News Flash: Psychics Still Useless

You may have heard about this bizarre story out of Texas this week, where a self-proclaimed psychic called police with a tip that a certain home was the site of a mass grave containing dozens of dismembered bodies, including the bodies of children. A swarm of reporters, FBI agents and Texas Rangers promptly converged on the address, bringing cameras, news helicopters and cadaver-sniffing dogs.

At first they found spots of blood on the porch, seemingly proving that the psychic tip-off was good as gold. But after obtaining a search warrant and examining the property in more detail, they found that the blood had a mundane explanation, and there were no bodies, no mass grave, and indeed no indication of any crime at all.

“With the assistance of various agencies out here at the scene,” Captain Evans said, “we were able to search the premises after the arrival of a search warrant, and we have no indication that there are in fact any bodies located in the residence, the shed, or any property here at the scene.”

(Some news agencies excitedly and mistakenly reported at first that bodies had been found, only to be forced to retract that claim subsequently.)

Are any of us surprised? Of course not, because as this story demonstrates further, all psychics are worthless frauds and con artists. Shame on the Texas police for not knowing that from the beginning and treating her “tip” as the useless hoax it was. How do they justify this colossal waste of time and resources chasing a wild claim from a posturing charlatan?

“Some of the information that was provided to us did specifically match information we found at the scene,” Mr. Evans said.

Ah yes, of course. Because there was in fact a house at the location described by the tipster, that means that the wild claim of a mass grave was plausible? This reminds me of the Christian apologists who say that if the places described in the New Testament were real, that proves that Jesus really did walk on water and come back from the dead. You can’t justify an extraordinary claim with merely ordinary evidence.

The obvious explanation for how the tipster was able to describe the house is that it’s someone who knows the people who live there. That was in fact suggested by one of the homeowners, who believes the source was a mentally unstable neighbor with a vendetta against them. The Texas police say they plan to track down the tipster and charge her with filing a false police report, as they should, and I hope this embarrassment is an object lesson to them the next time some deluded person calls in with another wild story.

But the most comical part of it all is the “real” psychics claiming – wait for it – that this sort of thing makes them look bad!

“Oh my God, now we’re all going to get a black eye,” was Jacki Mari’s first thought when she heard that a false tip from a psychic had led law enforcement officers on a fruitless search for a mass grave in East Texas on Tuesday night.

Ms. Mari, also known as Sherlockjackie, has, by her own reckoning, helped solve more than 400 murders and missing persons cases around the world — all without leaving her office outside Chicago. Her own psychic powers — she calls it “extrasensory intelligence” — told her that the informant’s tip was spurious, Ms. Mari said…

You’ll also note that, once again, a credulous media has given a pretender unrebutted column space to claim they’ve “helped” in dozens of cases, without debunking this claim or even asking for follow-up details about which cases these were. The standard M.O. for psychics in a real police investigation is to provide dozens of tips, ranging from the absurdly specific but unverifiable to the uselessly vague (“The body will be found near water,” “The body will be found near a church”), and then claiming that they “helped” if any of those statements turn out in retrospect to be true – even if many more of them are wrong, and even if the “psychic”‘s advice played no role in actually helping the police find the body or catch the criminal. (Another classic example was the “remote viewing” company which wrongly claimed kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart was dead.)

When a psychic can provide a convincing demonstration of their powers in a controlled test, I’ll believe there may be something to their claims. Until and unless that ever happens, the only reasonable conclusion is that psychics are all either self-deluded or deliberate fraudsters, and don’t deserve to be taken seriously by the police or anyone else.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Miles McCullough

    Aren’t police required to chase down all tips and allegations, regardless of source? At least that’s what I heard on Psych and the Mentalist…

  • AnonaMiss

    I don’t know – while obviously I agree that psychic claims are bullshit, I do think it was the right thing to do for the police to check it out. I can imagine that someone connected with, but not primarily responsible for, such a crime scene would call with a tip and claim to be psychic to avoid having to provide incriminating details (e.g. how he knew about the gravesite), or to deflect suspicion from themselves if the murderer was superstitious (“Did you rat me out?!” “No, it couldn’t be, the police report said it came from a psychic!”)

