Respectful Insolence

Well, well, well, well.

Last week, I wrote one of my usual patented bits of insolence directed at “America’s doctor,” Dr. Mehmet Oz. What prompted my irritation was a recent episode in which Dr. Oz featured psychic scammer John Edward, the self-proclaimed “psychic” who claims to be able to speak with the dead. In actuality, Edward is nothing more than a mediocre cold reader, but he’s parlayed his skills into a lucrative career as host of his own TV show (Crossing Over With John Edward, which ran for several years back in the 1990s and early 2000s), author, and touring psychic medium. His latest triumph against reason and science was managing to convince Dr. Oz that he might actually really be able to speak to the dead.

When I wrote about it, one aspect of Edward’s appearance on Dr. Oz’s show was that he had in the audience Katherine Nordal, PhD of the American Psychological Association. During Edward’s appearance, he asked Dr. Nordal point-blank whether visiting a psychic could be a form of therapy, and her answer strongly implied, if not outright stated, that it could. I was appalled and outraged that a professional psychologist, the representative of the largest organization of psychologists, would seemingly endorse Edward’s schtick as actually being of some medical worth. At the time I wondered whether there had been some editing going on there. It turns out I was right to wonder, as Dr. Nordal has complained:

In a letter to producers of “The Dr. Oz” show Nordal said, “I provided very balanced responses to Dr. Oz’s questions during the show’s taping, however, the editing of my responses did not capture my full comments or give viewers an accurate portrayal of my professional view on John Edward’s methods. Instead, it seems that ‘The Doctor Oz’ show intentionally edited my responses in a way that gave the appearance of my endorsement of Edward’s methods as a legitimate intervention.”

Well, I guess that’s what you get for agreeing to go on The Dr. Oz Show as the token skeptic. This is how shows like that operate. Dr. Oz has apparently learned well from his mentor, Oprah Winfrey. Remember what she did to Laura McMahon when she had psychic mediums Allison DuBois and–you guessed it!–John Edward on her show. Dr. Oz is beyond redemption now, I fear.

This article also made me remember something I should have mentioned the first time I blogged about this, and that’s just how ghoulish one of the featured “readings” was:

His next victim (patient?) was a middle-aged man who rose to his feet when Edward suggested someone had lost a son. As the reading continued, Edward informed the grief-stricken parent that the car accident that claimed his son’s life was in fact a suicide.

“I’ve never known that he committed suicide for sure,” said the grieving father, “but I believe it.”

This father seemed able to cope with that information, but I’m not sure every grieving parent would take that kind of news as well. What’s particularly noteworthy is that it has no basis in fact or truth.

Think about it. You believe that Edward can speak with the dead. You’re on Dr. Oz’s show, and Edward tells you that your son, who died in a car crash, had actually committed suicide, in essence that your son had crashed his car on purpose to end his life. What would be your reaction? Many would be utterly crushed, particularly if they really believed that Edward was providing them a message from their son from beyond the grave.

Me? I’m outraged. Edward is taking advantage of a father’s grief, and then making it even more intense through his claims, none of which are based on anything other than his cold reading and his willingness to make money doing it.

And Dr. Oz let him do it. After Dr. Nordal’s complaint, one wonders how much other editing went on to make John Edward’s cold reading seem more accurate went on.

Comments

  1. #1 Militant Agnostic
    March 21, 2011

    It was good to see only one pro-Oz comment on the LA Times Article

  2. #2 Damien
    March 21, 2011

    I believe that South Park said it best when they had John Edward being declared the Biggest Douche in the Universe, even above and beyond a literal giant douche.

    If anything they were too kind. Reading that he would suggest to someone that their dead son committed suicide, it inspires me to paroxysms of rage.

  3. #3 Turnkey
    March 21, 2011

    Interesting, Gary Taubes was complaining about how Oz edits the show too recently – cutting explanations and the like. (Not to imply Taubes is a expert on nutrition :D, but this is pretty par for the course on Oz’s show).

