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Where's the Justice? PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

In recent months, there've been a few satisfying examples of how some police departments have moved in on "psychic" scams, arrested the perpetrators, and even obtained penalties against them. In San Mateo, California, Janet Adams, 42, a woman who advertised herself as a psychic was charged with taking $80,330 from an 85-year-old woman by claiming that both their husbands would die if the woman didn't hand over money. She is being held on $500,000 bail at the San Mateo County Jail. Adams came up with additional colorful - and false - stories about funeral expenses and a fictional son's medical treatments, and has a history of victimizing women in this way. In 2004, she spent two years in state prison on a theft conviction, while working as a palm reader.

Just in September, 27-year-old Lisa Marie Miller of San Francisco conned a woman out of $108,000 and talked her into buying her a sports car in exchange for freeing her of evil spirits. She was sentenced to two months in county jail.

Gina Marie Marks, 35, is the latest - local - fortune teller to face fraud charges. The self-proclaimed "medium" told five Broward County women that she would rid their money of demons that brought them bad luck. The clients handed Marks nearly $65,000 in cash for spiritual cleansing, and never saw the money again, though Marks had assured them it would be returned to them. Under the name Regina Milbourne, Marks co-authored a book titled Miami Psychic: Confessions of a Confidante, about her experiences as a medium. She's currently on the run, and being sought.

Of course we must wonder at how anyone with any degree of common sense can believe such utter nonsense, but let's look at the worst that these frauds can expect from the law. As with those who sell phony merchandise for years, come to the eventual attention of the state or federal authorities, and are convicted and put out of business, these con artists might pay a fine or serve short prison terms. Lisa Marie Miller was locked up for two months in exchange for $108,000 and a sports car. That sounds like a good rate of pay, I'd say. Will Adams or Marks get the same degree of penalty for their heartless scams? If so, what are WE doing, behaving ourselves and acting honestly toward others? The frauds - spoon-benders, fortune tellers, quacks, "psychics," "healers - are doing a lot better than most of us, and the present recession can only improve their fortunes as the grieving, desperate, elderly and naïve suckers continue to flock to be fleeced...

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Fugitive Listing?
written by Radwaste, December 25, 2008
Sir(s), does the Broward County Sheriff have a link with details you can forward? Google returns several hits for Ms. Marks, and some of these have photos, but I don't put much stock in the accuracy of second-hand news.
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If you get some time to answer, Lowly rated comment [Show]
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written by Willy K, December 25, 2008
Randi, has this ever happened to you?

You tell someone that psychics, mediums, etc. are all complete frauds trying to separate people from their money.

And... the person you're trying to educate gets mad at you and say things like "you don't understand..." "they must be real, they told me something they couldn't possibly know!"

I told this to another guest at a friends party once and I haven't been invited back since. smilies/sad.gif

How can you help someone who gets angry at you for trying to help? smilies/cry.gif

Will K
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written by yarro, December 25, 2008
Personally I do not believe in long prison sentences for economic/financial crimes. It would be better to strip them completely of their assets. And if there are none, they can pay back by working for the community.
In my line of work I regurlarly encountered tax fraude and my experience is that the perps are more hurt by the heavy penalties than the prison sentences.

@Willie K.
A couple of years ago I regularly visited meetings of a paranormal group with friends, just to see what kind of woo woo was on tap. "Know thy enemy".
One evening the guest speaker was someone who tried to explain the paranormal with all kinds of semi-scientific nonsense. Even Einstein was brought into it. And all kinds of impressive formulas were written on a blackboard to further prove the speakers theories. And that's where he went wrong.;d One of my friends who came along is a theoretical phycisist who pointed out all the errors in the man's formulas. The man went beserk. The atmosphere in the hall became very hostile. We were rudely asked by the organisers to leave, although we did nothing wrong and stayed calm and collected. That's how people can react if you start to undermine their believe in the supernatural.
From that moment on the meetings were held in another venue and no longer publicly announced, so we couldn't attend other meetings. smilies/sad.gif Which was a shame because it was (almost) always great fun.
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written by BillyJoe, December 26, 2008
mankindgotitallwrong,

I think you need to visit the forums - the Science, Mathematics and Medine forum.

But avoid long posts like the one you posted above. Start off with the first point that you do not understand and go from there. Also, please avoid coming up with any theories of your own untill you completely understand the prevailing theories - because your theory has to explain something they do not.