    Maybe I’m letting my imagination run away with me on the hypothetical examples, but the point stands that just because someone says their claims are based on psychic visions doesn’t mean they don’t have real evidence to support the claims – just that they choose not to share it. And if someone had made an anonymous tip about a mass grave, even without giving any justification for their claim at all, I would hope that the police would check it out.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch

    I concur with this entire post, except for the very last sentence.

    I am going to side with Sam Harris on this one.

    I don’t think it prudent to denounce all persons who have mysterious experiences as deluded or crooks.

    Just because we can’t yet explain a mysterious experience with science, doesn’t mean that we won’t be able to in the future.

    Sane, rational people have mysterious experiences.

    I think when we denounce them as crazy or drug addicted or attention hogging liars or charlatans looking to make a quick buck, we probably send some people, who would have been on our side, into the arms of the religious nuts, who don’t dismiss them as loons.

    I’m not saying that means that we shouldn’t be skeptical of their claims. I’m not saying that we should mount crime investigations based upon their claims.

    But, the sweeping dismissals, which are so common in the atheist community, disturb me.

    I will admit that I have had mysterious experiences.

    I am not crazy. I was not crazy at the time. I am not on drugs. I was not on drugs at the time. I was not and am not looking to make money off of my experiences or gain media attention.

    I just had some unexplained experiences.

    I hope to be able to explain them some day.

    I feel confident that I will be able to do so, with science, as we continue to learn more and more about our amazing universe.

  • Erik

    @Sarah – I think he was referring to the ones who insist they are psychic. Everyone’s had unexplainable experiences, I’m sure, but it’s the ones who make the leap to ‘I must be psychic!’ who are deluding themselves. It’s the same as religion – if Science can’t explain it, it must be [insert superstition]. Even worse are the ones who profit from their ‘abilities’ (money, attention, etc.) – those are the frauds.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch

    Erik,

    I hear you, but I’ve encountered so many persons in the atheist community who, immediately upon hearing someone, even someone, like myself, who is a self-defined new atheist and despiser of religion and materialist, start to speak about some mysterious experience he or she has had, roll their eyes and dismiss this person as a nutcase or a liar or a drug addict, and, as Ebon puts it, not worth taking seriously.

  • JM

    I recently saw a mentalism show in which the performer claimed psychic powers throughout the act – clairvoyance, ESP, telekinesis, etc. – until he was finished, then confessed that it was all done using psychology and and playing off the audience’s expectations. After he left the stage I overheard several people talking about how disappointing it was that he wasn’t a ‘real’ psychic like they had believed, and then shared experiences of palm readings, tarot cards, and other effects that the mentalist had performed much better than ‘psychics’ usually can.

    As with religion, as long as they want to believe, they will.

  • http://darkenedstumbling.blogspot.com/ Leum

    Well obviously they didn’t find the mass graves. You need a divining rod to find corpses, duh!

    I laughed at this:

    “My first feeling was that something did happen,” Ms. Mari said, “but I didn’t see a bunch of bodies laying around or dismembered.” Besides, she added, “I would never call the police department and say, ‘Hey, I’m a psychic and I know what’s what.’ ”

    No, of course, because you’d lose an opportunity to charge them.

  • Lee Eddy

    I’m okay with the police running down the tip (especially if it’s a slow day down at the station) but calling in the dogs and the helicopters and such? That stuff costs money; I just don’t see how it can be justified! Send the two cops who don’t have much to do and let them check it out. Why doesn’t that make more sense than bringing out all the choppers and dogs and Rangers and all? And the media? Are you kidding me? I hope they find the ‘psychic’ and charge her for all that expense.