  4. #4 lilady
    March 21, 2011

    The entire Oz show format is a set-up from beginning to end. His guests present the most outrageous case histories, with little or no documentation from specialists or valid diagnostic tests (needle biopsies and histology reports) for the actual presence of cancer. Other cancer “cures” are presented following the taking of some supplement or magic potion or having treatment by Reiki Masters or whatever nonsensical mumbo-jumbo practitioner happens to be on stage. The “cures” are attributed to the CAM treatments AFTER they have received chemotherapy, radiation treatments or excision of tumor…you know “traditional” medicine.

    Noticeable missing are the miraculous cures by CAM treatments such as glioblastoma and pancreatic cases… where traditional treatments are mainly palliative to entend life before the cancers inevitably are fatal.

    Dreadful use of people who are in the process of grieving the death of a beloved child by these charlatans all to raise Oz’s ratings and for John Edward publicity.

    John Edward is lower than pond scum and Oz is a disgrace to the medical profession.

  5. #5 Baron Scarpia
    March 21, 2011

    Whilst I can get outraged over all sorts of pseudoscience and woo, I find that for some reason I get incandescent with anger with one piece of tripe in particular. I don’t know why, but it happens.

    The piece of tripe is so-called psychics.

    People like John Edward are some of the lowest scumbags it has ever been my misfortune to encounter. He’s not the only one to do things like this. Sylvia Browne, who charges $750 dollars a phone call, once told a parent that her child had been shot dead. When the parent told her that no gun wound had been found, Browne insisted. Then she went and told Shawn Holbeck’s parents that the kidnapped boy was dead, a few years before he turned up alive and well.

    Therapy? Therapy? How the hell can it be therapeutic when the scammer is just saying whatever comes into his head, regardless of the bereaved parent’s actual needs? I cannot imagine what passes for ethics in John Edward’s head. I suspect he does not have them.

  6. #6 Pablo
    March 21, 2011

    Baron makes up a comparison that I thought of as well: Sylvia Brown

    In particular, the telling the guy his son committed suicide. That is a move straight out of the Sylvia Brown book.

    “He committed suicide”
    “No, he died in a car accident”
    “Trust me, it was suicide”

    What a pile of crap, and the sure sign of someone making stuff up.

  7. #7 AndyD
    March 21, 2011

    “I’ve learned in my career that there are times when science just hasn’t caught up with things, and I think this may be one of them.” Dr Oz

    I’m no scientist but I’m pretty sure science can explain John Edward’s sideshow.

  8. #8 Sarnia Skeptic
    March 21, 2011

    The ‘that’s not how it happened’ crap is common with all ‘psychics’ and I would suggest it is to get people to remember the hit (especially when there is an audience). Local douche, Robbie Thomas, told a family that an accidental fire, that killed a number of their family members, was not an accident but intentionally set. Even more, he claimed it was a hate crime.

    A big story in Ontario regarding a kidnapping of a young girl had Robbie Thomas telling the family that their daughter was still alive and would return home safe. He said this to the family almost a week after we now know she was brutally murdered and her body discarded. Check out http://www.stoprobbie.com

  9. #9 lordshipmayhem
    March 21, 2011

    Link for stoprobbie isn’t working, so here’s another go at it.

    stop robbie

  10. #10 BA
    March 21, 2011

    I have little respect for the APA and state chapters of this organization. The lack of a consistent tie to scientific priniples is apparent from the schlock they promote (or at least tolerate). For example,the MassPA regularly lists CE events teaching the finer points of energy healing and reiki. There is a reason APS split from APA.

    -An experimental psychologist

  11. #11 sadmar
    March 21, 2011

    As a sometime ‘professional’ video editor, I have a couple responses to this:
    1) People are way too gullible about the degree of ‘reality’ in reality TV shows. Everything is edited. A lot. What you see on TV is not a neutral window into another corner of the world. It’s a construction. Orac writes above:

    I was appalled and outraged that a professional psychologist, would seemingly endorse Edward’s schtick as actually being of some medical worth. At the time I wondered whether there had been some editing going on…

