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It's Tough Being Psychic PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

There's an old joke that goes something like this:

A man walks into the police station and says "Officer, I'm pyschic, and I just sensed a murder. It was awful! If you go to 212 Main St. and look in the basement, I'm sure you'll find a man stabbed to death." So the officer brings the psychic along, and upon finding a body there, arrests him. "Why are you arresting me?" the psychic asks. And the officer replies, "If you were really psychic, you'd have known that's what I was going to do, and you wouldn't have come along. And if you're not psychic, you must have killed this guy to know what had happened."

Now imagine a real life scenario.

Swift reader Meg tipped me off to this story from KVOA in Tucson. It seems a home that doubled as a psychic business (on Oracle Road no less) burned badly a few nights ago. So here's the problem... if they were psychic, why didn't they know there was going to be a fire? And if they did know there was going to be a fire, why didn't they try to stop it or tell someone about it ahead of time?

Here's my theory: Maybe they're not psychic and they DID know about it ahead of time. I'll leave you to puzzle out my reasoning.

 

 

 

 

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Emotionalism v Reason
written by Realitysage, March 02, 2009
Case after case can demonstrate the failings of psychic ability but unfortunately the staggering number of true believers will remain unfazed. Belief in such silliness will always proliferate because it fulfills an emotional need. The irony is that there are otherwise intelligent folks who think it's real. Having feelings seem to be the mantra of our times.
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written by daveg703, March 02, 2009
No puzzling required, Jeff- we got it! (At least those of us whose brains function this early on Monday morning.)
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Arson?
written by garyg, March 02, 2009
would explain it
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written by daveg703, March 02, 2009
To Realitysage:
staggering number of true believers
Although I do agree with you, like "military intelligence", isn't "true believers" an oxymoron? Those folks obviously enjoy believing that which is demonstrably false. They desperately need the reassurance of an answer- even a wrong one.
Their motto:

"I do prefer that such is so;
I'd hate to think that I don't know."
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Smores In Your Future
written by Josh111485, March 02, 2009
If I were psychic and I knew there was going to be a fire...I would've brought smores. At least you can enjoy the fire, even if it's burned down your business. smilies/grin.gif
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written by Kuroyume, March 02, 2009
Caller X spewed:
Do psychics claim to be omniscient?


No. They claim to have information about events (past, present, or future) without using the normal senses or knowledge gained by learning but instead provided by some murky source beyond these normal means (from the 'other side', ghosts, some god, spirit guides, and so forth). To be useful, the information has to be clear enough to be applied successfully in a significant number of cases. Otherwise, of what use are they at all? Claiming vagueness and interpretability points to a less reliable means of gaining information than those normal ones already present in us 'non-gifted' people.

What's the use of being able to 'predict' lottery numbers for others if you couldn't accomodate yourself first in this regard and then offer your 'gifts' as free services now that you can live comfortably? Logically, the entire idea of psychic powers makes no sense if the only advantage is applied to others in very indeterminate ways. At least the psychis who stick to vague warm-fuzzies aren't pinning themselves down. Those who provide more specific information or services (such as supposedly helping police solve crimes) either work or don't. They have never worked - ever. Sylvia Browne skirts both sides (warm-fuzzies and medical specifics). Guess what - she is just a big failure at the specifics. Anyone could guess that an elderly person might (hmmm):

- be hard of hearing (wow)
- have osteoperosis (yeah, okay)
- have vision troubles (yipdee doo)
- have memory issues (alzheimers, never heard of it)
- wear dentures
- etc. and so forth

It's like determining that rabbits might be eaten by predators. Well, big friggin' duh. They are the common meal of hawks, eagles, osprey, wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, lynx, cats, dogs, etc. and so forth.

Some people are just gullible idiots...
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written by daveg703, March 02, 2009
To Caller X:
It would be tempting to respond in your own ad hominemmanner, as a reaction to your unwarranted and embarrassing attack on Jeff- the very person that provides the opportunity for you to make public display of an obnoxious attitude and inappropriate comments, but I will not. I will simply offer the reminder that this forum is for the open and civil expression and critiquing of ideas, not for slinging mud or manure from your personal hoard. No one here needs to cast aspersions on your character or your manners- your own words have done that quite well.
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written by pxatkins, March 02, 2009
Could it be reflective of the exchange between two mobsters at the "Bad-a-Bing" nightclub:

"How bad was that fire at your place last Friday?"

"Shhh ... that's NEXT Friday" smilies/cheesy.gif
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written by Willy K, March 02, 2009
Please educate me!
When I've had conversations with believers about psychics and/or other supernatural stuff they always seem to change the course of the conversion whenever I make a point they have no rational response for.

I was talking with one woman about psychics and she used this phrase I've heard some many times before, "But then how do you explain XYZ?" The XYZ would be some unrelated aspect, a non sequitur maybe?

The other phrase I always hear is, and it was used by "Laura" in a previous Swift blog, is "they knew things they couldn't possibly know."

Are there definitions for these conversational tricks? Or are they just part of the family of logical fallacies?
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written by daveg703, March 02, 2009
smilies/grin.gifRe: Please educate me!
Easy for YOU to say WillyK, but it is highly unlikely that we'll ever hear those words uttered by any "believer". That phrase, especially when preceded by "I don't know.", is anathema to the woo-woo crowd.
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written by daveg703, March 02, 2009
Addendum
To answer your question: You should find The Baloney Detection Kit useful in that regard.
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written by Cuddy Joe, March 02, 2009
"Are there definitions for these conversational tricks? Or are they just part of the family of logical fallacies?"