    Or, alternatively, whatever police lieutenant or Ranger captain or such signed off on this should answer publicly for this egregious waste.

  • ArtyB

    Ebon, don’t make me predict, don’t make me! You will be posting stuff here in the next few days, huh, take that.
    That is my psychic prediction and I will be proven true in the next day or two.

  • arensb

    all psychics are worthless frauds and con artists.

    Oh, I think you’re being too harsh. Some of them are merely deluded.

  • http://www.noforbiddenquestions.com NFQ

    If I were a police officer and a self-proclaimed psychic called me and told me where a bunch of dismembered bodies were buried, I would write down their name, address, and number, and I would go search the site immediately. If any bodies were there, I would go arrest the “psychic.” How else would they have known?

  • Dark Jaguar

    At first I thought the police wasted their time, however on further thought I realized that investigating this was actually something they should have done. If the psychic claimed ghosts or bigfoot was about, dismiss that. If the psychic claims that some people have been killed, while being psychic is nonsense, being murdered and stuck in a shallow grave is, while rare, still a part of reality, still something that happens. The officer can dismiss the claim that they learned it via psychic means while still investigating the claim of buried bodies. The extent of the investigation was too much though.

    What gets me is how the media reacts when they find out they’ve been made fools of. They always try to villify whoever they found out was innocent. Basically, they come off as mad that they DIDN’T kill dozens of people, and then they start getting worked up and saying that while nothing was found THIS time, that person is “obviously suspicious” (as though being “suspicious” is now a crime). They spent half an hour on CNN yesterday talking about sniffing dogs and how, without actually accusing them, the reason no bodies were found MIGHT be because they didn’t “use” the corpse sniffing dogs correctly. It all comes off like a sad attempt to keep the story going when it turns out there was no story.

  • Niklaus Pfirsig

    I think the police would have to check it out. What if the self -proclaimed psychic tipster was, in fact, a mass murderer who had committed a bunch of murders and buried the bodies on the location?

    Suppose, the police dispatched a patrol car (e.g, car 1A12) to check out the allegation. Officers Reed and Malloy approach the house and see the blood stains on the porch. They report it to homocide, and detectives Starsky and Hutchison respond. They see the blood and call in a Crime scene unit. The CSU analyses the blood and Gil Grissom finds it to be human blood, so they call in the cadaver dogs and the works.

    Does any here think I watch too much TV?

    But seriously, certain allegations require investigation, even if the source of the allegation is considered questionable. Usually a preliminary investigation will absolve the accused. The question here is: Did they investigate because the tip came from a “psychic”, or because it is standard operating proceduer.

  • Paul

    To Sarah and Eric:

    We need to distinguish between a mere description of a mysterious experience with some conclusion about that experience beyond a bare description. It’s one thing to say “I had a dream about where the body is,” and it’s another to say “I know where the body is because I dreamt it and I’m psychic.” No skeptic should doubt the former (dreams are commonplace), but all should ridicule the latter (absent hard evidence).

  • http://www.WorldOfPrime.com Yahzi

    Psychic believers are no more deluded than Catholics. And no less harmful. To the same extent you blame Catholics for supporting the priesthood, you should blame people who read astrology columns.

    Also, we can already scientifically explain every single mystical experience you or anyone else has ever had. It’s not even hard: look up Elizabeth Loftus.

  • L.Long

    Sorry but ALL psychics are frauds. There may be some deluded fools you want to believe it is real, which is sad but a psychic is doing an active fraud on others.
    Until one of them can do a real stunt such as name, place, description, time, etc and is then positively verified then they will remain frauds. The fact is for them to prove otherwise.
    But I will make a non-psychic prediction….They will never prove it.

  • Robster

    We got the news here in Australa on breakfast TV. It was reported as a mass grave containg 20 bodies identified to police by a psychic in Texas. A wee bit later, on the radio the report came through that it was a nonsense. Surely the cops could have had a couple of officers check it out before sending in the cavalry.

