Thursday, September 29, 2011

Science by magician.

Another stage psychic has been toppled by a stage magician who admits he was once a fake psychic himself. Is it just me, or is this new world where stage magicians operate as scientific debunkers disturbing anyone else?

Paul Zenon is a magician. His magic isn't real and he does not pretend that it is. It's clever and it's often hard to work out how it's done, but it's done with physical trickery. Not with wands and pointy hats. He states that he has used cold reading in the past to trick audiences. Other magicians have done the same.

I recall one British magician who 'proved' that astrology was bunk by writing a newspaper-column-type generalised reading and showing that it applied to everyone. No big surprise, pick any star sign in the newspaper and you can work it into something that's happened in your life. That does not prove that a full reading done by an astrologer who has your precise birth details is wrong. All it proved was that the newspaper columns are generalised junk. We already knew that.

I have no faith in stage psychics. Finding the right number of ghosts to fill a show, with no long blank spaces and no ghost that doesn't relate to the audience, looks dodgy from the outset. If they really are calling up the spirits of the dead to order, that's not mediumship. That's necromancy and anyone involved in that is best avoided.

I don't think any stage psychic is a real medium. A real one would be constantly distracted if they just threw themselves open to any and all ghosts around them and there's no other way to run such a show. Ghosts don't form orderly queues.

One line in that article caught my attention - is still illegal in this country to claim to be a medium...

Well, it's illegal to make money from the claim, but it seems to be just fine if you say 'psychic' instead. The law here is a shambles.

I really don't think you'd ever see a real medium on the stage. It doesn't work to TV schedules. As with the magician's debunking of newspaper astrology, it does not prove there is no real life counterpart. Actually speaking to ghosts is not a profitable occupation, they rarely have anything interesting to say and they don't know the lottery numbers because they can't see the future. Many are a bit hazy on the past, never mind the future. They also tend to turn up more by chance than anything else. Mediums do not summon spirits. That is a different and much darker practice.

Worse, if you go around telling people you see and hear the dead, chances are you'll soon have your very own rubber room. This society is not very forgiving of those who are different from what it defines as normal. So getting mediums to come forward isn't as easy as it sounds.Those who do speak out know they are likely to find themselves on some pretty hefty medication.

Medicine will tell you that 'the voices aren't real' and hold up proof in the form of 'well, the drugs stopped the voices so they were never real'. Were the voices never real, or did the drugs merely block the patient's ability to hear them? Medicine doesn't care. The symptom is gone, the patient is cured. Next!

I agree with the magician's statement that stage mediumship is almost certainly entirely a con. It's entertainment and as long as you see it as entertainment, no problem. Just as you know the magician is using trickery, be aware that the stage psychic is also using trickery.

That does not mean that ghosts don't exist nor does it mean that nobody can see them.

Even so, it does disturb me that this sort of thing is left to stage magicians while science merely dismisses the entire subject with 'I don't believe it'. Science is not supposed to be about belief.

Increasingly, in many areas, it is.


southernwriter said...

Good post, Rom. So true!

Regina Richards said...

I think I feel a reading coming on... Yep, I'm reading you loud and clear, Romulus. I see that you don't like scientists with minds too closed to question or folks with minds so open their brains have fallen out.

Romulus Crowe said...

Am I that obvious?

Yes, I suppose I am.

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