    Suggestion: hold the outrage in check until you follow up on the suspicion, and if you smell a rat be proactive and don’t wait for the counter-evidence to show up in the LA Times.
    2) At the same time, it’s an error to think that editing itself is a deception, that an un-edited presentation would provide the unvarnished truth. Reality contains an infinite number of facts. In order for any presentation of any subject to be comprehensible, someone has to decide which things are important, how to frame them, and what sort of structure to put them in.
    Editing reality footage frequently involves a kind of ‘lying in order to tell the truth’. That is, I may find as a filmmaker that the footage I have captured is utterly inadequate at depicting the reality I witnessed in person if I follow strict time sequences and orders, but presents a much more accurate picture of the totality if I muss it up a bit. (An example from a classic direct cinema documentary: Little Edie’s climactic burst in Grey Gardens was actually captured the first day of the Maysles shoot.)
    As such, there is no simple test for bias or bs in media based on the PRESENCE of manipulation. EVERYTHING is manipulated. It has to be. Believe me, it wouldn’t make ANY damn sense otherwise. The question is the NATURE of that manipulation. It can be fair, as it is in most serious documentary practice, or it can be utterly tabloid sensationalist unethical crapola, as it would appear the editors from Oz did to Dr. Nordal.
    I’m not saying that Orac has made this mistake here. I just know from years of experience, when something like this comes up, somebody eventually always naively posits ‘It was EDITED’ as a self-evident proof of mendacity, and I’m just hoping to vaccinate this thread against that particular virus.

  12. #12 Calli Arcale
    March 21, 2011

    Baron Scarpia:

    Therapy? Therapy? How the hell can it be therapeutic when the scammer is just saying whatever comes into his head, regardless of the bereaved parent’s actual needs? I cannot imagine what passes for ethics in John Edward’s head. I suspect he does not have them.

    This is *precisely* why it is not okay for people like John Edwards to continue practicing their schtick and why it should never be accepted as a form of therapy. If people get better after talking to Edwards, it is a happy chance that what he said just happened to be the right thing. Since he is in it for the show and not to heal the patient (whom he doesn’t even think of as a patient but rather as a customer or viewer), it is far more likely for him to do harm than good.

    First, do no harm. A medium who does her thing to validate herself is not putting her clients first. A psychic who does his thing to improve ratings on the Dr Oz show is not putting his viewers first. They do not have a therapist-patient relationship, and it is therefore unethical.

    I don’t think we can ban mediums and psychics and the like. But we can damn well make it clear what they’re doing, and one thing that society should take hard line on is the claim of therapy. This term should be protected. If you claim that what you do is therapeutic, then you are practicing medicine and should be licensed, and there should be some proof that what you do is effective. Prove you can talk to the dead. Then go collect your million from the JREF. (I won’t wait up, though.)

    And for those not operating under a religious envelope, it should be easy to force them to clearly state that this is for entertainment purposes only — unless they want to prove that it’s not false advertising that they can talk to the dead.

    Police departments should be absolutely forbidden from relying on the word of a psychic. If a psychic happened to actually witness the crime, or if a suspect confessed to the psychic during a palm reading or something, that’s different, but if they’re claiming the spirits are guiding them to a body, that should be ignored. It’s a waste of valuable time. Or, psychics who are found wrong should be prosecuted for obstruction of justice or even filing a false police report.

    Religious psychics would be more difficult to regulate. I detest faith healers and spiritualists who clearly hoodwink and then fleece their flock, but how to regulate them without infringing upon the freedom of religion? Likewise, if a psychic is not selling his services but is merely making his predictions publicly and freely, he would generally be protected by the freedom of speech. For these, I think the best remedy is to increase funding for science education and for public education in general. Sadly, that is not something likely to happen at this time, as districts are fighting tooth and nail just to keep what funding they have.

  13. #13 Calli Arcale
    March 21, 2011

    Baron Scarpia:

    Therapy? Therapy? How the hell can it be therapeutic when the scammer is just saying whatever comes into his head, regardless of the bereaved parent’s actual needs? I cannot imagine what passes for ethics in John Edward’s head. I suspect he does not have them.