  • Demonhype

    @arensb:

    Oh, I think you’re being too harsh. Some of them are merely deluded.

    This is true. When I said that Sylvia Browne is a charlatan, my mom threw a fit and said that I was accusing Edgar Cayce of being a charlatan. Which is like saying if I call Bill Clinton a womanizer, I must by necessity be calling, say, Jimmy Carter a womanizer (because they’re both Democrats). I told her that, while I don’t believe he had any magic powers, I think that he likely believed he had magic powers and was not just cynically manipulating gullible and/or bereaved people for profit.

    Didn’t make much difference to her though. She still whips out the psychic version of “Lord, Liar, Lunatic” from time to time.

    @DarkJaguar:

    What gets me is how the media reacts when they find out they’ve been made fools of. They always try to villify whoever they found out was innocent. Basically, they come off as mad that they DIDN’T kill dozens of people, and then they start getting worked up and saying that while nothing was found THIS time, that person is “obviously suspicious” (as though being “suspicious” is now a crime). They spent half an hour on CNN yesterday talking about sniffing dogs and how, without actually accusing them, the reason no bodies were found MIGHT be because they didn’t “use” the corpse sniffing dogs correctly. It all comes off like a sad attempt to keep the story going when it turns out there was no story.

    Hell, my MOM will do this! If I told her this story, she would claim that obviously this man is still a suspect for being a serial killer, and how else do you explain that a psychic phoned in a tip and they just so happened to find some traces of blood on the porch at that particular house, it just couldn’t be coincidence, and obviously he’s just so brilliant an evil mastermind that he got rid of all the evidence brilliantly before the cops could get to him, but someday he’ll be caught in the act and WON’T ALL YOU UNBELIEVERS FEEL STUPID THEN????!!!!!111!!!!!!1! It’s what she does every time. It’s more attractive to her than the idea that maybe it was all bullshit, plus to doubt one psychic is to doubt them all!

    She’s been sending magic psychic vibes for me to get some fabulous new job I’m on the call list for right now. And she says I’m not getting called because my negativity (read: unbelief, skepticism) is canceling out her feel-good vibes. I’m a pretty high-strung nervous type, so I can understand someone trying to help me stay in a positive frame of mind for my own health and well-being, both physically and mentally, but she’s not talking about that. She really believes that thoughts have actual physical manifestations that can change the nature of reality, and if there is a single person who doesn’t believe in fairies and doesn’t clap her hands, then poor little Tinkerbell will surely die!

    I love her and I know she wants the best for me, but this gets overwhelming. All the woo and all the claims when it doesn’t work that it was my lack of faith that ruined it all–because her juju is so powerful that a single unbeliever can disable it.

    Also, she thinks that even Richard Dawkins believes this “thoughts have power over physical reality” thing. No, really! One of her woo books quote-mined something he said about memetics as being in support of this psychic idea. And if Richard Dawkins believes it, I should to–plus, his belief in this just proves that it is totally a scientifically valid claim that’s obviously true that I’m just being closed-minded against. Because we all know Richard Dawkins is the Pope of Atheism, and what atheists believe or disbelieve is contingent on what the Highest Ranking Atheist believes or disbelieves.

    Ugh.

    But, yeah. People will try to avoid being wrong, no matter what.

  • Polly

    When a psychic can provide a convincing demonstration of their powers in a controlled test, I’ll believe there may be something to their claims.

    Preferrably, using the method employed here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aB_lljnqkDw&feature=related

  • Tom

    “Sherlock jacki?” Really? I can’t help but feel that a real psychic detective, were it possible for them to exist, would have no need to go by any other than their real name – it’d become famous soon enough. “Sherlock jacki” is only one step away from “The Amazing Jacki” – these are the names of stage performers, not people who do real things. Besides, Holmes wasn’t even a psychic.

  • TEP

    I guess next time someone wants to commit a really big crime, all they’ve got to do is call the police a few times pretending to be ‘psychics’, and the police will be too busy spending most of their resources chasing after fake mass graves to have much to spare to deal with a massive heist or the like.

