Thursday, October 15, 2009

Another rant against fakery.

Still very tired. It's the random nature of sleep at the moment, while I try to catch this thing on camera. It's started making noises that sound like something's fallen in another room. Nothing ever has. Just auditory illusions. Now I'm getting seriously annoyed with it.

If only I had an easy job, like pretending to be able to contact celebrities. Because there's so little information to look up beforehand when hunting down dead celebrities, isn't there? It actually took longer than I expected, but now there is to be a (no doubt vague but 'successful') attempt to speak with the Moonwalking Dead.

Making contact with celebrity ghosts is futile even if it were true (and if it's on TV, it's not). Every minute detail of their lives is documented. It is easy to hunt down some obscure facts that even the most ardent fan didn't know about and spout them as if they were some great revelation, conveniently discovered later in a footnote in a little-known book of which only five copies survive, but luckily one of them is in the back pocket of the 'psychic'. Nothing will ever be proved with celebrity ghosthunting. Not a thing. For two very good reasons.

Any part-time sceptic can tear apart any information provided by such an investigation. Five minutes on the internet will provide any and all information you might need to fake the investigation and ten seconds is enough for a sceptic to prove that what you claimed as 'previously unknown' is actually easy to find. It's not like relaying information from Doris O'Flaherty, a 17th century seamstress who appears in no history books, regarding a hollow wall where her husband hid their few coins from robbers and which is still there now. That would be strong evidence but you never see that on the TV. All they ever get are the standard, well-known facts that anyone could have learned in much less time than it would take me to prepare a lecture.

The other reason is that ghosts don't come to order. Calling up specific dead people is not mediumship, it's necromancy and that's nasty. Real mediums (oh yes there are, for any sceptics reading) never make any money from their ability because it cannot be done. You can't go to a real medium and talk to Granny or Uncle Tobias or Aunt Edna. Real mediums never know who might happen by. Or where. Or when. There is no way to make a buck from it, and it's nearly impossible to test under laboratory conditions.

It is very easy to test a fake under laboratory conditions. It is often not so easy to prove they are faking but a good rule of thumb is that if they start with names like 'John' or 'James', they are 99% likely to be fishing for a cold reading session. Those are very common names and okay, they'll be common among ghosts too but even so, when every reading starts with those names, you've ticked the first 'fake' box. The second box gets ticked when they move on to more and more random names.

Those fakes leave themselves open to ridicule and that's fair enough, but then the assumption is made that there are no real mediums because of the fakes, which is not logic and not science. That same logic would dictate that, since I've seen a few fake Rolexes but never seen a real one, then all Rolexes are fakes and there are no real ones. Someone who's seen a real Rolex might tell me about them but I could just scoff and refuse to listen. A photo? Faked. A recording of it ticking? Faked. Show me a real one? Nah, it's done with holograms, mirrors, hypnosis, suggestion and mass hysteria. I could hold the 'there are no Rolexes' line indefinitely. It's very, very easy to take the full sceptic stance.

If you follow the link to the ridicule you'll see that he fails, but not the way a real psychic would fail. A real psychic 'fails' by finding no contact at all. A fake psychic fails by finding loads of contact, none of which is real.

Amateur cold readers are easily caught out. You lead them into a fictitious series of people and events, none of which ever existed or happened, and let them assert their confidence in their cold reading skills. The more professional readers might catch on to what you're up to and try to divert. Let them. Go with the diversion and make that a fictitious line too.

You'll know you might have a real psychic when you set up everything, start the experiment, wait a while and they say 'I'm really sorry but I'm afraid it's not going to work. Nobody's here'. A fake will always find someone and it will always be someone related to you or someone else in the room. Real psychics sometimes - often, fortunately for their sanity - get nothing. Fakes never fail.

I doubt any laboratory experiment will ever prove a psychic except by chance. Since it depends on the appearance of an agent outside the control of either the experimenter or the subject - a ghost - it will never be reproducible to scientific requirements.

The best way to obtain proof would be to find a way to capture a ghost. I've always been against any attempt to do that since, if ghosts are dead people, it's the same as kidnapping.

However, the thing in my house is slowly changing my mind. It's not human and it's earning itself a prison cell night by night.

I'll have to start wondering about how to make one.

1 comment:

Astrology said...

Hmm. I thought your guest flew off. Where did I get that idea?

Anyway, I think the MJ seance is an eye rolling "eyedea." As if.

But I do believe in psychic ability, and although I have never professed to have any, something unusual happened to me recently.

I commented on a writer's blog that if he thinks he's busy now, just wait til he sees his edits (manuscripts are often with an editor for months before the author receives the requested changes an editor asks him to make). He got them the very next morning. He wrote and asked me how I knew. Truth is, I didn't know. I don't think. *shrugs* Strange coincidence, except I don't believe in coincidence.

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