The JREF sends our condolences to Sylvia's family and loved ones. No one celebrates her death, but skeptics do criticize how she lived. Her dismal track record at predictions -- she confidently predicted she would die at 88, not 77, for instance -- would merely be laughable if they did not hurt so many people. Remember Sean Hornbeck. Or Amanda Berry. The number of people she hurt with her pretend supernatural abilities is nearly as high as the number of her failed predictions. It is sad that it took death to stop Sylvia Browne.
D.J. Grothe is president of the James Randi Educational Foundation
A few years ago I was involved in a project where my investigative team tested a local ghost-hunting group. We invited them to investigate a home we said we feared to be haunted, to see if they found something where there was nothing. After a few hours of trudging about the house with digital recorders and KII meters in hand they declared the place to be haunted. In fact, they gushed that the house was “worse than Amityville.” The full story can be heard here at the Token Skeptic.
A few weeks ago the opportunity arose for another similar project. Local skeptic “Charles” whose home security camera captured an image with an interesting anomaly approached me. He showed it to his colleagues at the hospital where he works but only two out of eleven people thought there was a natural explanation for the image. The rest believed the image showed either a demon or a spirit.
The legal system is not the way to teach people to think rationally. Legalism is a way of thinking that often relies on carefully constructed logic, but should never be mistaken for reality – or for that matter, with right and wrong. The legal system isn’t a moral system, and if your only defense of questionable behavior is that you didn’t break the law – or weren’t convicted of a crime – there’s a strong chance you’re living a less than moral life. As a prosecutor friend of mine likes to say, the law is a blunt instrument – not a scalpel.
If you're the kind of baseball fan I am, now that the baseball season is over you're counting the days until pitchers and catchers report for spring training, and hungry for a little baseball news or information. So in this installment of the Honest Liar, I turn my attention away from traditional skeptic subjects and take a look at the critically important but concealed role that deception plays in the American pastime.
After you've watched the video, you might be interested in this incident that occurred in the post season, in September, in a game between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles, and a confrontation that arose over the issue of stealing signs: