Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Why aren’t America’s psychics helping keep us safe?

Posted in Center for inquiry by Skepdude on December 28, 2009


As I’m sure you heard, a Nigerian suicide bomber tried to blow up Northwest flight 253, from Amsterdam to Detroit, on Christmas Day. He managed to get 80 grams of the high explosive PETN on board, though his plot was foiled by a faulty detonator and a fast-acting nearby passenger. Fingers are still pointing about who is to blame for the usual laundry list of security lapses. The story of course didn’t get as much press as it would have if the bomber had been successful, but it provides what I like to semi-sarcastically call a “teachable moment.”

There are thousands—perhaps tens of thousands—of people who claim to have psychic powers. Some of them can be found in little storefront shops not far from where you may work or live. Some of them can be found on TV, such as convicted felon Sylvia Browne, James van Praagh, John Edward, Alison DuBois, Carla Baron, and others. But all of them have one thing in common: they claim to have specific, accurate information about things outside their immediate knowledge. Some say they can read minds or auras; others say they can predict future events.

Which brings us back to the would-be Christmas bomber. The biggest challenge to national security, by definition, is that there is no way to distinguish threats from non-threats, passengers from terrorists, false-positives from positives. Airport security must thoroughly screen every single passenger, from the wheelchair-bound grandmother to the harried businessman to the nose-picking toddler, because everyone must be suspect; anyone could be a potential threat. Psychics, if real, could change all that.

If what they say is true—if these people have the powers they claim, why are 99.99% of innocent airline passengers subjected to invasive screening, delays, and hassles, when a psychic should be able to identify the terrorists and direct the security resources toward those people?


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Psychic Detectives Allow Murderer to Escape Death Penalty

Posted in LiveScience by Skepdude on September 21, 2009


Last month I pointed out how a self-proclaimed psychic detective failed to help find a young girl,Jaycee Dugard, who had been abducted and held captive for nearly 20 years. In addition to Dugard, Chandra Levy, Laci Peterson, Elizabeth Smart — and, well, every other missing person — psychic information failed to recover Brooke Wilberger, a university student missing since May 24, 2004. Police said they received more than 500 tips from psychics about Wilberger’s location, though she has only now been found.

According to ABC News, “Five years after Brigham Young University student Brooke Wilberger vanished from an Oregon apartment complex, her remains have been found. Authorities told The Associated Press today that her suspected killer, Joel Courtney, told police where he’d left Wilberger’s body following her 2004 disappearance. His admission was part of a plea deal to avoid the death penalty. It was not immediately clear where the remains were found. The Benton County District Attorney’s office said Monday that Courtney, 42, pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and received a life sentence without the possibility of parole. The deal allowed Wilberger’s family to finally learn what really happened to their daughter after all these years.”


Uri Geller still at it – Good journalist will have none of it

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on August 28, 2009

Uri Geller! The spoon bender (or so he claims)! The New Times of Broward Palm Beach has an article on the man, which is not excessively skeptical, but takes a jab or two at the renowned “psychic” that is Geller, and my favorite is this one (emphasis mine):

When I called, he asked that I call back in about an hour. I did that too. After we discussed psychics, Randi, Randi’s Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge, and the skeptic community, out of the blue he asked if I still had a beard. He told me he liked it. “You look very cool,” he said with the grace of a lifelong showman.

That’s right, the most famous psychic in the world told me he liked my beard…over the phone! (If you google image search my name, the first picture shows me with a beard.)

That’s right! The best, and cheapest trick, this great “psychic” could come up with is a mention of the writer’s beard, an image of whom, with the beard, is readily available on the Internet! But that’s not even the fun part. The fun part is that Geller asks the journalist if he still has a beard. Shouldn’t this great “psychic” know that already? Needless to say, yet again I am not impressed.

12 things you need to know about psychics-Skepdude style

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on August 21, 2009

I love the Examiner. It gives me so much material for my blog. Here’s the latest thing I came across, “The 12 things you need to know About Psychics”. Let’s examine it and critique it, Skepfeeds style.

1) A psychic is just like you, everyone is born psychic.

Ha, sure why not! Step one, kiss up to the people bringing the green in.

2) A psychic loves the same things just as you do. To be with family, friends, reading a good book, getting their hair done, a walk in the park.

With one small exception: commitment to reality and mental well being.

3) A psychic works with their intuition.

Oh, is that what they’re calling it these days?

4) A psychic may also have a part-time or full-time job working in main stream public.  Not all psychics work ful-time as a psychic.

There’s only so much gullibility to go around I guess. We can only support so many John Edwards and Van Praghs.

5) A psychic may use tools, astrology, birth times and zodiac symbols, Angel oracles cards or tarot in their readings with you.

Right, whatever made up bullshit toys to mesmerize the gullible.

6) A psychic is not a medium.

Why do they feel the need to make this distinction? Do they not ***gasp*** believe in mediums?

7) A psychic gives to you what they feel and know at that moment of time.

Right and they usually “feel” they have to give you lots of guesses for you to latch on.

8) Not all psychics work in integrity, get to know the psychic before going to see them for a reading.

Right, there are some quacks out there that give all psychics a bad name. Hmmm, now if only we could find a real psychic!

9) Not all psychic believe in angels & spirit guides.

Yeah, I guess different psychics specialize in different kinds of bullshit!

10) A psychic is not an individual to live your life by, but can assist you in your life to live.

