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In Pursuit of Flummery PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

psychicreaderWell, the infamous Marks family of Fort Lauderdale, professional gypsies who use the venerable “bazhoor” – rhymes with “azure” – to separate the terminally beguiled from their money, is in the headlines again. Rose Marks, currently considered the head of the family, is depending on her lawyer Michael Gottlieb, who explains that Rose and her eight family members were only helping their “clients” via their devout religious convictions. In the current atmosphere of jaw-dropping naivety about mystical religious claims, so well promulgated and flouted in the colorful Republican contest for the White House, the Florida gypsies were just trying to remove the obviously bad “vibrations” that radiated from their clients' cash and jewelry, explains Rose. Those evil spirits, whether of the Christian or the Romany variety, can be tough to banish, and sometimes the money and the baubles must be kept in treatment for a long time, as we all know.

In fact, police investigations show, the Marks family held onto some $40,000,000 to perform the cleansing process, which is apparently still in progress, since the loot has now gone bye-bye…!

Mr. Gottlieb stoutly defends his clients, insisting that their religion allows them to do this, by constitutional right. My own examination of the U.S. Constitution has – so far – failed to spot the applicable clauses that Mr. Gottlieb’s keen eyes have found, though he embraces the First Amendment – which guarantees all citizens’ rights to freedom of religion. Lawyer Gottlieb also respects that religion, it seems, if it also involves stealing.

Another of the Marks family, Nancy, also claims to be only 42 years old, another questionable statement that is being looked into, contained in 24 pages of legalese – an archaic tongue spoken by lawyers.

Lawyer Gottlieb wrote:

Nancy Marks' conduct is rooted in her religion and spirituality. Based upon this prosecution, the defendant has lost her livelihood and has been unable to make a living using her historical religious and spiritual gifts.

The Marks family not only sanctifies jewelry and cash – permanently – but conducts hand-waving and mumbling “healing” procedures very similar to the popular “reiki” moves also used by the wife of popular TV physician Dr. Mehmet Oz* to “even out the body auras” of the ailing – and both sets of practitioners are equally ineffective, so “real” medical science is hand-in-glove” with the Romanies, it seems.

But if the customers were unhappy with the “cleansing” or “healing” procedures, they were assured that they had a money-back guarantee, yet somehow, that promise was never met, probably because the Marks family is in such heavy demand, and can’t be expected to attend to such onerous, frivolous, requests. After all, their stylish mansion and the $1,800,000 in gold coins and luxury cars that federal agents discovered there, must be regularly counted and maintained. That seems only fair.

The Marks family members were released on bail pending trial, though there is no evidence that they were restrained by electronic trackers or by any other means that would prevent them fleeing jurisdiction of the courts.

*no, not a citizen of that foreign country, to our best knowledge

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Psychic ability and talking to ghosts? You’re either a fraud or mentally ill.
written by CoffeeLovingSkeptic, April 11, 2012
http://coffeelovingskeptic.com/?p=731
Even as we comfortably settle ourselves into the 21st Century with the leaps and bounds of scientific knowledge available for all to see, belief in the supernatural does not seem to be in much of a decline. People regularly make assertions that they have seen ghosts, believe in psychic ability, pray to God(s) etc...
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The old "let me take that (valuable) and cursed thing off your hands trick
written by AmyD, April 11, 2012
This makes me think of the SyFy nonsense called "Haunted Collector" where people invite this guy's team to come into their home or business to find some haunted or cursed antique collectable which is far too dangerous to live with and he graciously takes it away to place in his haunted museum, snort.
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written by Willy K, April 11, 2012
My Lord! You have pieces of paper in you pocket that have been mysteriously inscribed with the likeness' of DEAD PRESIDENTS! Some evil person must have placed a curse upon you! I can help you rid yourself of this curse! Send me all of the cursed papers and you shall be cleansed! I need no payment of any kind, I do this out of my deeply held and constitutional religious beliefs. Send me the papers, Praise the Lord!

/sarcasm off smilies/wink.gif
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Beggars belief
written by drxym, April 12, 2012
We're used to hearing of the odd "psychic" con artist robbing someone of their cash to "cleanse" it or whatever but it sounds like this family have turned it into an industry. How is it even possible they have gone on so long doing this?
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written by I-Wonder, April 12, 2012
written by Caller X

"I for one, applaud their moxie and work ethic...."

Sure, Caller X. As you would for Bernie Madoff and Ted Bundy....booooring.
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written by I-Wonder, April 12, 2012
As to whether there exists any meaningful difference between these gypsies and mainstream religions, in legal accommodations, I’ll relay an astonishing retort I once heard from the mouth of our State's House majority leader. He wanted to ease our minds - in consideration of whether employers should be forced accommodate certain religious practices, IE a facial covering/veil - that such protections would only extend to "bona fide" religions. Yes “bona fide”. And that offered, without a hint of Irony, to an assembly of our chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. Hearing the phrase (actually the concept of government determining]/i])“bona fide religion” pass the lips of a government leader should evoke chills everywhere, but was lost on him when I pointed it out. Some distance yet to go, indeed.
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written by MadScientist, April 12, 2012
What irony - aren't the marks meant to be the victims?
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I guess I'm gonna be mr. politically correct here
written by Zoroaster, April 12, 2012
And ask everyone to please examine and consider their use of the term "gypsy". Whether it rises to the level of an ethnic slur could be a matter for debate but when I see Mr. Randi use the phrase "professional gypsies" I wonder, would he be as comfortable using the words "professional Jew" to refer to a loan shark. Wikipedia has a great article on the history of the Roma.
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written by Caller X, April 13, 2012
The correct term for professional Jew is "Shylock" or "New York lawyer".
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written by I-Wonder, April 16, 2012
Zoroaster wrote:
….and ask everyone to please examine and consider their use of the term "gypsy".

Maybe. It's worth learning more about. But I think you may be trying a little too hard to find an insult, here; a too common practice that has tended to tarnish thoughtful, polite conduct.

A loan shark a professional Jew? A poor analogy to the topic, again revealing an unhelpful hypersensitivity to stereotypes. A closer analogy? If a Jew used the practices and trappings of his culture, or of Judaism to rip off his marks, then grasped for First Amendment religious liberty as a shield from prosecution, then he rightly could be labeled a professional Jew.
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