    This is *precisely* why it is not okay for people like John Edwards to continue practicing their schtick and why it should never be accepted as a form of therapy. If people get better after talking to Edwards, it is a happy chance that what he said just happened to be the right thing. Since he is in it for the show and not to heal the patient (whom he doesn’t even think of as a patient but rather as a customer or viewer), it is far more likely for him to do harm than good.

    First, do no harm. A medium who does her thing to validate herself is not putting her clients first. A psychic who does his thing to improve ratings on the Dr Oz show is not putting his viewers first. They do not have a therapist-patient relationship, and it is therefore unethical.

    I don’t think we can ban mediums and psychics and the like. But we can damn well make it clear what they’re doing, and one thing that society should take hard line on is the claim of therapy. This term should be protected. If you claim that what you do is therapeutic, then you are practicing medicine and should be licensed, and there should be some proof that what you do is effective. Prove you can talk to the dead. Then go collect your million from the JREF. (I won’t wait up, though.)

    And for those not operating under a religious envelope, it should be easy to force them to clearly state that this is for entertainment purposes only — unless they want to prove that it’s not false advertising that they can talk to the dead.

    Police departments should be absolutely forbidden from relying on the word of a psychic. If a psychic happened to actually witness the crime, or if a suspect confessed to the psychic during a palm reading or something, that’s different, but if they’re claiming the spirits are guiding them to a body, that should be ignored. It’s a waste of valuable time. Or, psychics who are found wrong should be prosecuted for obstruction of justice or even filing a false police report.

    Religious psychics would be more difficult to regulate. I detest faith healers and spiritualists who clearly hoodwink and then fleece their flock, but how to regulate them without infringing upon the freedom of religion? Likewise, if a psychic is not selling his services but is merely making his predictions publicly and freely, he would generally be protected by the freedom of speech. For these, I think the best remedy is to increase funding for science education and for public education in general. Sadly, that is not something likely to happen at this time, as districts are fighting tooth and nail just to keep what funding they have.

  14. #14 Beamup
    March 21, 2011

    Police departments should be absolutely forbidden from relying on the word of a psychic. If a psychic happened to actually witness the crime, or if a suspect confessed to the psychic during a palm reading or something, that’s different, but if they’re claiming the spirits are guiding them to a body, that should be ignored.

    I’d say that if a psychic tells the police the spirits are guiding them to a body, and actually does lead them to one, they should be arrested. For either giving false information to the police (obviously they know more than they’re telling), or for actual involvement in the murder.

    IIRC, “Bones” did an episode with this premise.

  15. #15 Scott Cunningham
    March 21, 2011

    Actually, this reminds me of that chemist who appeared on the abominable What the bleep do we know anyway video, thoroughly quotemined to make it appear he actually agreed with their garbage.

    If a psychic happened to actually witness the crime, or if a suspect confessed to the psychic during a palm reading or something, that’s different

    Psychics are such pathological liars I don’t think I’d trust them even as witnesses. They’d probably embellish the hell out of it and change details to fit their own preconceived ideas.

  16. #16 sadmar
    March 21, 2011

    I don’t think we can ban mediums and psychics and the like… I detest faith healers and spiritualists who clearly hoodwink and then fleece their flock, but how to regulate them without infringing upon the freedom of religion? Likewise, if a psychic is not selling his services but is merely making his predictions publicly and freely, he would generally be protected by the freedom of speech.

    Ban, no. Regulate, yes. There are laws against fraud that could be strengthened or more stringently enforced. There is nothing inherent in the 1st Amendment that protects religions from unscrupulous fund-raising (any more than the 1st Amendment protects pedophile priests) though I doubt Scalia and his factotums would see it that way.

    There could also be remedies in civil courts, if, say, the man who became convinced his son had committed were to be dissuaded by evidence, he could perhaps sue Edward, Oz, and the producers of the show for negligence, pain and suffering… I dunno, I’m not a lawyer.

    The key things here seem to be: 1) the solicitation of money under demonstrably false pretenses; 2) the efforts to delude specific individuals. I mean, freedom of speech certainly covers things like astrology columns, which are mainly entertainment whether they have a disclaimer or not. Sayeth Oliver Wendell Holmes:

    The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that the United States Congress has a right to prevent. It is a question of proximity and degree.