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    We really ought to teach proper statistics and psychology to everyone starting with high school. Or at the very least, can we require courses in these subjects at police academy?

  • Alex Weaver

    I think “useless” is pretty harsh.

    Surely any of these psychics would be a perfectly competent emergency food supply.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch

    I know everyone is having a great time mocking psychics and suggesting that we eat them, but I just want to add:

    Dismissing all unexplained events/experiences as delusions is just as unscientific as attributing them to the supernatural or the divine.

    They are simply unexplained events/experiences.

    Unless someone on this thread is claiming omniscience. I most certainly am not.

    That is what is supposed to be so great about the scientific endeavor — the willingness to admit that we do not yet know or understand phenomena, and the willingness to be proven incorrect. Just imagine what we will know and understand about our universe in 100 years from now, if we last so long. Maybe we’ll discover that “ghosts” are actually a quantum mechanical subatomic particle echo of sorts or a way to access one of the infinite number of versions of a dead loved one in one of an infinite number of parallel universes.

    Maybe we’ll discover that prescience is actually a way to access information from other parallel universes. We’ve already begun building quantum computer networks. Maybe we’ll solve our energy problems by accessing other universes. Maybe we’ll figure out a way to harness quantum immortality.

    Who knows?

    I don’t know.

    But, I sure hope we don’t destroy ourselves, so that we get to find out.

    I don’t think there is any such thing as the supernatural. I reject the concept. I am a materialist. Or, I guess I should say a scientific naturalist. Whatever the nom de jour is. But, I don’t reject all unexplained events/experiences. Are there frauds? Sure. Are there deluded people? Sure. Are some people crazy? Sure. Are some people on drugs? Sure. Are some people brain damaged? Sure.

    Are some people suffering from mass psychosis? Sure.

    Are there some people who simply experience as yet unexplained events/experiences?

    Yep.

    That’s why we created the scientific endeavor in the first place.

    Refusing to engage in the scientific endeavor is hardly scientific.

  • http://www.WorldOfPrime.com Yahzi

    “Dismissing all unexplained events/experiences as delusions is just as unscientific as attributing them to the supernatural or the divine.”

    This is a false equivalency, driven by a failure to understand what science is and how it is applied.

    We know that human minds mispercieve, misremember, and misconclude. We know that large flaws are built into our perceptual system as a matter of biological construction. We know that our minds reorder, delete, and create events in our memory. We know that our brains are wired to leap to certain kinds of conclusions, and find it difficult to reach other kinds of conclusions regardless of the actual facts, such as our well-known in ability to reason about probabilities smaller than 1%. Any of these known flaws can account for all reported supernatural events.

    Does this logically mean there are no supernatural events? In the sense of formal proof, no.

    Does this scientifically mean there are no supernatural events? The answer is an unqualified yes.

    Given everything we know, it is perfectly scientific to dismiss supernatural events out of hand until evidence is presented that makes the well-known flaws of the human mind a less likely explanation. This is the proper and appropriate application of the scientific process. To do otherwise would be to misapply the scientific process.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch

    Yahzi,

    When you say that there are no supernatural events, I agree with you.

    But, if you try to tell me that there are no unexplained events, then I don’t.

    And, what you are saying is that there are no unexplained events.

    Not that there are no supernatural events.

    Saying that there are no unexplained events is what is unscientific.

  • Heidi

    Another classic example was the “remote viewing” company which wrongly claimed kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart was dead.

    Or when Sylvia Browne said Shawn Hornbeck was dead. Oops.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Aren’t police required to chase down all tips and allegations, regardless of source?

    I would be very surprised if that were the case, Miles. I’m sure the police routinely get calls from cranks and lunatics of all kinds, and if they’re stretched thin for time and resources, as most real police departments probably are, then they should concentrate on the plausible tips and ignore the ones that obviously come from crackpots. I very much doubt that most police departments have policies requiring them to investigate every tip, no matter how absurd.

