Logic and Psychics

It would be fascinating to know, to the nearest million, just how much money is spent on psychics worldwide in a typical year. And imagine how staggering it would be to know how much treasure human beings have consigned to psychics in total, over the centuries, from day one. Consulting the sooth-sayer is a practice that dates back to prehistory, and rarely has it been a freebie.

Oddly enough, mundane financial considerations provide a crucial key to understanding what is really happening with this world of psychics. Economics provide us with the ultimate debunking of psychics, as this article will show.

Not that psychic phenomena has not been debunked, utterly. If the people who regularly pay for psychic “readings” had any familiarity with the works of James Randi, among others, that would be the end of those regular payments. Psychics may seem to be amazing, but none of them do anything that a good professional stage magician cannot duplicate. Stage magicians like Penn & Teller can be amazing, too, after all. But they don’t claim to be anything other than illusionist entertainers.

The desire to believe remains a very powerful motivator in humans, and those who want to believe will erect mental filters to protect the object of their devotion. They simply won’t read or consider a skeptical view.

Skeptics who research psychics are very familiar with some of the tactics employed by these seers. Psychics use vagueness as their primary tool. “I see travel in your future.” Just by talking to people, any alert person can pick up clues for telling people what they want to hear. Dress it up with some vagueness and mystical mumbo jumbo, and you have the average psychic show. Psychics also go with the theory that if you throw enough stuff at the wall something will eventually stick. If a psychic makes enough predictions, chances are a few of them will at least seem to become accurate. These hits are the ones you get to hear about. As for that stack of failed predictions? Well, it’s like they never happened.

Psychics will also claim fantastically successful predictions that they made in the past, which are difficult to verify. Jeanne Dixon became famous when she came out in the 1960’s saying that she had predicted President Kennedy’s assassination. Just how you would verify that is the question. Shortly after Princess Diana’s untimely death, some skeptics determined that not one psychic had publicly predicted it. Not one. Though there were reams of typically vague predictions on record for Princess Diana, and what kind of a year she would be having. Who knows, maybe by now someone is claiming that they had predicted the manner of death of Princess Diana.

The most powerful tool ever devised to dispute the existence of psychic power may be that of the James Randi Educational Foundation and their Million Dollar Offer. The ultimate put-up-or-shut-up for practitioners of the paranormal, the Foundation has a legally binding offer of one million dollars for the demonstration of any supernatural talent or event performed under conditions that do not allow for faking. As they say on their web site –

“At JREF, we offer a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event. The JREF does not involve itself in the testing procedure, other than helping to design the protocol and approving the conditions under which a test will take place. All tests are designed with the participation and approval of the applicant. In most cases, the applicant will be asked to perform a relatively simple preliminary test of the claim, which if successful, will be followed by the formal test. Preliminary tests are usually conducted by associates of the JREF at the site where the applicant lives. Upon success in the preliminary testing process, the “applicant” becomes a “claimant.”

To date, no one has ever passed the preliminary tests.”

Skeptics can use detective methods to dissect and expose the various machinations of the psychics, but there is a simpler, more basic way to determine that nothing supernatural is happening. And, as promised, it has to do with money.

To put it simply, a person possessing a genuine psychic ability would be the greatest economic powerhouse on earth. There would be no need for any $3 a minute charge on your phone bill, or any charging of fees at all. Even if the psychic ability was not 100%, it would not matter. Over time, a genuine predictive ability, better than mere chance, would be able to generate unimaginable wealth using the tools of our existing economy.

A genuine psychic would be an incredible boon to agriculture, having insights in advance as to what kind of a year it will be. He would practically own the commodities exchanges, and the futures markets. He would be the wonder of Wall Street, too, making financiers like Warren Buffet and Peter Lynch look like pikers by comparison. The stock portfolio of a true psychic would be breathtaking, stellar, the stuff of billionaires, even allowing for a percentage of misses. The true psychic would put exploratory geologists out of business. There would be no need for their science when the extra sensory powers of the true psychics are pinpointing oil fields and gold mines.

The casinos of the world would be absolute treasure troves for people with a genuine psychic ability. While the telekinetic guy is rolling the roulette ball around, and the sensitive is sitting down at just the right progressive slot machine, the predictive seer is over at the race and sports book. Any psychic worth the name should be able to tell which baseball team or race horse is in best form on a given day. And being able to do so with a consistency beyond chance is worth real money at a casino. But strangely enough, a call to the Nevada Gaming Commission revealed that nobody has ever been barred from any casino due to displaying the advantage of psychic power.

When this economic point is raised, some psychics will claim that their scruples are too high to use their talent for personal enrichment. They claim that they are here on earth to serve man. This dodge falls flat on first inspection, since the tons of money they could be making in the stock markets and casinos could be used to benefit all kinds of charities. They could even fund an institute for the prevention of critical thinking.

Psychics are not too noble to charge outrageous fees to poor, uneducated, and superstitious people. Why should they be squeamish about cashing in on the stock market?

The answer is simple, and by today’s standards, very straightforward. Psychics do not rule stock markets and casinos because there is no such thing as psychic power. If there was such a thing, they would be cashing in as described above, and they would be bragging their extra sensory perceptive heads off about it. As it is, they make their money from charging fees, often to people who should know better.

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