How to Protest a ‘Psychic’

How to do things, from someone who actually does things:

How to Protest a ‘Psychic’– Dr. Caleb Lack

There is a big difference between writing and talking about doing something, and actually doing something in the Real World.  Confuse the two at your own risk.

For instance, while it is fine and dandy to demand on your blog that all skeptic/atheist meetings have child care provided, it is another thing entirely to secure the necessary insurance for child care, find the money to pay for that insurance, find volunteers trained in child care/CPR/basic medicine, train all the volunteers in a variety of emergency procedures, plan and organize activities for the kids, find money to pay for the activities for kids, find money to pay for the kids food/snacks/etc, etc.

There is a difference between demanding things one has never had to organize on ones blog, and making sure that a kid doesnt die choking on a grape at an all-dream/demands-no-planning-make-shift ‘child care’ center (and no one is sued into bankruptcy just for trying to do something nice).

And like we find in the lab all the time, while designing experiments– Something may look easy on paper.  When you plan out a series of protocols youre thinking ‘Aw yeah! I can get this done in a week!’  Then reality is smacking you in the face when you are still messing with that ‘easy-on-paper’ strategy two months later.

There is a difference between talking about a strategy, and actually implementing that strategy in the real world.

Likewise, while its all fun and games to make fun of psychics like Sylvia Brown and John Edward and their pathetic followers online… how the hell do you go about protesting these people when they set up shop in your backyard?

While Calebs article focuses on what he and his class did in response to John Edward– His advice is applicable whether you are protesting psychics or anti-vaxers or Creationists.

  • Get a permit.
  • Tell the venue you are going to protest. Work with them.
  • Contact the press.
  • Keep it light-hearted, fun (less confrontational = people not on the defensive) but show that you are dead serious (you are a credible resource, not a whack-job yourself).
  • BONUS: Keep messages/chants/posters cohesive.
  • BONUS: Dress nice. Not like NICE but nice. You want people to take you seriously.

Ive always said, anything is possible if you have no idea what you are doing.  And when you are just talking/writing about an activity… anything is possible.  Actually doing something requires planning and effort to make sure everyone stays safe and legal, and Calebs experience is a helpful guide for anyone who wants to do something like this in the future!

Comments

  1. #1 Katie G
    October 2, 2012

    I went to a Pagan festival a couple of weeks ago and my friend got her taro cards read for fun. It

  2. #2 Katie G
    October 2, 2012

    (cont from previous comment) was exactly what I expected. Vague, playing to a sense of being special, telling her she was an “empath.” It was entertaining.

  3. #3 Omega Centauri
    October 2, 2012

    I suspect protesting a psychic would make her more popular, not less. For these folks, it is a business/avocation. Its possible they might even serve a positive social purpose, telling someone, what any astute observor would see about themselves, but which they can’t quite take seriously.

  4. #4 Sunflower
    October 2, 2012

    Quote:
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  5. #5 Poodle Stomper
    October 4, 2012

    At this point XMRV doesn’t interest me anymore. Mikovits wa wrong, acted in an unscientific manner when she went on about autism, etc… lied about and reused figures and whatever else she did. I wouldn’t trust her if she said the grass was green much less anything she will use as an excuse for her past actions. My only hope is that she never sets foot in a lab again and leaves science to real, ethical scientists.

  6. #6 Tommykey
    http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com
    October 8, 2012

    Isn’t it interesting that no one ever seems to be able to communicate with their own deceased friends and relatives, but apparently the ghosts of those dearly departed apparently hover around the likes of John Edward or the LI Medium like a swarm of gnats and whispering things into their ears?

  7. #7 Aleta Mason
    October 15, 2012

    I guess you (Abbie) believe John & Sylvia are phonies. I dont know because Ive never had a private reading with either. But I do know there are real psychic out there cause my mom is one. When she was growing up, it had to be hidden coz people would think u were weird or nuts. She still hides it. As a kid, she wld have premonitions all the time. The one I remember most was- a plane crashing into a playground. She got the date , location of crash and flight number. I started bugging her to keep a record of these. There are hundreds of examples. Im just saying, its wise to be skeptical, but just coz there are alot of fakes doesnt mean everyone is. Tommykey- I dont know why you think that; my mom and other intuitives i know, and even “regular people” whove never had a twinge of intuition in their lives before have talked to their own relatives after their passing over. It can happen to anyone and its very comforting.
    The other thing is- evne if John & Sylvia and others are phony, if they are brining comfort to those who WANT to/need to believe, then why would you take that away? We all have a right to CHOOSE what we will believe in/what brings us happiness or comfort. Live and let live, please.

