence? I would say it has to do with the nature of the victims.
I think it has more to do with the viewpoint of the conjurer. While a card cheat may be "romantic" and "admirable" to a finger flinging card worker, his crime is no less repugnant to the card-fleeced victim than it is to the victim taken by the fraudulent medium. A rip-off is a rip-off.

I think the magician is naturally enamoured by the card cheat (who has all the moves down pat) and not-so-strangely embittered by the fraudulent medium who often uses more simplistic means to create a mystical reality the cardician could never be able to duplicate with his riffle pass and top change. For this reason, the card cheat may seem less repugnant to the magish than does the medium. And after all, Houdini (the great role model for magis) went after Margery, didn't he?

However, IMO, both the card cheat and fake medium are rather petty low-class thieves that prey on the ignorant and disadvantaged. But just as every card magician is not a low-life card-shuffling thief, neither is every spirit medium a phoney rip-off artist. Many spiritualists are simply practitioners of a belief system that may be off the beaten track for many of us but no less valid than any other organized faith.

I think magicians should be more concerned with mystifying and entertaining people and less concerned with pontificating about how ignorant those lay folks are who might perceive spirit communication as something more than magic tricks.

Joe Z.

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » November 17th, 2004, 7:07 am

Some romance Lady Luck, or Miss Fortune.
Some offer solace to those who need it.
Some entertain with stories that have stood the test of time.
Some claim supernatural connectivity.
Some interpret stories to suit the audience.
Some have a message to deliver.

What frames a story?
Where can we find the boundaries of a story?
What invites us into a story?
Does each story have only one beginning and one ending?

How many stories can you be in at the same time?
How many stories can you tell at the same time?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Kevin Wiese » November 17th, 2004, 7:26 am

Originally posted by Joe Zabel:
I think it has more to do with the viewpoint of the conjurer. While a card cheat may be "romantic" and "admirable" to a finger flinging card worker, his crime is no less repugnant to the card-fleeced victim than it is to the victim taken by the fraudulent medium. A rip-off is a rip-off.
Joe Z.
Anyone who gets cheated at the poker table, the three card monte or any card game HAS to know there is a possibility of deceit from the start. Usually, the ones that do get taken believe that they are savvy enough to avoid or detect any cheating. Does anyone who enters a card game, with any knowledge that the game MAY be fixed in some way, really expect a positive, life-changing result that may benefit him or a loved one?

The victim of a fraudulent medium, however, expects that this person (the medium) really does have his best interests at heart. He believes that the medium has the ability to give aid, comfort and advice through spiritual "powers". The medium advises the victim, that for X amount of dollars, his "powers" will have a positive, life-changing effect.

Oh, yeah. And for X amount more of your hard earned dough, we'll repeat this process ad nauseum and perform some more spiritualist voodoo guaranteed to ease your pain and suffering. Either that or you will be eased of all your cash, whichever comes first.

Does anyone expect that from any card game? (Except for that last bit about the cash, that is.)

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Joe Z » November 17th, 2004, 7:56 am

Originally posted by Kevin Wiese:
Does anyone who enters a card game, with any knowledge that the game MAY be fixed in some way, really expect a positive, life-changing result that may benefit him or a loved one?
Yes...he hopes to make a wad of easy cash from the gambling that could benefit him or a loved one. That promise of potential monetary gain could be perceived as a positive, life-changing result (depending upon how much cash he might be able to win).

However, both scenarios (the card cheat and fake medium) are criminal acts that result in fraud; IMO, neither is more ethical than the other.

Joe Z.

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Kevin Wiese » November 17th, 2004, 8:17 am

Yes...he hopes to make a wad of easy cash from the gambling that could benefit him or a loved one. That promise of potential monetary gain could be perceived as a positive, life-changing result (depending upon how much cash he might be able to win).

However, both scenarios (the card cheat and fake medium) are criminal acts that result in fraud; IMO, neither is more ethical than the other.

Joe Z.
Sad, but true. I guess it's a matter of self-deception. There are those who are so deluded to believe that they have a chance to win a crooked card game. Unless the card cheat makes a stupid mistake, the chances are slim and none.

With the spiritualist, there is virtually no chance of a true positive result. Any perceived positive would be some sort of temporary "placebo" effect or yet another delusion.

Neither scenario is ethical at all. I just think that the spiritualist may be the greater of two evils.

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » November 17th, 2004, 8:20 am

Originally posted by Joe Zabel:
...Yes...he hopes to make a wad of easy cash from the gambling that could benefit him or a loved one. That promise of potential monetary gain could be perceived as a positive, life-changing result (depending upon how much cash he might be able to win)...
Are you suggesting that there could be a spiritualist interpretation of gambling? And by extension a general "guided by X" interpretation of the behavior? This would put the entire gaming phenomenon in line with all practices of making offerings to an "X" for various reasons and with the intention of satisfying requirements set forth by the belief in "X" be that the favors of Ms. Fortune or some other belief based entity.

