How can you verify a psychic? James Randi has offered a million dollars to anyone who could prove paranormal or supernatural powers under his specified conditions. The offer has been up for about a decade now and he’s not the only one. Skeptics in India, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom have offered similar rewards to those who can prove their paranormal abilities. For over one hundred years, no one who has offered a reward to psychics has had to pay one red cent. I have a friend who often points out that John Edwards went missing from the mainstream after an episode of “South Park” showed how he is able to get the dead to talk to him. I would like to add that I had heard he has members of his staff mingle with waiting audience members to hear who they would like to hear from and then report back to him. In either event, he’s no longer in popular media. Apparently on YouTube there are hundreds of videos showing various psychics failing at… well, being psychic.
But are they all frauds? Simply because you won’t take a test with more rigid testing conditions than the State Bar Exam doesn’t mean you’re afraid of being found a fraud, does it? The Randi Foundation (a.k.a. JREF) specifically called out Sylvia Browne, Uri Geller, and John Edwards. None responded. As far as I know, they did not try to contact Chip Coffey. Penn & Teller devoted a number of their “Bullshit” episodes to paranormal phenomenon. The lack of response sounds more to me like high school; do you rise above the petty gossip or address it? If I remember correctly, Oprah fought the tabloids at first and then decided to ignore them and ignoring them seemed to work better. So perhaps the lack of response on behalf of psychics is more akin to rising above, being confident in your abilities and not needing to prove them to a random person. Of course, it could also be that they make more money being psychic (real or fake) than a petty one million dollar reward would bring.
The co-founder of my group really wants a psychic medium to be added to our team. I am highly reluctant for all the reasons I’ve outlined above. I did agree to meet with some, and if I was impressed, maybe have a guest spot or repeat cameos in investigations. I can keep an open mind and remain skeptical (which is the whole point of being a paranormal investigator, n’est-ce pas?). We met one with one before going to a potential client’s house. She claimed that she could see spirits, they would just come to her and she would pass along a message. So she couldn’t see my dead relatives or do a cold reading, we just had to sit and wait for them to come to her. She also didn’t provide any new information; anything she was “right” about was what I had mentioned earlier in conversations. I let her come with us to the potential client’s house.
At the house she was wrong. A lot. She claimed that a ghost in the house was mad at the person living there now. Interesting, since the person living there now is the son of the original owners. She said she saw slaves. We live in the South, that’s like saying you see water when you live on the coast. Yeah, it’s highly likely that’s true. She also mentioned lost kids, but that was it.
But in the sake of open-mindedness, it is possible the father is mad at the son for living the house. We have no real way of knowing. There could have been slaves there, we don’t know. We didn’t find a record of any lost children but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any in the area. So I ask again, how do you verify? Do you go with the concrete evidence you have in front of you that doesn’t match the psychic? Or do you take it with a grain of salt and say, yes, that’s possible. I have no way to know if you’re telling me the truth or are accurate.