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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Should've seen that coming.

I'm a little busy this morning, and behind schedule, so I'm afraid you will have to do without my usual craptacular thoughts on things. No great loss, I know. However, since I know you crave diversion, I thought I'd point all of y'all to something vastly more interesting than myself. There are many folks who believe in, and patronize, psychics. If the number of palm readers and fortune tellers who set up shop in a city isn't sufficient to convince you of that, just consider the popularity of television shows like The Ghost Whisperer and Medium, not to mention old school classics like Uri Geller. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no evidence that psychic powers exist and most, if not all, feats performed by alleged psychics have been duplicated by trained magicians like Harry Houdini, Penn & Teller and James Randi.

To that list we can now add Karen Stollznow who came up with an interesting way to "test" the sort of psychic services available today. How did she do this? Well, by attempting to become a psychic herself:

A psychic can claim to be ‘skeptical’, but can a skeptic be psychic?

Is psychic ability in the eye of the beholder?

These questions arose when I stumbled across a job opportunity for psychics, advertised at Job sharing, casual work and second, even third jobs are necessary evils in today’s world. Some replenish stock in supermarkets at night, others telemarket or work behind a bar. Only the very few can earn a few extra dollars as a psychic. That would require a specific skill, wouldn’t it? But what kind of skill? Real psychic ability or cold/warm/hot reading skills and a glib manner?

The job advertisement was a call from an “ethical psychic network in the US, as seen on TV”, seeking psychics and tarot readers (“pros only”) to work from home for chat room, telephone and email readings. Absolutely Psychic is operated by ACM Entertainment, a company whose very name suggests the solemnity with which we should view the entire industry.

The company recruits "psychic associates" online, advertising in chat rooms, on mailing lists and job boards, seeking staff from as far away as New Zealand and the UK. Interested parties were urged to submit an application via an online form. Professing no psychic or indeed any paranormal abilities whatsoever, I wondered how far I could infiltrate until I would be revealed to be a skeptic posing as a psychic.

It's an interesting project and well worth the effort. While going to fortune tellers for entertainment is perfectly fine, it's not uncommon for people to rely on them for advice and guidance. In some cases, this has provided scam artists and confidence men with an easy way to fleece the public. If that wasn't enough, it's common for alleged psychics to contact desperate families during missing child cases and offer their services for hundreds to thousands of dollars. Not a bad haul for providing no service whatsoever. Now, one would expect that a group composed of high quality psychics would have seen Karen coming from a mile away but, in fact, she got rather far in the interview process. How far, you ask? See for yourself and prepare to be amused.*

In any case, head on over and take a look. It's an interesting read and well worth the time.

* I'd say "amazed" but, really, if you're amazed that psychics are full of shit, I don't really know how you can stand to read this blog.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly the episode proves this lady has unrecognized pyschic talents!

Thursday, June 14, 2007 9:11:00 AM  

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