Has the card table become a divination tool? Is the roulette wheel an oracle? Can one divine truths, make sacrifices and find solace/salvation/relieve/expiation at these modern temples where randomness masks divine intent?

A timeless idea there. Divine will sought the through study of what may appear to be random. Perhaps Einstein got this one wrong, and God does indeed play dice with the universe.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Joe Z » November 17th, 2004, 8:34 am

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
Are you suggesting that there could be a spiritualist interpretation of gambling?
No. But I have used a card table to lay out Tarot spreads, so I guess the table could be loosely considered a divination tool. However, I rarely use a roulette wheel as an oracle outside of Vegas.

Joe Z.

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby AMCabral » November 17th, 2004, 10:05 am

It strikes me a little too rainbows and lollipops to imagine a sucker in a big con or gambling scam as a portrait of "hope springs eternal". The psychological structure of many if not all of these schemes play directly towards the victims' sense of greed, the "gimme gimme gimme", the something-for-nothing. You get taken by the bent corner scam in three card monte or someone who runs "The Drunken Mitt" on you, you get taken by your own smug greed. Besides, the only gamblers who are as emotionally desperate as a grieving individual are the ones with no money, or worse, who owe big time.

This is not the portrait of the ideal mark: someone with no or less than no money. The ideal mark has much money, lots of money, and it is to be hoped infinitely more money than brains.

I'm not saying either is to be condoned. I'm saying there's a major difference.

-Tony

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Joe Z » November 17th, 2004, 10:25 am

Originally posted by AntonioMCabral:
[QB] It strikes me a little too rainbows and lollipops to imagine a sucker in a big con or gambling scam as a portrait of "hope springs eternal".
What, you never saw "Casablanca?" Remember the young guy that is gambling to raise the funds for a couple of exit visas so his fiance and he can escape that Nazi-controlled city in Morocco...and nightclub owner Rick sanctions the fixed roulette game so they win their freedom...if that ain't "hope springs eternal," then I don't know what is!!! Imagine if Bogey fixed it so they lost all their money...!!! Miss Cleo would look like Mother Theresa by comparison. ;)

Regardless of whether the con is sprung on a greedy bastard or a needy grandmother, the end result is the same thing -- a cold-blooded rip-off that takes advantage of the foolish individuals that allow it to happen to them.

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Necromancer » November 17th, 2004, 12:06 pm

Originally posted by Joe Zabel:
While a card cheat may be "romantic" and "admirable" to a finger flinging card worker, his crime is no less repugnant to the card-fleeced victim than it is to the victim taken by the fraudulent medium. A rip-off is a rip-off.
It seems to me a bit simplistic to characterize the patrons of fraudulent psychics as "victims."

Look at the loving followers that surrounded Margery and the other major mediums who were exposed by well-meaning magicians of their day. You'll see that there were a great many people who felt that they benefited by such mediumship. I'd venture to say that the better mediums not only gave their followers the mystical experience that they desired, but led them to feel a sense of closure with the grieving process that had a generally positive impact on their lives.

Does it cause the sitter harm that these feelings were engendered through "fraudulent" means? In my opinion, no more so than when a sitter has a revelation of self-discovery during a tarot reading instead of during a session on the psychologist's couch. (In other words, no demonstrable harm.)

The "fraudulent" psychic business, when conducted responsibly, gives its customers what they want -- and sometimes what they need. Conversely, the card cheat business has value to only one person: the card cheat.

Best,
Neil Tobin
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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby AMCabral » November 17th, 2004, 12:26 pm

Originally posted by Joe Zabel:
What, you never saw "Casablanca?" Remember the young guy that is gambling to raise the funds for a couple of exit visas so his fiance and he can escape that Nazi-controlled city in Morocco...and nightclub owner Rick sanctions the fixed roulette game so they win their freedom...if that ain't "hope springs eternal," then I don't know what is!!!
No, what that is is "Hollywood". You know, like the hooker with a heart of gold. Or who looks like Julia Roberts.

-Tony

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby AMCabral » November 17th, 2004, 12:34 pm

Originally posted by Necromancer:
...Look at the loving followers that surrounded Margery and the other major mediums who were exposed by well-meaning magicians of their day. You'll see that there were a great many people who felt that they benefited by such mediumship. I'd venture to say that the better mediums not only gave their followers the mystical experience that they desired, but led them to feel a sense of closure with the grieving process that had a generally positive impact on their lives.

...
The "fraudulent" psychic business, when conducted responsibly, gives its customers what they want -- and sometimes what they need. Conversely, the card cheat business has value to only one person: the card cheat.

Best,
Neil Tobin
I would question the notion that any psychic conducts their "business" responsibly. As to the possible closure achieved by a psychic sitting, see my previous post re: sock puppets.