  17. #17 Baron Scarpia
    March 21, 2011

    Religious psychics would be more difficult to regulate. I detest faith healers and spiritualists who clearly hoodwink and then fleece their flock, but how to regulate them without infringing upon the freedom of religion?

    Take ‘Spiritual Healer’ A and ‘Spiritual Healer’ B. A says that he gets his powers from God, and preaches about Christ every week. B makes no such claims.

    Should A really get more legal protection than B just because he invokes a god? I think in this scenario religion is irrelevant. A isn’t being condemned for his religious claims, but for his medical claims, which are the same as B’s.

  18. #18 Pieter B
    March 21, 2011

    The first comment at the LA Times article contains this gem:

    The amount and specifics of the details are so true to the point I would highly doubt he either “gathered them beforehand” or remembered such details from a reading he had done “years before”

    Is there enough WTF in the world for that logical contortion? “Too specific” to be attributable to actually talking to or doing research on the person beforehand?

  19. #19 sadmar
    March 21, 2011

    This is somewhat off-topic here… Apologies, but I don’t know where else to put it. (It does kind of dovetail off point 1 in post #10 above.) It’s a longish post, but it’s not argumentative. I really am looking for some input from the Skeptics in the room, and I hope you will indulge me.
    I’ve been thinking about something relating to lines of argument and reasoning more broadly, abstracted from the specific contexts at play here, and I want to know what the folks who consider themselves to be part of the Skeptic community think.
    I’ve created a one-question poll on Survey Monkey, to which I invite you all to respond. But let me give you more complete background here.
    The question concerns the following proposition, in the abstracted context of a reply by a member of the Skeptic community to a comment by someone outside the community.

    We react to what you say about yourself and your subject. If that is confusing or misleading that is your fault. We can not be expected to go check the accuracy of your representations before responding to them.

    My query was prompted by comments made by Vicki in different threads, however it is not at all about the subjects of those threads, nor am I seeking ammunition in a quarrel with Vicki. And when I say I want to abstract the proposition, I mean in part I want to remove the question from any personal remarks, insults, emotions etc. on anyone’s part.
    I recount the exchanges below for purposes of background and disclosure:
    1. In the Oz/Edward thread ‘Anglachel the Common Sense Pagan’ had denounced Oz and Edwards, but stated a belief that “pure will” could have limited material consequences, including switching on a lightbulb. His denunciation of the quacks received no replys, but he was excoriated for the lightbulb comment, and for associating himself with paganism. He objected that he had been misunderstood/misrepresented. Vicki replied:

    What we know about your beliefs is what you’ve told us. And then we’ll fill in with what else we know about paganism: the thing about using a group label is that people will associate you with other members of that group. How do I know where you fall on (if you will) a continuum between someone who believes different things in circle and outside of it, and someone who not only goes to an herbalist but practices moxibustion and uses astrology to help her make decisions?

    2. There was an extended exchange between Vicki and me in the Paul Fassa thread. I had complimented Orac for his critique of Fassa, but noted I thought he was “a _little_ to hard on Bill Maher.” In attempting to explain why I thought so, I made two mistakes in paraphrasing a reply Maher had given to William Frist: I did not clearly indicate that I was paraphrasing, and I accidentally dropped a key word from the paraphrase. I wrote:

    I found a YouTube clip of Maher challenging Wlliam Frist on the swine flu vaccine. Frist brought up the success of vaccines in eradicating polio and smallpox, and Maher countered, ‘yes, but viruses are different.’ So I don’t see him attacking the ‘germ theory of disease’ sui generis at all here, only questioning the effectivity of one treatment against one category of disease. (About which he may be utterly wrong, but it’s a relatively limited wrong.)

