REPLY #9 TO
"PSEUDOSCIENCE AND THE PARANORMAL"
are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.
My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text
and are prefaced by my initials (MB)
(R) There is one thing I will have to agree with you about, and it's something I have fought for my 28 years as a professional psychic, and that's the bullshit that is so rampant out there....the 900 numbers, the celebrity psychics and their followings, the 90%+ of so-called psychics who are doing this work of guiding peoples' lives and they should instead be welding, making cakes, driving taxis, or some other noble profession!
(MB) Is there any ongoing effort by professional psychics, such as yourself, to expose and publicize the frauds? Would such a thing be difficult to do without casting grave doubts about your own practice? I would imagine that this situation would be analogous to the failure of the professional religious clergy to expose the religious charlatans.
(R) In my lifetime, I have had over 400 concrete paranormal experiences,
experiences not visualized, dreamt, or encountered in any meditative or other altered state, but real physical experiences that occurred on our physical plane, and many times those experiences were witnessed by others.
(MB) Do you have any speculations on why you may be particularly susceptible to these experiences? Do they just happen essentially at random or can their frequency be increased by some type of preparation, ritual or other deliberate action on your part? Do you have a set of rules for where one should draw the line between a real experience and a coincidence? For example, on more than one occasion, I have had a song (not a current "Top 40" tune, either) going through my head and have switched on the radio or changed stations and been surprised to hear that same song as the current or next selection being played. Some people have tried to attribute this to clairvoyance. I'd be interested in your opinion.
(R) I have experienced objects disappearing without the intervention of "natural" or "human" agency. I have seen objects mysteriously appear by the same mechanism. I have both seen and heard doors open and close by themselves when no one was there. I have seen people, as solid as you or I, who suddenly disappeared without a trace. I could go on and on, but sufficient to say, I do believe that there is an invisible, unseen "spiritual" world with which we interact.
(MB) Have any of these things happened under controlled conditions or left any evidence of their having happened? Also, concerning the people who disappeared, have they reappeared at a later time? If so, what did they have to say about the experience?
(R) I don't claim to have a corner on God, nor do I understand all I know, and believe me there are plenty of times when I have more questions than answers, but I do know the reality of what I've experienced, and I seek to define that reality in a way that makes sense on a day-to-day basis, instead of a "pie in the sky by and by" manner.
(MB) The search for real answers is what should motivate any thinking person. Unfortunately, the willingness of the general public to accept almost any explanation that both sounds good and produces a tingle of excitement is what opens the door for all the quacks, fakes, frauds and charlatans which you spoke of earlier.
(R) I don't encourage my clients to pursue reincarnation (after all, how many Joan of Arcs can there have been for God's sake??), to join cults, or for that matter to blindly embrace any religious dogma, which I myself vehemently oppose. I believe organized religion of any kind is one of the most dangerous vehicles for emotion there is, for the simple reason that religion itself is inherently divisive, exclusive, and for those reasons leads to bigotry, hate, and eventual violence. Nearly every war fought is a "holy war."
(MB) You are absolutely correct. I find your description of organized religion to be ironic since those religious groups like to claim that they promote tolerance, love, and peace, yet they often end up achieving almost the opposite. Emotion is a powerful influence on most people and the appeal of religion is in how it tries to manipulate those emotions. "Faith" itself is emotional in nature.
(R) I don't have all the answers for myself, or anyone else, but for over 28 years I've been able to tell people what would happen in their lives with such uncanny accuracy it makes them nervous or afraid.
(MB) I'm curious as to how you would differentiate your ability from that supposedly demonstrated by such folks as mentalists (such as Kreskin), astrologers, or Tarot readers?
(R) If I could just as accurately predict tomorrow night's Lotto drawing, I'd be much happier financially! :)
(MB) Isn't that one of the standards jokes directed at psychics? "Why can't you foresee or predict the winning lottery number, the next hot stock, or the winner of the 3rd race at Belmont?" But, seriously, this makes me wonder if being psychic isn't more about having a superior understanding of human nature than about any connectedness to the future or to anything supernatural. Or, perhaps that is just a part of the puzzle?
(R) Uri Geller....what Uri actually does is as far removed from Randi's "expose" as is calling a tomato a pumpkin. I have seen Uri in person, and being both a cautious skeptic and having studied magic and slight of hand since I was a kid, I can tell you that Uri uses neither. I have seen Randi's, and other's, demonstrations of the techniques Uri supposedly uses, and it makes you wonder if they've ever actually even seen the man they supposedly are debunking so vigorously!! (Jonathan Margolis book, "Uri Geller, Magician or Mystic" by Welcome Rain Publishers, NY, is a must read.)
(MB) The point of the debunkers' demonstrations is to answer such questions as "Well, how else could Geller do that unless he had true powers?". Of course, this is not used solely to debunk Geller, but to take some of the mystery out of many "paranormal" phenomena. Geller and the others are obliged to show beyond a reasonable doubt that they are performing their feats honestly. The complete failure of Geller (or anybody else) to succeed under any sort of controlled conditions (or to win court cases against Randi) understandably continues to cast large amounts of doubt upon their claims.
(R) Plus, there are many, many testimonials from those who have brought their own key, it never left their possession, and with it in their clenced fist and Uri only waving his hand over theirs, it bent while in their hands!
(MB) Why then, in your professional opinion, is Geller unable to duplicate such a feat under controlled conditions that would prove his abilities beyond any skeptical doubt? I'm sure you are aware of the $1 million prize that Randi offers for any successful demonstration of anything paranormal. Why does this prize continued to go unclaimed? In my opinion, the successful demonstration of such phenomena couldn't help but throw the doors wide open to a vast new realm of study and understanding.
(R) Simply put, I believe these psychic talents are "attention getters" to 1) show us that there is indeed an invisible realm with which we may interact and 2) if we continue proper exploratory investigation without letting our imaginations run rampant and unchecked, we may actually discover beneficial uses for these powers, such as healing on a more reliable basis, etc.
(MB) I would truly love for these things to be real. The good that could be furthered from the proper use of such abilities might well be incalculable. However, that is an emotional wish and can't be anything else until such time as there is any solid evidence to suggest that such a wish might become reality in the future. I won't flatly reject anything that has not been definitively disproven, but I will need something on which to base any belief or enthusiasm for anything which falls within the realm of the paranormal. Your experiences have provided that basis for you. I will need to have similar experiences since, as of this writing, the evidence seems to point in the direction of skepticism.
(R) At any rate, feel free to peruse my website and read some of my clients' testimonials, and my background and qualifications. I think you'll have to at least agree that I'm not the "run of the mill" psychic.
(MB) Of that, I have no doubts and I have provided a link to your web site so that others can check for themselves. If I felt that you were one of the teeming masses of overt frauds, I would have been quick to do a merciless slice-and-dice on you. Of course, I'm still a skeptic, but I would like to give you, as a professional psychic, the opportunity to answer some of the questions I have on the subject. I will publish those answers here for others to read and consider.
(R) Best regards, and great luck with your site!
(MB) Thank you and I wish you the same luck.