Even the card cheats would acknowledge: "Trust in God... but always cut the cards." Faith may have the power to move mountains, but a Christian Scientist who's been run over by a truck might very well want to reconsider a few key concepts...

-Tony

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Joe Z » November 17th, 2004, 12:42 pm

Originally posted by Necromancer:
The "fraudulent" psychic business, when conducted responsibly, gives its customers what they want -- and sometimes what they need. Conversely, the card cheat business has value to only one person: the card cheat.
If you check out the full thread, you will see that by "fraudulent medium" I am referring to the criminal who intentially defrauds his/her sitter (e.g., by removing curses, etc.) as opposed to the sincere spiritualist.

When it comes to recognizing the validity of non-mainstream religious beliefs, I am fully behind respecting an individual's right to subscribe to alternate belief systems, and I will always defend the validity of non-mainstream religious thought.

You are preaching to the choir.

Joe Z.

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Joe Z » November 17th, 2004, 12:49 pm

Originally posted by AntonioMCabral:
No, what that is is "Hollywood". You know, like the hooker with a heart of gold. Or who looks like Julia Roberts.
You posed the "hope springs eternal" scenario, Tony -- I just gave you an example from filmland. However, the desperate, innocent shmuck who is taken by the card cheat is an old, old story that is based on more than a grain of truth.

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby AMCabral » November 17th, 2004, 12:55 pm

Originally posted by Joe Zabel:
You posed the "hope springs eternal" scenario, Tony -- I just gave you an example from filmland. However, the desperate, innocent shmuck who is taken by the card cheat is an old, old story that is based on more than a grain of truth.

Joe Z.
When I said "hope springs eternal", I was refering to the motives of a sitter in a <snort> psychic reading, which IMO are more sincere and heartfelt than those of the sucker in a hustle, who's just a squirrel trying to get a nut. The story of the innocent who gets blasted by the cheat is just that: a story. I never said it's right to take a sucker, but the truly innocent don't fall into these scams in the first place. See Tony Giorgio re: Jerry Andrus.

-Tony

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Necromancer » November 17th, 2004, 2:59 pm

Originally posted by Joe Zabel:
You are preaching to the choir.
Hi Joe. I wasn't trying to specifically preach to you; just to clarify and expound upon your words to better preach to others (e.g., Antonio). Although, as you can see, I don't seem to have made much of an impression.

Best,
Neil
Neil Tobin, Necromancer

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Pete McCabe » November 17th, 2004, 8:05 pm

All preaching is to the choir. They're the only ones who will put up with it.


Anyone who thinks that "exposing" a fraudulent medium would have any effect on the attitudes of believers is in for a big disappointment. Ian Rowland did a segment for ABC Primetime doing some cold readings for a bunch of people. Then, after the readings, the same magician went in and revealed to the people that he was just a magician and none of it was real.

They didn't believe him.

Jonathan Edwards himself could admit that he's a fraud, and it would have little effect on those who believe in him.

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » November 18th, 2004, 6:06 am

Originally posted by Pete McCabe:
All preaching is to the choir.
Money for solace, and we don't talk about the sex.

Inspiration, divination, signs and portents all to be found in the gaming rooms.

The flying fickle finger of fate offers you it's message of 42.

Make of it what He/She/It/They/You will.

How does that song go "Sylvia's mother says..." ;)
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby AMCabral » November 18th, 2004, 8:18 am

I was going to say something else, but I just got a contact high from Jonathan's last post...

-Tony

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby John LeBlanc » November 18th, 2004, 8:50 am

Originally posted by Pete McCabe:
Jonathan Edwards himself could admit that he's a fraud, and it would have little effect on those who believe in him.
Well, not now anyway. That horse is too far out of the gate.

John LeBlanc
http://www.escamoteurettes.com (new entry 11/17/2004)

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby AMCabral » November 18th, 2004, 9:36 am

Originally posted by John W. LeBlanc:
Originally posted by Pete McCabe:
[b]Jonathan Edwards himself could admit that he's a fraud, and it would have little effect on those who believe in him.
Well, not now anyway. That horse is too far out of the gate.

John LeBlanc
http://www.escamoteurettes.com (new entry 11/17/2004) [/b]
Also keep in mind that we're talking about a collective societal mind that accepted "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV" as some form of qualified endorsement of medical advice.

I'm sure people benefitted from that as well. Me, I'll take my open-heart surgery to Johns Hopkins.

-Tony

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » November 18th, 2004, 9:43 am

Somewhere, appeal to authority must seem convenient. People ask actors about the roles they once performed as if there were more than the lines and direction.

Are there really folks out there who believe nuns can fly or that when Elizabeth Montgomery sneezes, Paul Lynde will appear?