    I don’t think it prudent to denounce all persons who have mysterious experiences as deluded or crooks.

    Don’t misunderstand me, Sarah, I don’t mean to denigrate anyone who’s ever had an experience they can’t explain. As I said in my post, on the day that someone claiming to be psychic can pass a well-controlled double-blind test, I’ll be the first to get on their bandwagon, even if it means rewriting all our physics textbooks.

    But so far, we don’t have any solid, reproducible proof for such a phenomenon. And without such evidence, I feel nothing but contempt for the “professional” psychics who claim to know beyond all possible doubt that their powers are real and genuine and who are seeking to charge others for the use of them. Those people, whether they’re intentional fraudsters or merely self-deluded, are unjustly enriching themselves by feeding off human gullibility and desperation.

  • Alex Weaver

    I must confess I am utterly at a loss to form even a tentative conjecture as the to train of thought that could possibly attach the assertion “no unexplained experiences exist” to the claimed conclusion that “all professional psychics are frauds, whether they’re in on the con or not.”

  • Charles Black

    I suspect that the basis of “psychics” is simply a case of confirmation bias & observational selection at work.
    When combined together, they can give a person a false impression of their “psychic” abilities.
    It’s entirely possible that they really believe what they say, they are merely mistaken though of course it’s possible they deliberately defraud people of their money.

  • http://www.WorldOfPrime.com Yahzi

    “Saying that there are no unexplained events is what is unscientific.”

    What do you mean by “unexplained?”

    If you mean “there are events which we don’t the cause of right now”, you are of course correct. The source of the error could any one of the many ways in which the human mind fails. The event is unexplained in that we don’t know which particular brain flaw caused it. This is true, but it is also tautological. There are an infinite series of events that this is true of, and absolutely no one cares.

    If you mean “unexplainable by the laws of physics even after a through investigation,” then no, you’re just wrong. To assert this is to invert the scientific process on its head. We have great confidence that any given event has a perfectly natural explanation, even if we don’t know it.

    It is perfectly reasonable and accurate to describe all psychics as deluded. In sheer point of fact, it is reasonable to describe all human beings as deluded, at least with respect to something or another. Given how our minds work, delusion is not a special, degenerate case, but merely a normal by-product. The difference is that some of us know we are easily deluded, and some of us don’t.

    As Feynman said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.” The scientific principle lies in accepting the ease with which humans delude themselves. Your defense of the infallibility of human experience is not scientific.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch

    Something can be unexplainable by the laws of physics, as we currently understand them, and still have a perfectly natural explanation.

    Unless you want to alter your stance on the current state of the fallibility of human experience.

    And, call me crazy if you wish, but I care.

    I have an insatiable curiosity about the universe within which we live.

    And, maybe, even those we don’t.

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    Our understanding of physics isn’t complete, Yahzi, and it most certainly can’t explain everything. Perhaps you mean to say the laws of physics include entities and processes we haven’t even discovered yet; that is a convenient definition but provides no practical use.

    For the curious, just a few of the questions we’re still trying to figure out include (a) why particles have mass, (b) why there is far more matter than anti-matter in the universe, (c) what dark matter and dark energy actually are, since these are just names we’ve assigned to the causes of an observed phenomena, and (d) whether the universe actually has such a thing as a global beginning/end, or rather if events like the Big Bang only appear to be that from a narrow, local perspective.

    The reason we reject psychic claims is not that our understanding of physics is so great as to utterly eliminate any possibility of such powers. It’s that they have no evidence that they have any such capability to begin with.

  • Niklaus Pfirsig

    Most believers of the supernatural seem to remember the coincidences that support their beliefs, while ignoring events to the contrary. Some of this happens at a sub cognitive level, mainly because memory works by matching subtle (and not so subtle) clues in the environment to memories of similar past events. It’s kind of like catching a ball.
    At first, it takes a bit of effort to intercept the ball in its trajectory, and it requires your full attention. After practice, the learned response moves from the congnitive functioning, to a programmed response. You can catch the ball without really thinking about it.
    Many people who believe they are psychic, experience trivial events where a learned memory of a sequence of events is triggered by a very similar series, with a very similar outcome, giving the impression that they had a brief flash of precognition, where in fact, they are adapting a past memory to current events. Basically, psychic phenomena consists of very simplistic explanations for a somewhat transient but complex event.
    When I was a small child, one summer, I noticed that every day there would be a rain shower in the afternoon. I developed this belief that an evil cloud was continually circling the earth and it was the same cloud causing the rain every afternoon. After I got a little older and learned how the weather worked, I could look back and see how wrong and silly my monster cloud idea had been. Many psychics, however, prefer the simple monster cloud hypothesis over learning how the weather patterns caused afternoon pop up showers.

    Science doesn’t claim to how all the answers, it provides a a methodology to gain an understanding of reality. Science builds on what we know, to create better tools with which to observe, measure, study and analyze. Some may claim that science doesn’t explain everything. Some even claim that everything science can’t explain is proof of an invisible supernatural world. Such claims are baseless and the reality is that many explanations are ignored in favor of some mystical explanation.

  • Patrik Beno

    Sarah, I hear you. I don’t think anybody disagrees with you, actually.
    We are just struggling with words and failing attempts to convert our thoughts undistorted to the blog comments.

    Few important notes, though, and yet another failing attempt :-)

    Mysterious experiences occur *mostly * in our heads. They are illusions. There are usually only weak and misunderstood links to the objective reality. That’s what is mysterious about them: interpretations, not the facts.

    If there is mystic experience that is supposed to have stronger correlation with objective reality (and to be less of a product of mind), we have to prove this correlation. Until proved, it is reasonable to assume the experience is subjective (internal), not objective (external).

    To prove objectivity, the event needs to be reproducible, or there have to be some hard measurable facts still available after the event. Experience itself does not classify. Even if the experience can be reproducible, it still is only an experience (state of mind).

    Every intelligence needs sensory input to provide data it can work with. We only have 5 sensory organs. Popular 6th sense is just our intelligence working hard upon the data from those 5 sensors plus memory.
    There is no evidence for existence of other data input organs, and until provided, we are entitled and obliged to believe there are none.

    No input, no data, no facts, no sound interpretations, no valid conclusions.
    Psychics are mistaken or fraud. Their experience is psychologically interesting but irrelevant to the objective reality.

    There are only facts and what we do is interpret the facts. Mysterious interpretations of the facts never explain things, they don’t even attempt to explain.
    Scientific interpretations do explain, and most such explanations render the facts not so mysterious after all.
    In fact, explaining means “taking the mystery out of it”, to great discomfort of mystics who need the facts to be clouded by the fog of mystery.

    Keaton accused Newton that by explaining the rainbow he took all the beauty from it. Mystics need awe, not knowledge.
    Mysterious interpretations a emotionally appealing but factually vacuous. They provide awe, not knowledge.

    Never confuse awe and curiosity with the search for knowledge.

  • RipleyP

    Until psychic powers and the ability of psychics to provide a prediction is proven then I would have to question the police undertaking an investigation without further evidence or reason.

    It is important to investigate crimes and follow up tips. There is also a balance.

    I feel for the home owners who have had their lives invaded by all the attention and media. What was their crime to have this happen to them?

    Well no crime just suspicion based on what I assume was a person claiming to have powers that have not been proven to work or exist to a confident standard of proof.

    Maybe police should explain if they acted on only one tip from a confessed psychic or if other corroborating information was received. If it was only a self proclaimed psychic claim they saw with powers, well they need to have a look at their actions

  • Eurekus

    I had a psychic tell me there is going to be a marriage sometime in my family. She looked at me strange when I laughed at her.