BJ
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Let's play: Pick the Error in James Randi's Article
written by BillyJoe, December 26, 2008
Hey, there's always at least one error! :cool:

Lisa Marie Miller was locked up for two months in exchange for $108,000 and a sports car.

Not according to this report:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/....DTL&tsp=1
A Santa Clara County judge sentenced her to two months in jail and five years of probation. The judge also ordered her to pay full restitution, of which she has already paid $61,000, authorities said. Miller was also barred from ever again engaging in fortune telling, psychic readings, tarot card readings, love spell castings, palm readings and spiritual advising.


Hmmm....
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written by BillyJoe, December 26, 2008
And from here:
http://findarticles.com/p/arti..._n31115191
According to Deputy District Attorney Cherie Bourlard, Miller has paid back $61,000 of the total she scammed out of the victim ... "more important than sending fake psychics to prison for a long time, is making sure they pay back the victims ... Restitution is first and foremost,'' Bourlard said, "If you sent them to jail, you'd never see a penny out of them.''
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Analyzing the problem
written by danieljref, December 26, 2008
@Willy K

How can you help someone who gets angry at you for trying to help?


I'm not sure if this responds your question, but it is just one thing I picked up over the years.

First, you have to analyze what is the help that you are giving. Most people that go to psychics are just looking for comfort. They "don't care" about money, if in exchange they can have some peace of spirit. So telling them that they are losing money, won't mean a thing to them.

Second, most of the things you say will sound very different depending on "how" you say it. Maybe when you say psychics are fraud, people are understanding that all that they said is bogus, including the things that are true (picked up by cold reading) and instead of criticizing the psychic, people think that you are criticizing them (assuming that wasn't your intention). And you also have to watch out if you are not (indirectly) calling people stupid, because if this is the case, it shouldn't be a surprise that you never received another invitation.
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written by BillyJoe, December 26, 2008
Daniel,

Good points. smilies/smiley.gif

Sometimes people just want to believe because it is warm and comforting. Trying to rationalise someone out of something that they emotionalised into is doomed to fail for most of these people.

BJ
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BillyJoe
written by mankindgotitallwrong, December 26, 2008
BillyJoe,

I love writing. And I love writing long posts. And I doubt you can stop me from doing that !

I am not mad about you against my long post. On the other hand, you seem to have read my entire post and I am pretty happy about that !

My theory is in complete harmony with all existing theories and I have not disputed them at all. Sad you did not notice that. I am only trying to explore beyond an accepted fact about energy in whatever form. Now, i doubt you even have any scientific thinking/questioning abilities becasue you seem to have missed my simple fact.

Please understand that when I said I am a complete non-believer in paranormal phenomena, I MEAN IT.

If you wish to discuss further, I would be most happy because I am looking for answers too, as you are.

Regards.
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written by BillyJoe, December 26, 2008
mankindgotitallwrong,

I love writing. And I love writing long posts. And I doubt you can stop me from doing that !

No, it was just a suggestion. Really.

I am not mad about you against my long post. On the other hand, you seem to have read my entire post and I am pretty happy about that !

But I like your attitude! smilies/smiley.gif

My theory is in complete harmony with all existing theories and I have not disputed them at all. Sad you did not notice that. I am only trying to explore beyond an accepted fact about energy in whatever form.

Well, maybe I did mistake your meaning. Alternatively it could have been your failure to communicate smilies/wink.gif

For example, what did you mean by these apparently false or confused statements (take your pick):
"there really cannot be a beginning or end to 'energy'"
"Even the Big Bang, happened ... because of energies existing at that time."
"There is loss of energy in creation and that could be in any form, light, heat, sound, whatever."
"And since creation of energy is not 100% efficient ... there is some loss of energy somewhere."
"So is the case with death. That again is destruction of some energy."
"an imbalance of energy creates an unstable condition in the universe thus may be giving rise to the millions of different natural phenomena"
"If all energies do not cancel out each other, then there are residual energies just 'floating' around in the universe."
"people's claim of having touched an external being/ supernatural form could just be an experience of such residual energies..."

Now, i doubt you even have any scientific thinking/questioning abilities becasue you seem to have missed my simple fact.

I doubt that you would know about my abilities one way or anoher from that single post. smilies/wink.gif
How about you try for a simple statement, simply stated. smilies/smiley.gif
Or a simple question, simply stated.
Just a suggestion though. smilies/wink.gif

Please understand that when I said I am a complete non-believer in paranormal phenomena, I MEAN IT.

Possibly. But I could also have said: I've heard that one before!

If you wish to discuss further, I would be most happy because I am looking for answers too, as you are. smilies/smiley.gif

If you start a thread in the forum post a link here. I am happy to participate but there are others who could also make some valuable contributions and I doubt, from the evidence so far, that you will find them here. smilies/cool.gif

BJ
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BillyJoe
written by mankindgotitallwrong, December 26, 2008
BillyJoe,
I am glad you are open to discussion. As you say, we can start a forum but lets see if we can get past some of our own objections and come to a common ground. If that happnes, we can always invite anyone who is interested.

Let me try to explain what you asked.

Firstly, by 'energy' I do not mean any divine energy or any divine intervention.( I am sorry if my writing made you think so )
1. "There really cannot be a beginning or an end to 'energy'".
This is straight out of the law of conservation of energy. Energy can neither be created not be destroyed.
2. Even the Big Bang, happened ... because of energies existing at that time."
I am not stating this as a fact. I believe the circumstances that led to the big-bang could be caused by the energies that existed at that time. Again, I am not disputing the big-bang theory itself. Just before the big-bang, for example, there was a point of singularity ( or so it is almost proved ). Now, from that singularity for the explosion to happen, there were certain energies ( chemical or whatever ) that were reacting within the singularity. and we all know that everything, just about everything in the universe that we know moves or acts because of some form energy. Thats all I meant.

The thing about people experiencing divine/external 'touch' could just be the wind blowing for all we know. There again, what I mean to say is that the wind rally was blowing from high pressure to low pressure area and the person who felt the 'touch' was just in between.

I am trying to understand and probe the possibility of everything really happening because of some form of this energy movement ( it could be chemical, physical, biological whatever ).

just that I have too many thoughts on my mind so am not clear and unable to put it simply.

And yes, I sure do not know about your scientific thinking/abilites as much as you would not know if I have read any science, physics or medicine forums.

lets have you writing some more....

Regards.
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written by BillyJoe, December 26, 2008
Firstly, by 'energy' I do not mean any divine energy or any divine intervention.( I am sorry if my writing made you think so )

No, I did not think that.
But, either you do not fully understand conservation of energy or you do not express your understanding very clearly.

1. "There really cannot be a beginning or an end to 'energy'".
This is straight out of the law of conservation of energy. Energy can neither be created not be destroyed.

Not really.
I'm not sure, but I think you have not realised one important fact: Gravity is negative energy.
So....In the beginning there was nothing, including no energy. Then, there was energy - in positive and negative forms - with the total still being zero. But now it could no longer be said that there was nothing.

2. Even the Big Bang, happened ... because of energies existing at that time."
I am not stating this as a fact. I believe the circumstances that led to the big-bang could be caused by the energies that existed at that time. Again, I am not disputing the big-bang theory itself. Just before the big-bang, for example, there was a point of singularity ( or so it is almost proved ). Now, from that singularity for the explosion to happen, there were certain energies ( chemical or whatever ) that were reacting within the singularity. and we all know that everything, just about everything in the universe that we know moves or acts because of some form energy. Thats all I meant.

The problem is that I still do not know what you mean. smilies/sad.gif

The thing about people experiencing divine/external 'touch' could just be the wind blowing for all we know. There again, what I mean to say is that the wind rally was blowing from high pressure to low pressure area and the person who felt the 'touch' was just in between.

Possibly.
But the more reasonable explanation is that is the result of something happening in the brain. You are aware, aren't you, of experiments where stimulation of certain centres in the brain duplicate these experriences, and that PET scans can localise exactly where in the brain the neurological activity that correspionds to these experiences are occuring.
...anmd there's no answer blowing in the wind! smilies/smiley.gif

I am trying to understand and probe the possibility of everything really happening because of some form of this energy movement ( it could be chemical, physical, biological whatever ).

As I have already said, first try to understand the existing explanations before deciding that they are inadequate to the task and in need of your own theory.

just that I have too many thoughts on my mind so am not clear and unable to put it simply.

Then pull them out one at a time. You never know, someone may be able to help you out. I still think the forum is a better place though.

BJ

And yes, I sure do not know about your scientific thinking/abilites as much as you would not know if I have read any science, physics or medicine forums.

Well, that was a pretty big post. My first impression is that you have read a bit but understood not much. Sorry, I may be wrong, but what I think you need is background knowledge.
I know nothing about set theory. I tried to learn a little on the forum, but some kind poster informed me: if you think you can learn about set theory on the internet, you are sadly mistaken - you need to buy a book and attend lectures! I would like to pass on that advice.