    I use ‘inverted commas’ for paraphrase, to distinguish it from actual quotes, which is not standard practice, and the key dropped word was “influenza”, as in ‘yes, but INFLUENZA viruses are different.’ Not knowing those things, of course, Vicki replied:

    Are you actually defending Maher by saying that, when told that vaccines had eradicated polio (in most of the world) and smallpox, he said “but viruses are different”? Smallpox and polio are (or were) viral diseases. Arguing that vaccines don’t work against viruses is evidence of ignorance. Ignorance at a level such that he shouldn’t be talking about the topic…

    Now, here’s where the topic of the query comes in. I apologized for my mistake about the viruses (though clearly not fully enough and not fully explained), but I objected to Vicki suggesting that Maher was ignorant without having actually analyzed the exchange in question herself. I wrote:

    Well, my bad on the viruses… I did listen to the Frist/Maher podcast and Maher did not assert anything like ‘vaccines don’t work against viruses.’ His assertion, rather is “I do not trust the assurances by the authorities that the health benefits of this particular vaccine outweigh it’s potential risks.’ Again, he may be wrong, but you are reducing his position to a cartoon (or a Straw Man as we say in rhetoric).

    To which Vicki replied:

    Sadmar:
    People are responding to the part of Maher’s presentation that you quoted. If this is misleading, whose fault is that?

    I thought the rhetorical question was smug, so, after explaining in detail my original error in misrepresenting what Maher had said, I rather acidly rejoined:

    If you want to pillory me for dropping a word, well hurray for your pettiness. But, you know, if you think I’m ignorant then you have no business taking my word for anything, including representing Maher accurately one way or another. It’s not my responsibility to check YOUR facts before you pontificate.

    Vicki reasserted her position in her closing remark:

    OK, Sadmar, I will stipulate that you are not a reliable source for anything except your own personal opinions and experience. I don’t think we have anything else to say to each other, since you prefer to attack me for not double-checking your assertions, rather than say that you made a mistake and are sorry for the resulting confusion.

    My interest in the poll is not to re-argue this question. I want to separate the query from all of the following concerns: the seriousness of my original error; whether Vicki might have inferred that I was paraphrasing, or that I might have mis-represented Maher’s position from the context of my post; the accuracy of Vicki’s characterizations of Maher; the lack of detail in my inital apology; whether I was inappropriately snappy to Vicki; or whether she erred in suggesting I had not owned up to my mistake — all of that is irrelvant at what I’m trying to get at in the poll question.
    I do have a reason for asking my question beyond mere curiosity – an agenda if you will. As the question indicates, it has to do with the validity and appropriateness of certain points of argument. It is not about quackery or mystics or Bill Maher, and will most certainly not spin back to a defense of any of the above.
    The query came to my mind as I was thinking about something else in the broader realm of skepticism, a topic AFAIK of no particular concern to Orec, and in my own estimation of considerably less importance than the subjects Orec regularly discusses.
    While the subject itself is anything but one of life-or-death seriousness, or even financial consequence, I don’t think the question is trivial by any means. As I have said here before, the primary (not sole) aim my comments is to point to how Skeptics might STRENGTHEN the rhetorical effectiveness of their sorties against the quacks and mystical scam artists.

    An important part of that, I believe, is to limit one’s claims, stay focused on the primary target, establish and maintain credibility in terms that work for the uninformed or the fence-sitters, not just the Skeptics already in the Skeptic Room. It is toward that broader goal of constructive critique that this poll question is aimed.
    If you suspect that there _might_ be a kind of ‘gotcha’ at the end of this process, you’d be more or less right… Though it wouldn’t be sprung on Orac, or ‘Orac-ists’, and it would not be a delegitimating ‘gotcha’ but a hopefully helpful gotcha — about limiting arguments and framing them effectively. And it does all depend on how people respond to the poll. There’s an ‘I don’t know or I don’t care’ option in the multiple choice, and if no one participates in the poll, I will assume this passive assent is the concensus of the group.
    cheers,
    sadmar

  20. #20 formula 21 formen
    March 21, 2011

    Now, here’s where the topic of the query comes in. I apologized for my mistake about the viruses (though clearly not fully enough and not fully explained), but I objected to Vicki suggesting that Maher was ignorant without having actually analyzed the exchange in question herself. I wrote:
    Well, my bad on the viruses… I did listen to the Frist/Maher podcast and Maher did not assert anything like ‘vaccines don’t work against viruses.’ His assertion, rather is “I do not trust the assurances by the authorities that the health benefits of this particular vaccine outweigh it’s potential risks.’ Again, he may be wrong, but you are reducing his position to a cartoon (or a Straw Man

  21. #21 Pareidolius
    March 21, 2011

    I find it oddly fascinating watching Dr. Oz executing this spectacularly flamboyant career swan dive into an empty pool. Oh, and fuck you John Edward. Fuck you with no lube and no love.

