Monday, July 23, 2007

There Is No Psychic Contact with The Dead

If the alleged psychics could make contact with disembodied souls, then we’d have a vital piece in the puzzle about the possibility of life after death, the existence of souls, and God. But without exception, they all seem to be liars, frauds, dupes, or just seriously confused.

Many people have claimed to be able to communicate with the dead. If the dead person’s body is long gone in the cemetery, yet we are able to continue to talk to them, then that might constitute evidence for the autonomy of the soul. Again, the problem is that so many of these cases have been exposed. The reasonable person is in a similar position to the one that Hume said we are concerning miracles. Evidence showing the dependence of the mind on the brain is ubiquitous. If someone makes a paranormal claim that contradicts that evidence, then we must ask ourselves: Is it more likely that the person claiming to have had an out-of-body experience or contact with a non-physical soul is lying, deceived, mistaken, or that they are correct? Those who claim to be contacting the dead through séances or psychic means are often using magicians’ cold reading techniques to draw information from living relatives who want to make contact. In many cases, the psychic has even surreptitiously researched information to give back to the bereaved. On the popular television show, Crossing Over, John Edward typically interviews audience members before the cameras go on to find out who they want to contact and what they want to know. Then hours of vague questions, shotgun predictions, and stabs in the dark are filmed and edited down to give the appearance that Edward was able to give detailed and unprompted information about the sought after dead person. The television audience does not get to see the rest of the evidence that makes it clear that Edward is little more than a carnival showman.

Fraudulent psychics will also notice subtle body language cues, clothing, facial expressions, and other details about a person for guidance in directing their allegedly psychic inquiry. Given how often they are lying, mistaken, or misguided, anyone claiming to have contacted the world of non-physical souls must meet a substantial burden of proof to show that they are not employing trickery or making a mistake. To date, that burden of proof has not been adequately met. The Internet is awash with embarrassing video footage of the popular psychic Sylvia Browne flubbing one attempt after another to psychically solve crimes and divine information from the dead. In one tragic example, she tells some devastated and mourning parents whose daughter died of a disease that had nothing to do with her heart that she was murdered with a gunshot to the chest. Notice the way that both parents and Montel Williams struggle to find some possible interpretation to make Browne’s blind, vague, groping answers fit the case:

Mother: My daughter Michelle was 17 years old. She’ll be gone 5 years the 21st. Sylvia, I don’t know how she died. Please, if you can, how did she die?

Sylvia Browne: She was shot.

(Parents looks confused and skeptical.)

Montel Williams: Circumstances around her death?

Mother: She just collapsed in her room.

Sylvia: I don’t know, but something looks like it hit the chest.

(Mother shakes head.)

Mother: They found nothing on the autopsy.

Sylvia Browne: I don’t care, but it looks like something hit her in the chest.

Father: They did an autopsy, they did whatever they do. She was a healthy child. And she just fell out in her in room. Just fell like golf clubs fall over.

Sylvia Browne: I know, just went down. I don’t know but there was something that hit her in the chest. I’m telling you.

Father: No.

Mother: Could it be her heart, Sylvia?

Sylvia Browne: I could have been her heart. But you know, something sharp.

Montel Williams: Let me ask the question—did she play sports?

Mother: Yes.

Montel Williams: Could she have been, in this last year alone, there have been two young men come home from baseball practice having been struck in the chest earlier and died, and there was no bruising.

Sylvia Browne: That’s right, yeah. Was she any place before this when she could have been hit?

Mother: (shaking head) Possibly, but I don’t think so.

Sylvia Browne: Because it seems like it was almost like a shot.

Father: Could it have been toxic shock syndrome?

Sylvia Browne: Yes, it could. She had really long lashes, you know when you look at her sideways. A very straight nose, and a full mouth. A beautiful girl.

By the time they are all done speculating about Browne’s fraudulent reading, they have 4 different hypotheses, none of which seem to fit with the facts: The daughter was shot. She was hit in the chest at sports practice. Something sharp hit her in the chest. Or she had toxic shock syndrome. Then, conveniently, Browne changes the subject to a safe discussion of how beautiful the daughter was.

Browne charges thousands of dollars for her “services.” James Randi has openly contested her as a fraud and repeatedly challenged her to take his $1,000,000 test for psychic or paranormal phenomena. She has refused.


Jon said...

