vendredi 12 août 2011


What do you do when a dear friend believes in psychic readings and other paranormal phenomena? I always feel uncomfortable when she mentions that she's going to see a psychic or a medium (again), because she really seems to believe that these people have paranormal powers. I don't want to argue with her, but at the same time, I think it's dangerous for her to let what one "psychic" tells her influence her life.

I just happened upon a very interesting article about a professor who says that by investigating the seemingly ridiculous claims made by paranormal proponents, you can discover very real scientific knowledge about our brains and how we perceive the world.

Maybe I could recommend that my friend read the book _Paranormality_. (I want to read it too!)

From the interview with this professor (

"When _Paranormality_ came out, there was a lot of criticism from psychics and mediums that did not want the tricks of the trade out there.There is a kind of pressure not to reveal these tricks. There's a bit of an overlap with magic, where magicians want to keep their secrets to themselves. But I think it's completely unethical, because magicians are honest deceivers - they tell you that something is fake and fake it for entertainment - but with psychics and mediums they don't tell you that at all. It's a huge abuse of the kind of counselling contract."

"How important is it to debunk this stuff? Why not humour the people who believe in ghosts and UFOs?

Well it's up to people what they believe. My feeling is that they're bombarded with pro-paranormal information, whether it's from psychic hotlines or broadcasters putting out ghost shows, or in magazines and newspapers. The books we're talking about and my book Paranormality really just say to people, "Here's the other side of the equation - at least give it a try before you decide this stuff definitely exists." I think that's really important, because certainly when it comes to psychics and mediums people allow them to have a massive influence over their lives. They don't understand the tricks of the trade. It's very important to be an informed consumer.


Who are some of the people you've tested? [for a one-million dollar prize awarded to anyone who can scientifically prove they're psychic]

I tested a woman called Patricia Putt who was convinced she could give psychic readings for people, and that they would recognise their past and present in those readings. So we had lots of people come in, she would write down her readings, then we showed them to people and said you had to choose yours out of all of them. And suddenly they were at a loss. That's because when you go for a psychic reading you know it's meant for you. You're sitting there, there are all these ambiguous comments, you can read into them and suddenly be impressed. Once you take away that mechanism everything collapses."

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