Originally posted by AntonioMCabral:
...I'll take my open-heart surgery to Johns Hopkins.
Guess you wouldn't trust Anthony Hopkins for that ;)
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby AMCabral » November 18th, 2004, 10:30 am

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
Are there really folks out there who believe nuns can fly or that when Elizabeth Montgomery sneezes, Paul Lynde will appear?
As superpowers go, I'd absolutely prefer that to spoonbending.

-Tony

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby David Alexander » November 18th, 2004, 11:05 am

Ive known a number of readers and even dated a professional astrologer many years ago. All of them believed that what they were doing was real. They were not fakes in the current use of the word. They all followed the protocols of their specialty tarot card readings, astrological charts, etc. - and produced what they and their clients saw as demonstrable and valuable results. They knew nothing of the Scientific Method or self-validation or selective memory. They were, to themselves and their clients, real.

Unfortunately, there is no real authority for one to go to for authentic advice to lives ones life. Certainly the psychological community has no lock on Truth any more than the myriad of religions, all saying they have The Truth. It is a matter of individual choice and individual needs to whom one goes for advice.

There is, I think, a huge divide between those who give good advice delivered in a Tarot reading, an astrological chart, or a psychologists couch and those who seek to exploit the emotionally crippled be they evangelist who promises a miracle cure, a Gypsy promising to remove a curse, or a therapist who promises to supply all the answers to lifes problems if the client has sufficient insurance to pay for the necessary therapy.

Having been involved in the skeptical community for some years, the problem I see is that the skeptics argument too often fails because it is primarily from authority and counter to individual experience which is nearly always emotional. Self-validation, coupled with the strong emotional context almost always renders the rational point of view impotent. Few people are equipped to handle the emotional onslaught brought on by a skilled reader. When I was an active skeptic, Id try and explain to people what had been done to them. Almost always I was met with a Yes, but answer and then a recitation of their experience, often colored by an emotional filter, self-validation and the sometimes desperate need to be right. After a number of futile attempts, I quit trying.

I had a friend who was a successful writer, highly skilled at his craft. He had an emotional break down when his career fizzled and, in order for him to set himself apart from the rest of society (something to make him special in his own eyes) he decide he was psychic. He started to do readings in a local tea room and would call me and ask me how I could explain this or that experience. I usually could, but his reply was, No. Im psychic! And that, quickly, became the end of the relationship because he didnt want anything countering his view of himself.

Over time, thanks to the other readers in the tea room (who apparently read each other when they werent reading clients) he learned how to do a real reading. When we were still friends and I didnt understand the depth of his need to be psychic, Id offered to send him some material that would give him a solid grounding in the process of cold reading. He was offended, since, as a REAL psychic, he didnt need anything like cheating to be successful at readings.

He did learn through trial and error, experience, and by example from others. My former friend is highly intelligent, an excellent storyteller with a good imagination. He just has an emotional need to be psychic, and so he is. I dont consider him a fake, just a shut-eye doing his best to get through life with his own self-image intact. He is psychic because he is special and special because he is psychic. He is part of the in group and not the out group which is what so many of us believe about ourselves.

In the first Superman film, a young Clark Kent stands before the image of Jor-El just after the Fortress of Solitude had built itself. Jor-El prompts him to ask a question and Clark asks the fundamental philosophical question, Who am I? People are willing to pay a lot of money to a variety of different authorities to have that question answered or to have their own view of themselves validated.

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby AMCabral » November 18th, 2004, 11:41 am

If someone can share an idea with me that I can use to shape my own thinking, I really don't care if that person's a $2000 /hr psychiatrist or a crazy homeless person trying to eat his own shoe.

However, if I have a serious need and someone provides me with an overly-simplistic, Happy Meal version of what I "want" to hear ("You're sick; you're going to get better" "You miss your dead relative; they love you"), I don't care what belief system they've wrapped it in. They're not helping. It's like doing magic in your bedroom and never performing for an audience. It's like looking at thousands of naked centerfolds instead of actually dating people. It's a weak approximation of what it really ought to be.

This discussion is not about anybody's belief system and whether it's right or wrong. It never is. That's why I questioned RK's (IMO) over-simplified "no such thing as ghosts, Scooby-Doo" post waaaaaay back when.
It's about the people and the "service" (or lack of) they provide. And the people who need serious help.

Oh, that's right... I'm a "skeptic". Sorry.
Is anyone even bothering to read what I write?

-Tony

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Re: Sylvia Browne - Real or Fake?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » November 18th, 2004, 11:57 am

Originally posted by AntonioMCabral:
...That's why I questioned RK's (IMO) over-simplified "no such thing as ghosts, Scooby-Doo" post waaaaaay back when....-Tony
Obviously he's missed the last Scooby-Doo movies and several of the later episodes. Probably missed out on Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law too if I may hazard another guess.

Excuse me, my shoe is ringing.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time


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