  8. #8 Tracy
    October 16, 2012

    Aleta, Truth matters. While some go way overboard in discounting all claims of the “paranormal” because there are a lot of charlatans out there, folks do need to be warned off those charlatans. Con-men need to be exposed. Sylvia, for ex., told a family that their missing child was dead — though he was found alive later. There was no comfort given. She took a wild guess. And she takes people’s hard-earned money. Your point could be argued maybe if those charlatans were charging $10 for a reading, but they don’t. They rake the poor, gullible “suckers” for hundreds a shot. It’s sick and evil — and doesn’t do any good at all for the real psychics out there who tend to “lay low” so as to not be accused of being not only “weird,” but grifters.

  9. #9 Reap
    3 paces left, 459,097 paces forward
    October 16, 2012

    I protest psychics like this http://chipcoffey.info not sure if that would fall under writing or real world but it pissed him of good. It’s been removed 3 times I’m building the 4th model now. Check it in a day or so for some laughs

  10. [...] have had lots of very positive feedback to the article (including a nice write-up by my friend Abbie over at ERV), so I thought I would publish a “special edition” [...]

  11. #11 Caleb
    November 16, 2012

    Thanks for the plug, Abbie!

    In case anyone is interested, I put up an extended version that gives more specific guidelines on effective protesting here: http://skepticink.com/gps/2012/11/16/protesting-pseudoscience-a-how-to-guide/

  12. #12 Aleta Mason
    Albuquerque NM
    February 9, 2013

    Tracy, agreed. Its criminal what some of these people charge. I almost paid $250 for a reading w/Chris Dufresne (Sylvias son) til I saw reviews and did my own reading on him. The cards were very mixed. Between that and the bad reviews, I cancelled and actually got my money back.
    I do readings for people also, but my main motivation is to help people, not to get rich/clean out their life savings.
    My readings start at $25. My rates are on my website – http://www.isiswing.com. if you want to check out my honesty.
    An important thing to consider, beside the intentions/integrity of the reader, is their beliefs.
    I personally DO NOT believe the future is carved in stone, therefore I dont try to forecast the future. If my clients insist, I will tell them , ” I can only tell you what is most likely . Your choices and actions change your future every day.”
    To me, any psychic who claims to be 100% accurate, especially about the future is being irresponsible or dishonest.
    My focus is on the present- insights into whats going on, solutions, choices. I tell my clients they need to make wise choices and take actions that will lead them to their best future (and present- a segment of time that is under-rated !) It is my belief that their own “higher”, wiser self/soul & possibly ancestors or spirit guides are speaking through the cards. I am simply the interpreter. One could easily say that the way the cards fall is random. Based on the feedback I get, I am convinced this is not the case; my record w/regular/repeat customers suggests that the information my clients receive is accurate beyond what chance would explain.
    I am not here to convince anyone, only to point out that not all of us are greedy, theiving liars.
    Some of us charge a fair price. I have true concern and compassion for my clients and consider my work a sacred service. They have a right to discern for themselves what is real, what they want and what they will spend their money on. On the other hand, I would like the phonies to be put out of business and prosecuted. They take advantage of people when they are naive or vulnerable. They also make honest intuitives and healers look bad & threaten our livelihoods.
    I do warn my clients(and have info on my website) about those who would tell them things like “Theres a curse on you and I can remove it for $200″ . Horrifying. These people need to remember- karma is a b*tch.
    Please know that some(I believe MOST) of us do this because we love people and want to help them. Because we are smart or wise or intuitve and have life experience to share also. Please consider this and also the right and responsibility of adults making their own choices, and maybe their own mistakes. It is for them to report, sue or ask for a scammer to be prosecuted. Buyer beware, use your best judgement. Report scammers!

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