The conversational tricks are symptoms, so to speak, of logical fallacies, psychological effects, communal reinforcement, and myriad other personal dynamics, but have no specific definitions, of which I'm aware anyway.

Mostly they are the result of internal confirmation bias, made powerful by the need to believe in a credo consolans, usually that of speaking to or learning of the welfare of deceased loved ones, the plausibility of which is falsely established via basic religious tenets such as the 'soul' and its ability to survive corporeal death. This is powerful stuff to the grieving and to those in need of comforting beliefs. This is also what makes psychics so despicable. In the interest of income, Sylvia Browne once told a family whose child was missing that she was dead, so sorry, but I'm a psychic and I know these things. The child was later found alive. Browne figured there was a greater chance she was dead and went with that guess knowing full well the marketing value of a correct guess. Doesn't get much lower than that.
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written by Cuddy Joe, March 02, 2009
PS: Given the value of being able to communicate with deceased loved ones, isn't it odd that so very few - if any - priests and other pastoral counselors who deal with grief issues ever get the psychic gene? Millenia of priests and none of them psychic. Tought to explain why psychic powers avoid certain disciplines, even avoiding coincidence. It's almost like psychic powers aren't real.
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written by kodabar, March 02, 2009
Hmm. I dunno. I find myself agreeing with CallerX somewhat. This is really just "Some psychics had a fire and they didn't see it coming. Ha ha". This story doesn't prove anything about psychics; it's just an unfortunate incident where we can laugh at the opposition. Ha ha, some people were in a fire. Ha ha. They've lost some of their possessions. Ha ha They've probably been quite frightened. Ha ha. Maybe someone was hurt. Ha ha?
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To the person who calls himself X
written by BillyJoe, March 02, 2009
Yes, I thik I have you aright: a comedian, but a particularly inept and miserable one, whose double entendres stick out like the proverbial.

But, goddamn, I have to agree with kodaboar.

BJ

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written by Caller X, March 03, 2009
written by daveg703, March 02, 2009
To Caller X:
It would be tempting to respond in your own ad hominemmanner, as a reaction to your unwarranted and embarrassing attack on Jeff- the very person that provides the opportunity for you to make public display of an obnoxious attitude and inappropriate comments, but I will not. I will simply offer the reminder that this forum is for the open and civil expression and critiquing of ideas, not for slinging mud or manure from your personal hoard. No one here needs to cast aspersions on your character or your manners- your own words have done that quite well.
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You're right. I was out of line, over the top, some would even say douching it up. I let my frustration at the recent spate of bad articles by Jeff and Alison get the better of me. But I do have a way with words, and I are a good typer (I know, never start a sentence with a conjunction and don't jump neutral to ground). I blame Asperger's.
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written by LovleAnjel, March 03, 2009
I think Law and Order already covered the "murderer pretending to be a psychic" gag.
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written by Kuroyume, March 03, 2009
Hmm. I dunno. I find myself agreeing with CallerX somewhat. This is really just "Some psychics had a fire and they didn't see it coming. Ha ha". This story doesn't prove anything about psychics; it's just an unfortunate incident where we can laugh at the opposition. Ha ha, some people were in a fire. Ha ha. They've lost some of their possessions. Ha ha They've probably been quite frightened. Ha ha. Maybe someone was hurt. Ha ha?


No one is laughing at their misfortune. We're just wondering how useful their 'predictive' powers could possibly be if they cannot even 'predict' misfortunes in their own lives. That doesn't provide good 'evidence' of their powers to predict events in others', does it? It isn't funny, it's pathetic.

It is the irony of the situation that sheds light on why psychic abilities are all up 'here' (points to head) and from nowhere else.
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written by Cuddy Joe, March 03, 2009
Kuroyume has it - it's the irony of purported 'psychic' powers that always fail the psychics when it really counts. Other ironies involved famous missing people - Judge Crater, Jimmy Hoffa, et al, and the fact that no psychic has ever psychically communicated with their spirits to discern the location of their bodies and what happened to them.

While I don't find it ha-ha funny, I am glad to hear a house used to scam local citizens has burned to the ground, just as it's no loss when a crack house burns down (assuming no injuries).
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Ethical dilemma
written by Rustylizard, March 04, 2009
Psychics owned the home, so if they were prescient enough to buy lots and lots of insurance, would that have been cheating? If they weren't really psychics, but were still dead certain they needed to buy lots and lots of insurance, would that have been cheating? If they didn't buy lots and lots of insurance because they couldn't tell the future and were therefore impostors, was that cheating? All cheaters aren't psychic, but do all psychics cheat? Such fertile ground for a discussion of ethics!



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Other Psychic News
written by RobNYNY1957, March 05, 2009
From an article in this month's Vanity Fair magazine about how Bernie Madoff ripped off his friends:

“If you want to know about Bernie Madoff,” said Mary T. Browne, the renowned psychic and author, who counsels many heavy hitters on Wall Street, “you need to talk to my friend Carmen Dell’Orefice.”

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2009/04/madoff200904?printable=true¤tPage=all

If Browne is such a renowed psychic, why not giver her friend a little heads up on the Ponzi scheme?
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written by ironflange, March 13, 2009
Maybe they needed the insurance money, and just didn't tell anybody. smilies/grin.gif Although the insurance company may want to know why they didn't see it coming.
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