Of course not, it’s just an individual to waste your time and money on.

11) A psychic should never ask you for huge sums of money to get rid of negative energy or bad karma. No one can… but you. Even if they sense it, they can only guide you as you are the only one who can get rid of anything negative.

Sure, they can only ask for huge sums of money to tell you you’ve got a problem, but only you can fix it, so don’t come crying to me if you can’t. It’s your fault!

12) A psychic might wear lots of jewelry or crystals, but do not be fooled to thinking they are any different, as they love beautiful things just like you.

Right on! Open up with butt kissing close with ass kissing! Wow, now I have a completely different attitude towards psychics.

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2005 Uri Geller: Michael Jackson’s career comeback to be “most dramatic ever seen in showbiz”

Posted in Center for inquiry by Skepdude on July 1, 2009


In a 2005 interview published in London’s Daily Telegraph, 1970s spoon-bending psychic / magician / alleged fraud Uri Geller spoke of his confidence that his friend Michael Jackson would soon make the greatest comeback of his career: “I’m quietly proud of my part in relaunching Michael’s career. This comeback of his is going to be the most dramatic ever seen in showbiz…. In fact, the only thing that could beat this would be for Elvis to come back from the dead.”


Psychic embarrases herself (yet again) with missing man case

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on June 23, 2009

Are headline writers even required to read the article for which they write the headline?  The question arises quite naturally after reading an article called “Psychic helps police in case of missing Hingham man with dog” since it is clear from the article that the woman who had the visions did not in fact help the police at all.


When it comes to a missing person case, police will take any information they can get.

So when a woman claiming to be a psychic volunteered her sixth sense to help track a man who apparently went missing while walking his Saint Bernard in Hingham this week, police were willing to hear her out.

A woman who has been staying at the hotel for the last week offered police her assistance, general manager Amarjit Khera said.

Khera said she reported having two visions, one in which a group of kids beat the man, stole his watch, then dumped his body somewhere in Quincy where there is a big shamrock. The second vision suggested that police should search the woods, just west of where the dog paused at the water’s edge while police were searching.

Rockland police took the report from the woman and passed the information to Hingham police.

Hingham police Lt. Michael Peraino said search teams acted on the tip, but police dogs that can track cadavers turned up nothing.

He said there are no plans to search in Quincy because the information is too vague. “I don’t even know where you’d start looking,” he said.

So how exactly did she help the police?  By providing information that resulted in nothing but wasted time, effort and money? Who the hell is writing the headlines for The Daily News Transcript? It really should have said “Pscychic hinders police in case of missing man!”

thestupiditburns1PS: By “yet again” in the title I don’t mean this specific woman. I mean yet another psychic! Just thought that needed clarification.

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Why George, why?

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on June 22, 2009

Why did George Clooney have to go and hire a psychic to talk to his dead pet pig? I hope the Examiner is full of shit on this story, because I think Clooney is one of the coolest Hollywood stars out there (top spot of course goes to Mat Damon), and I wanted to believe he was not one to fall for this sort of charlatanism. Ah, George please tell us this is BS.

George has reportedly told a friend: “The psychic told me Max had a great life with me. He is very happy in spirit and still hangs out with me sometimes. I am not sure she was telling the truth but I do want to believe her,” he said.

Not sure? Well George, I know my word probably means nothing to you, but be sure that she was, most definitely, not telling you the truth.

Skepquote of the day

Posted in Skepquote by Skepdude on June 18, 2009

I’ve gone into hundreds of [fortune-teller’s parlors], and have been told thousands of things, but nobody ever told me I was a policewoman getting ready to arrest her.

NYC Detective

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Feds: Bookkeeper steals fortune from psychic

Posted in News by Skepdude on June 11, 2009


The former bookkeeper of an internationally known psychic from Dorset has agreed to plead guilty in court to federal felony charges levied against her by prosecutors who say she executed a scheme to swindle roughly $200,000.

Denise Hall of East Arlington faces one count of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return after investigators with the U.S. Attorney’s office say she stole money from self-proclaimed spiritual medium Rosemary Altea — using four credit cards to obtain cash advances, forging checks and giving herself unauthorized electronic paychecks all under Altea’s name for the past seven years, according to court records.

She faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 for wire fraud and a maximum three years in prison and an additional $250,000 fine for filing the false tax information.

Along with the charge filed Wednesday is a plea agreement, signed by Hall, stating “the defendant represents that she intends to plead guilty because she is, in fact, guilty of the crimes with which she is charged.”

No court date was available.

Prosecutors claim Hall is responsible for embezzling and diverting between $120,000 and $200,000 from Altea between early 2001 and the middle of 2008, according to federal prosecutors.



Psychic fail of the day!

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on May 30, 2009

Psychics keep failing over and over, especially when trying to “help” the police with unsolved cases, where their cold reading skills are less helpful. This case was no different than other hundreds and thousands we’ve seen before.

DETROIT – As the search continues in Monroe County for Nevaeh Buchanan, there are hearts aching for another little girl. She has been missing since October and police have little to go on. Recently, a psychic claimed to know where they would find Tangena Hussain.

Investigators combed an area near I-94 and Harper on the east side of Detroit with a cadaver dog looking for the little girl’s remains. This is where a psychic from California told police they would find the child.

Detroit Police Commander Paul Wells says they only found a dead pit bull after coming acres of land. “The dog really worked hard for us and no luck,” he said.

Psychics, shut your face and stay out of police business!