A good friend of mine's mother regularly goes to a psychic about every week. The psychic charges about 50$ per visit. I typed up a paper for my friend to read - giving all of the usual arguments (Hume, Scientific, etc...) explaining why he should not take the psychic seriously. He has become a fence sitter on the subject. I even pointed out where her prophesies have been false. His argument for being a fence sitter resides in that he saw a television show on the discovery channel concerning an F.B.I. agent who apparently believed that this particular psychic helped to solve a case concerning the finding of a body. Obviously television shows maximize entertainment value at the expense of reason and scientific objectivism. Also, many C.I.A. agents and F.B.I. agents get into trouble by taking money for illegal services.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

One of my friends recently killed herself. I find myself alternating between not caring, and feeling intense grief and a loss of motivation, where I just want to sleep or stare at whatever is in front of me. When I don't care, it seems due to the fact that I have some sort of lingering spiritual belief (as I was Christian and later became Buddhist), where she can still see me from another realm, or that I can contact her simply by thinking of her. This is a complete denial of life and suffering; it cheapens the pain she must have felt, and the mourning that should follow with her passing. I think that spiritual belief is a form of hatred, a type of predation that is so well camouflaged that it masquerades itself as good will and compassion, and stems from a psychological need to deny anguish and death. Although an effective analgesic, it removes the terror and pain of life, which destroys any real compassion that would stem from a recognition of mortality and suffering. The recognition of personal extiction makes loss more real. People should (prescriptively) mourn the loss of life, not deny that the dead are gone forever. Denying that the dead are in fact dead debases what it means to recognize suffering and loss, and is a terrible, destructive product of the notion of a soul. Without understanding that when a person dies they are gone, the bereaved are robbed of the terrible beauty of life, which encompasses both loss and gain. Only through recognizing our losses and mortality can we even approach an appreciation of the people around us and the joys that they bring. The fear, pain, and grief of death provide a stark contrast for what is of worth. Psychic mediums and other spiritual-minded individuals destroy what is meaningful in life: our loss, our pain, and the beauty that stands in contast.

Josh May said...

Hey, MM. Thanks for this post. I didn't know there was so much on YouTube about this.

By the way, I've been reading the blog lately. It's really good! I'm glad you started this thing.

Hope all is well,


Anonymous said...

Matt, you big meanie, tossing around cruel belief-breaking facts again.


You are infringing, as always, on our "right to believe."

Don't you realize god just doesn't want us to find ANY information about his existence out at all?

That would ruin "the plan."

Well...what about the bible?

Doesn't the bible provide the living testament of those morons that lived thousands of years ago and were afraid to eat swine?

Someone named Pyne told me that the opinions of those "documented" in the bible are just as valid as the scientists of today.

So what if those old wise people also thought that women had no rights and that god killing Eygyption 2st borns was moral?--These are respectable thinkers we should take seriously!

In fact, we could even put them in charge of things like countries and philosophy departments -- what ill could possibly come from such faithful people?

Remember Matt, faith is something intrinsically good, just like a bowel movement.


Anonymous said...

If a psychic is willing to take the following challenge, I will plunk down $50.00 for a reading.

I would like a psychic who is not at all familiar with a particular period in history, say, the Elizabethan Period, to talk with Marlowe to find out how he died. If the psychic tells us what is asserted by expert historians, that psychic can take $50.00 from me so that I can find out from Marlowe if he knows if Shakespeare really wrote the plays attributed to the Bard.

F. Fletcher

Anonymous said...

Reading this entry reminded me about this web page dealing with Sylvia Brown and this interview with it's creator, just thought I'd share.

Anonymous said...

God strictly told us not to communicate with the dead, perform magic, or get involved with divination. These are from the devil.

If you want to contact the dead, simply do it before they die. Your argument is weak because you are saying what God is like even though he is to complicated for all brains on earth to comprehend.

Anonymous said...

You're an idiot! You're all idiots!!

Crystal_Spark said...

Hi :)

I would just like to let you all know that i believe that 'some genuinly see passed over loved ones'

I have personally seen on many occasions my Grandfather(Fathers side) he has also seen him.

I also have seen my Nanna (Fathers side)

I also saw angel visions when my Mother passed away at the exact time she passed.

I have had other experiences also with some one whom commited suicide and made contact.

Many occasions which i wont list them all.

When one believes anything is possible ,when one sees, one knows , when one is awakened, one will open doors to many non physical realities.

Have a great day all ~

In love and light

Accurate Psychic said...

Thanks for this post.Actually while reading this I'm just thinking maybe there are those spiritual psychics that's credible and genuine.

Yuri Romanov said...

Yes, one can still find real, honest psychics available online. You just have to know where to find them. Research..research...

Anonymous said...

This is a great article. I feel a talented psychic medium can contact the dead. What do you think?

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Anonymous said...

I found this blog informative and there are many cases available in which the psychic’s frauds are apparent, I think having contact with dead body is illusion.
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