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BillyJoe
written by mankindgotitallwrong, December 26, 2008
1. I perfectly understand the law of conservation of energy. And that is why i put my thoughts forth.
2. I am not saying the laws of energy are inadequate. I am saying the law could be used to further investigate the universe.
3. "in the beginning there was nothing".....This is one of the things I want to delve deeper into. I know for sure in the scientific community, there still is no absolute acceptance of there being "nothing" in the beginning. Laws of conservations of energy could not have possibly started after the 'beginning'. And I am saying 'could not have possibly' because we sure want to probe deeper, further.
4. At certain times, one can just come out with an explanation even without a mathematical model and maybe sometime in the future it could be proved mathematically. I am no mathematician so all I can do is only stretch my imagination keeping all relevant scientific facts in mind.

Does it hurt to think wild? and this is only thinking. not stating it as a fact.

C'mon.
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written by BillyJoe, December 26, 2008
mankindgotitallwrong,

"in the beginning there was nothing".....This is one of the things I want to delve deeper into. I know for sure in the scientific community, there still is no absolute acceptance of there being "nothing" in the beginning.

It's a philosophical argument. There was never nothing, because time, itself, commnenced with the the Big Bang singularity.

Laws of conservations of energy could not have possibly started after the 'beginning'. And I am saying 'could not have possibly' because we sure want to probe deeper, further.

I'm sorry, I don't understand this.

Does it hurt to think wild?

No, but I think we should leave it to those who know the physics inside and out.

BJ
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BillyJoe
written by mankindgotitallwrong, December 26, 2008
I will leave the physics to those who know it inside and out and sideways too. But I will observe my surrounding and my universe and will think about it , though the thinking maybe based on the knowledgeable physicists. I may not end up with any conclusion at all. But atleast I chose to think.
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Where do I sign up for that kind of "punishment?!"
written by Desertphile, December 27, 2008
Please, state of California, lock me up for two months after giving me $108,000 and a sports car.
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written by BillyJoe, December 27, 2008
Desertphile,

It's a good idea to read the other comments first before responding yourself. (That way you won't miss important facts not mentioned in the article and make a complete fool of yourself. smilies/grin.gif)

The sentence included the following:
1) Two months jail
2) 5 years probation
3) Full restitution of the $108,000
4) Barred from ever again engaging in psychic readings etc

As part of the explanation for the short sentence, the magistrate said:
"More important than sending fake psychics to prison for a long time, is making sure they pay back the victims"

Note also that she has already paid back $61,000

regards,
BillyJoe

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written by BillyJoe, December 27, 2008
mankindgotitallwrong,

I will leave the physics to those who know it inside and out and sideways too. But I will observe my surrounding and my universe and will think about it , though the thinking maybe based on the knowledgeable physicists. I may not end up with any conclusion at all. But atleast I chose to think.

smilies/smiley.gif

Thinking is a good thing.

But it can lead you astray. For example, thinking about inifinity, the thought occurred to me once that infinity exists only as a mathematical abstraction, but not in reality. However, I can't find any mathematicians who agree with me. Somehow I am missing something, but I can't understand what it is. Maybe I should have studied mathematics beyond secondary school. smilies/sad.gif

regards,
BillyJoe
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Infinity and wild theories
written by cleeray1, December 30, 2008
BillyJoe: infinity is a mathematical abstraction used to describe an arbitrarily repeatable process (which of course has a finite representation in a mathematician's head). A mathematician's idea of "existence" doesn't necessarily match that of a natural scientist. However, "existence" becomes a slippery concept if you detach it from the ability to observe and attach it to the ability to imagine.

mankindgotitallwrong: The quality of a theory is measured using verifiable predictions that can be drawn from it. If your "theory" cannot be tested experimentally, but rather is constructed to be consistent with some postulates, it is on par with religion and mathematics (the difference being that religion is by far more lax about consistency). On the other hand, make some good predictions in an area where others have failed and then smart people may be inclined to listen to your theory.

In general, thinking doesn't hurt, but it can be wasteful, especially if it begins with ignorance and ends with words.
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written by BillyJoe, January 05, 2009
BillyJoe: infinity is a mathematical abstraction used to describe an arbitrarily repeatable process (which of course has a finite representation in a mathematician's head). A mathematician's idea of "existence" doesn't necessarily match that of a natural scientist. However, "existence" becomes a slippery concept if you detach it from the ability to observe and attach it to the ability to imagine.

I am glad to hear that.
Perhaps I've only discussed infinity with too many mathematicians.
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