  22. #22 paulmurray
    March 21, 2011

    Didn’t the police used to have a “bunko squad”?

  23. #23 mikerattlesnake
    March 22, 2011

    @20

    You should have included “Sadmar must really like to waste the crap out of his time” as an option. What a long winded way to ask a silly question. Of course you are responsible for the quality of the arguments you bring to the table, and no, no one else is responsible for fact checking every argument you make. Keep being lazy, and eventually you will be ignored for consistently providing flawed arguments. Be more rigorous and you won’t. There are a million screaming voices on the internet, one less is certainly no bother to any of us and we don’t owe it to you to make your arguments better.

  24. #24 Vicki, Chief Assistant to the Assistant Chief
    March 22, 2011

    I will confess to laziness, if you like. But I’m not getting paid for this stuff–it’s more in the nature of a coffee break activity–and I can only answer what I see. If there are *obvious* typos, I let them slide. “Obvious” is the sort of thing that, if I’m copyediting something, I would just make the change, rather than writing a query of “this isn’t clear. Do you mean cherries or cheering?”

    An omitted “not” is all too seldom obvious (hence newspapers saying someone was found “innocent” instead of “not guilty,” because they don’t want to risk accidentally saying “guilty”).

    If someone says “sorry that wasn’t clear, I meant X, not Y,” yes, I’ll address them on that basis. But if they don’t say it, I won’t know it.

    I meant no attack on Anglachel. If zie would rather not discuss or defend zir religious practices in this forum, that’s fine–just say so. Anglachel, if you think I owe you an apology, let me know, and why. I am not going to assume Sadmar speaks for you.

  25. #25 informania
    April 26, 2011

    Still, these psycocks and dishonest people are all frikin’ rich..
    So we’re fucked, right?

  26. #26 Tommykey
    April 26, 2011

    John Edward, the self-proclaimed “psychic” who claims to be able to speak with the dead.

    Isn’t it interesting that no one ever seems to be able to communicate with their own deceased friends and family members. Instead, the spirits of the ones we love supposedly spend their time swarming around people like John Edward, whispering messages into his ear.

  27. #27 Karen
    June 7, 2011

    I believe John Edwards is a scammer but it’s not my place to tell other people what to do. Guess what? It’s not for doctors to tell people what to do either. There’s no doubt that our emotional state plays a big role in healing so if it helps some people to listen to John Edwards why does it bother you so much? Why don’t you mind your own business?

  28. #28 Travis
    June 7, 2011

    I believe John Edwards is a scammer but it’s not my place to tell other people what to do…Why don’t you mind your own business?

    Am I the only one who finds it a little funny that someone starts a paragraph saying they do not tell others what to do but finishes it with a sentence telling someone what to do?

    Why is it so bad to suggest they are being scammed, or that what they are doing is silly? No one is forcing them to stop listening to Edwards. People have opinions, people think others are wrong and they express those thoughts. You do it as well as you have demonstrated. Deal with it and grow up.

  29. #29 Bronze Dog
    June 7, 2011

    Why don’t you mind your own business?

    So often in my skeptical life, I’ve had similar phrases used to mock or demonize me and others for the simple act of expressing curiosity about the truth or concern for the well being of others.

    I care about others. I don’t care if something takes place inside or outside my personal sphere of associations: Falsehood is falsehood. Fraud is fraud. Injustice is injustice.

    Our ‘business’ is whatever we want it to be. I refuse to let you define what is or is not my business or what I can or cannot talk about. If I see someone being wronged and I can do something about it, I will not remain idle and silent, like you’re asking us to.

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